Thursday, December 12, 2013

Orchids on Leisure Island

An afternoon walk around Leisure Island, not through the small streets now crowded with too-large houses and considerable lack of taste, but paddling on the real edges, on the hard sand under the retreating tide, and the soft white sand of the remaining, low dunes, yielded unexpected treasure.

Orchids. I had seen just one growing in the grass when I drove around the island with my mother, looking at old haunts, mourning the disappearance of loved houses, and looking for her parents' house. I had never seen orchids here before.

The walk with Vince, and my eyes now scanning for yellow, yielded over a dozen specimens on the sandy edges between land and water.

They are Eulophia speciosa. The first result after googling 'orchids leisure island' landed me on a local gardening blog, which identified them for me.


One was already making seeds, but otherwise they are in peak bloom.

Much has been lost to development in Knysna. I hope they survive.

On the salt flats we tramped through edible glasswort (Salicornia sp) and a low heather-like plant* in pink bloom which I have yet to identify.

* Limonium scabrum.

And today it is back to Cape Town.

There are always regrets when leaving Knysna. For the massive change and unfettered, aesthetically insensitive construction, for habitat destruction and a population boom, but also for the quiet lagoon, the clear sands, the coucals calling like falling water from the milkwood trees and the children paddling far out at low tide, as they have for as long as anyone can remember.


  1. Thank you! NYC today "feels like 11F" BRRRRR! GH

  2. Orchids are so remarkable! Mother loved them -as much for their hardiness as their beauty. Her great joy was a green house full of them. To see them just growing wild in a field by the water is heart-stoppingly wonderful. So glad you shared.


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