Daisies for days! – An explosion of colour on the West Coast

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A carpet of wildflowers in and around Darling

Spring brings with it the greatest flower show imaginable in the areas of the Cape West Coast, with more than 1200 species of flora showing off around the gorgeous little town of Darling, between the West Coast National Park and the rolling plains of the Swartland platteland. It’s just endless views of colours … and now’s the time to visit.

The Darling Wildflower Society is the place to start your planning … they’ve been going since 1915, have an exceptionally useful website, offer guided walks, and if you plan well, you could be there for the weekend of September 16 to 18, in time for their 2022 Darling Wildflower Show and Plant Fair – a celebration of the wildflowers of the area, where you can explore, taste local produce and experience true platteland hospitality.

But a visit any time between now and mid to end October will allow you to oohh, aahh, marvel, and visit some of the local farms and reserves.

There are farms like The Waylands wild flower reserve, started by Frederick Duckitt in the early 1900’s and where visitors have been allowed access to the spectacular spring display of wild flowers every season since then. There’s Contreberg Farm, one of only three places where you’ll find one of the last populations of a critically endangered orchid species called Pterygodium Cruciform, known as the Darling Ivory, which secretes oil instead of nectar. The Darling Renosterveld Reserve is one of the few remaining remnants of critically endangered Swartland Granite Renosterveld and is renowned for its rich botanical diversity and number of endemic bulbs. The Groenkloof Reserve is home to the critically endangered Swartland Granite Renosterveld, and when you walk around here you’ll not only see Chincherinchee, Arum lilies and a host of brightly coloured daisies but the angulate tortoises that are a common sight in the reserve.

The Tienie Versveld Reserve is part of a farm that was donated to the National Botanical Society of South Africa by none other than a Marthinus (Tienie) Versfeld (known locally, obviously, as Oom Tienie). Look out for his grave, and that of his wife Beatrice (known as Baby). It’s a gloriously pretty spot with brilliant displays during Spring.

Then of course there’s the vast West Coast National Park, all sandy bays, wildlife aplenty and some of the best wildflower-spotting in South Africa. Carpets of yellow Magriet, white rain Daisy, orange Gousblom and pink Senecio create colour patterns that change from one week to the next, as some varieties fade, and others pop up in their place.

Details: For more info, or to book walks, visit darlingwildflowers.co.za

Where to stay

Darling Lodge Guest House is a charming guest house that harmoniously blends old and new, and reflects the romantic name of the little town. Owned and managed by the Swiss born Stephan Moser and Oliver Studer, the guesthouse is perfectly situated for those wanting to explore.

The carefully restored main house, whose oak floors were originally laid in the 1850s, has Victorian charm, and you can stay in one of the three country-style rooms, while the more modern garden annex has another three rooms, with a pretty grapevine-covered patio which overlooks the pool. For longer stays, there are spacious suites … like the other accommodation options, they’re stylish and comfortable and each shows off, and is dedicated to, a local artist. When you’ve had your fill of flowers, a visit to the artist’s workshop can be arranged, and is well worth putting aside time for. The lodge, which falls under the Cape Country Routes banner, has all you need … Wi-Fi coverage throughout, a cosy TV lounge for those who can’t live without Netflix, an honesty bar and a library, and ample space to relax in the garden. Generous breakfasts are served in the breakfast room or on the patio.
Details: darlinglodge.co.za, Facebook @Darling Lodge Guest House, Instagram @darling_lodge_guest_house

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