Here are two very different flowers.
The first one is the carrion flower – it’s pretty in a weird way and smells like dead meat. I bought the plant last year from a rasta gardener at the medicinal plant garden in Franschhoek, which is well worth a visit. The gardeners are mostly volunteers who work there between paying jobs and they are happy to spend hours showing you around the garden, explaining the benefits of the wonderful bounty of South Africa’s floral kingdom. If you’re energetic enough, they also offer guided hikes up the mountain to what they refer to as secret locations – apparently there are proteas growing there which are rare and hard to find, but they know where to find them.
It took almost a year for this plant to recover from the trauma of being moved from Franschhoek to the suburbs of Cape Town and only began flowering last month. Before opening, the petals form a sort of balloon that one is tempted to squash (well, I was) and then it opens out like this, lasting about 5 days before shrivelling up and then disappearing completely. The pot is small and placed on the ground so the stench isn’t a problem, unless you get down on your knees and shove your nose almost at ground level. Of course I did that, just out of curiosity, and the smell is definitely stinky but not as bad as one would expect.
To counter-balance the above here is a lovely scented rose. It was taken at Duncan Roses, the Cape’s premier rose nursery in Elgin. I try to pop in there for a visit when I’m on my way to Kleinmond with Caroline, when we go and invade her mother. I wish I had the inclination to plant a rose garden because it would give me an excuse to buy masses of rose bushes from Duncan’s extensive selection. I prefer gardening with indigenous as much as possible but I do have one old-fashioned climbing rose.