Saturday, September 13, 2008

Grouse Mountain Flowers

Above: Prunella vulgaris - Self Heal

We went up to Grouse quite late - taking a bus, a sea bus (a ferry for non Vancouverians), another bus, and a gondola/cable car...Public transport, for a Capetonian, even a New Yorker, is creepily efficient. Things arrive on time, to the minute. Swiss* undertones, minus the cheese.

The last time we were on Grouse Mountain together Vincent asked me if I would consider spending the rest of my life with him. I said, Yes, I would. Wouldn't I like to think about it first, he asked. No, I said, I had already thought about it. That evening, in late October last year, our breath hung in clouds in the dark blue air and early snow was on the ground. It was freezing. Now, in mid September, the outlook is summery and Alpine with tall grasses, thickets of late salmon berries (like raspberries but bigger and shinier, and arguably better-tasting), blueberries, wildflowers and unfearful deer cropping the heads off flowers.

Below: these were so beautiful in the late sunlight. Like dandelions but a burned orange. Much Googling today revealed that they are considered a "noxious weed"! And there I was stalking them with my camera. It shows how an unprejudiced (or uninformed?) eye can see things...

So I like weeds!

They are Hieracium aurentiacum - Orange Hawkweed, introduced from Europe, happy at altitude and loved by gardeners. So that makes me a gardener, rather than a botanist. An article in the NY Times is challenging the notion of the Exotic Invader, by the way...

I thought it looked familiar...Hypericum - St John's Wort, with smaller flowers than the shrub we know, about the size of a quarter.

I still don't know what this is. I posted a thread on the UBC's Plant Forum but I think they think it's funny, or just sad and pathetic, that I like weeds. These were like everlastings with grey, furry stems and grew en masse on the slopes.


No-name grass, thick with seeds and very tall, about five feet.

A mother and child pair of bokkies.

Baby bokkie.

These beers were growing on our table overlooking greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Surrounding tables were filled by a mixture of dressed- up diners straight from work and sweaty runners and hikers who had just done the Grouse Grind, an almost vertical hike from the bottom of the mountain to the top. Rewarding themselves with beer and burgers before catching the gondola back down again...

A remarkably fine fig and wild leaf salad. Cape Town's restaurant on Table Mountain could learn a thing or two from this one.

* On Switzerland: Orson Welles says this [and wrote it] going round on the Ferris wheel in The Third Man:

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.

In Switzerland, they had
brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce?

The cuckoo clock.


  1. Those white ones look like what we here in Kansas call 'Strawflower.' Mostly we see them here in the nursery in yellow and maroon. I just this year saw white ones.

  2. I'm so glad Vancouver's iffy weather is treating you right while you're here. Septemener is actually usually a brilliant time to visit. I can't do much about the prices here, though! :(

    I used to try picking the St John's Wort or whatever the yellow one is called when I was a kid. Never wanted to come, though! :)

  3. Septemener -- that's good. Try SEPTEMBER.

  4. Thanks Amanda...will do more research. I have a book now, yippee!

  5. Andrea - yes, stunning weather. Stunning part of the world.

  6. Bokkies.. did you ever go to Rhodes Memorial (wild arum lilies) and feed the bokkies lekker broodjies?

  7. Beer that grows on your table. I like that.

    I must remind Orson Welles, post-mortem-ly, that he forgot a very essential item born from the Swiss creative (and very clean) genius: the Swiss Army knife (good for opening wine bottles, poking wholes into bones for sucking the marrow, etc...)

  8. Oumie? - no, but we did look at the bokkies on Naval Hill on Sundays in Bloemfontein. And the dassies.

    Vincent - yes! So sorry. Jolly useful thing, the SAK...:-). Also they invented good mountains.


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