On the last Sunday of every month, Friends of Beacon Hill hosts a walk. As we tramped through the long damp grass, we flushed a Grass Owl from it’s resting spot and it flew low around us before settling on a safer spot. This illustrated the importance of conserving this precious scrap of grassland for many species, as well as the value in mosaic burning. Where would the owl have been able to shelter if the whole hillside had been burnt? Many years of voluntary effort by Robin Denny, John Tidbury and others clearing Invasive Alien vegetation has enabled little floral treasures like this Adhatoda abdrineda to flourish.
The flowers were fantastic, although our knowledgeable guide, Eve Hughes insisted they were usually better in December. A selection of some of the lovely plants spotted follows: Asclepias culcullataPlenty of Acalypha plants, flowering profusely – the completely different male and female flowers are interesting.The common name for Acalypha is ‘Brooms and Brushes’.
ittle indigenous Hypericum aethiopicum was flowering too. The exotic Hypericum or St John’s Wort has become invasive now in the Midlands and needs to be controlled.Plenty of Kohautia, Dierama and Sisyranthus trichostomus in flower – stems waving in the breezeand bright splashes of pink Graderia scabra hugging the ground.
We didn’t know what all the plants names were. This green flowered one was new. We knew it was an Asclepias – Asclepias dregeana var. dregeana was the recommendation by experts on iSpot.Everyone knows the Kniphofia flower – this one is laxifloraThe Howick Museum has an exhibition of Wildflowers of Beacon Hill on at the moment. It really is worth a visit. Beautiful photos by Nic Ruddiman including Schizoglossum stenoglossum.You do not have to wait until the guided walk to visit Beacon Hill – you can wander up anytime. Every season will be different – every month probably. The views across Howick are really splendid too.For more information se www.friendsofbeaconhill.wordpress.com or visit http://www.midlandsconservancies.org.za/membh.html