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Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show

The Ramskop Wildflower Garden in Clanwilliam  ©Malcolm Manners, License

Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show

Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show

Approximately 230 kilometres from Cape Town, lying peacefully at the foot of the Cederberg Mountains is one of South Africas 10 oldest towns, Clanwilliam. Originally known as Jan Disselsvalleij, the town was founded shortly after the arrival of the Settlers in Southern Africa in 1652. It was only in 1814 that Sir John Cradock renamed the town Clanwilliam after his father-in-law, the Earl of Clanwilliam.

Each year the town is splashed with bright vibrant colours as the barrenness of winter is brushed aside by the renewal of spring and Ramskop Wild Flower Reserve at the Clanwilliam Dam Resort, becomes a floral showcase. And with this the town becomes abuzz with activity as one of the historic buildings, the Old Dutch Reformed Church, becomes the centre of the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show. The church is filled with diligent volunteers who create a man-made landscape representing each of Clanwilliams distinct areas. The show which is usually held during the last week of August hosts visitors from near and far who all come to experience the splendour of the spring flowers and to learn about the towns amazing natural heritage. Wooden crates, straw bales and sand set the basic foundation for the exhibition which is set up three or four weeks before the opening of the show. Only four days before the show the mountain flora and other flowers with a long life are picked and transplanted into the display, while the frail and tenderer plants and blooms are placed in position during the last days. But there is more to this than just moving plants. Once the plants have been delivered to the church, botanists select one or two examples of each for the specimen department, where they are kept in bottles and identified by their botanical, as well as common names. The flowers in the exhibit are placed in water in tin cans which are buried in the sand and camouflaged with moss and sods. Permits have to be obtained from Cape Nature and signed by land-owners before the picking of flora on privately-owned or public property may proceed. All plants and flowers are picked with secateurs to prevent eradication. Due to the varying differences in topography (Cederberg, Karoo, Sandveld, Wetlands and Coastal area), Clanwilliam is blessed with an exceptional variety of wild flowers. Certain of the species in the district are found nowhere else in the world. These include the yellow Leucospermum reflexum (geel Perdekop), Proteaceae cryophila (Snow Protea), blue Lachnaea filamentosa (blou Bergaster), Widdringtonia cedarbergensis (Clanwilliam Cedar tree), Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos), Yellow Sparaxis (Botterblom), pink Cyanella alba (pienk Handjie) and the Proteaceae glabra (Kreupel Waboom). About 400 species from 32 families are exhibited at each show.

The Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show is run by the Clanwilliam Wildflower Association who aim to conserve, protect and study the wild flowers and natural flora of our area and create an awareness of and a love for their wild flowers. The association also offer assistance and advice to Ramskop Nature Reserve for the maintenance and expansion of their wild flower garden.

Flower shows have been held regularly in Clanwilliam since 1940 in various locations by various groups of people, where wild flowers were exhibited in an informal way, in small pots, and these events were sometimes combined with a Spring Ball or formal flower arrangements. Over the years the shows moved from venue to venue but it was only in 1972, after The Clanwilliam Wild Flower Association had been established under the leadership of Mrs Kay Bergh, that the Dutch Reformed Church was renovated at a cost of R5 000 and the wild flowers officially found a home.

Over and above the beautiful displays that are featured there will also be stalls selling a variety of local dishes, roosterbrood, freshly squeezed orange juice, jewellery, jams, koeksisters, scones, muffins, local wines and olives - just to name a few. The stalls will all be available in the court yard behind the Clanwilliam Tourism Office so make sure you pay them a visit and experience the local Clanwilliam hospitality!

For more information on the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show and future dates please contact:
Sue Bergh (chairman)
Tel: +27-27-4822613
Or email: sue@patrysvlei.co.za Alternatively Contact:
The Clanwilliam Information Office
Tel: +27-27-4822024
Fax: +27-27-4822361
Or email: cederberg@lando.co.za

Clanwilliam can be found by travelling north along the N7 for approximately 230 kilometres from Cape Town, towards Namibia.

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