Volunteers in our group travelled to Pretoria for our training so that we could gather in one large group to travel to our training site. Because we are so spread out in the provinces of the Northern Cape and the Northwest, for some it is a full day's journey. Add to the mix is the fact that some of us travelled to Pretoria a day early or stayed a day late to take care of Peace Corps business (medical or other kinds of appointments, etc.). In my case, I had just enough time to squeeze in a quick visit to Pretoria's Botanical Garden with fellow volunteer Marcia.
I had great expectations so was mildly disappointed. I had big hopes of seeing a baobab tree. I wasn't terribly surprised to not see one as I know I reside too far south in Africa to see them. I'll have to make a trip to Botswana to see one. (A trip to Botswana is feasible.)
Also, I had expected to see "flowers" in a botanical garden. However, we're in the middle of summer here in South Africa, so the blooming season, pretty much, is over.
Also, I hadn't realized how lucky I am to live so near an outstanding display of regional flora with Bernheim Forest, near Louisville, KY.
I did get to see a fever tree (Acacia xanthophloea), which is a second-in-line favorite (photo top right). I'm cheating here because I actually saw this one in Pretoria proper. There was a fever tree in the garden but we were being attacked by biting ants at the time and I couldn't stand still for a photo. I love these trees. The bark gives of a lime-green shimmer.
I've heard two accounts of the common name. One is that it's called "fever tree" because the bark was used as a cure for malaria; the other is that the trees typically grow where the malaria-carrying mosquitoes live.
Below the photo of the fever tree is a photo of the Ndebele-style buildings that housed the "medicinal plant" interpretive part of the Botanical Garden. Marcia and I both enjoyed reading about South African medicinal plants--and the buildings were neat too!
And the photo below the Ndebele village is of a protea (Protea cynaroides), I think. I had "lost" Marcia and was worried about finding her (typical of me) and couldn't find any signage. These lovely blossoms were growing on a large bush, in a way similar to how oleander grows.
Below is a photo of Marcia and me by a lovely, cool waterfall.
And the very bottom photo is of my favorite find of the day. Now, this guy is AMAZING. His common name is Elegant Grasshopper and I'm too tired to search for his Latin name. I LOVE HIM! I'm sure I'll learn to hate him very much because they're reputed to be very, very destructive in the garden.
I have more photos posted to my Facebook page at the following link (you need not be a Facebook member to access the photos):
It was a lovely afternoon. And Ms. Karen, who wears long sleeves and long pants in 120-degree heat because she doesn't want to burn her skin wore short sleeves, didn't take an umbrella (for shade), or sunscreen because the day was cool and overcast. Guess who was sunburned?