Houghton Heritage

Tomorrow is Heritage Day, a South African public holiday.

South Africa has lots of public holidays. I have trouble keeping track of them and what they mean. Heritage Day is pretty simple though — it’s a day to celebrate South Africa’s heritage. This can mean basically anything, because South Africa, like the United States, is a very diverse place with lots of different heritages. So basically, Heritage Day is an excuse to take the day off from work and do fun cultural things. Heritage Day falls on a Monday this year, which means we have a whole long weekend of cultural celebrations to choose from.

Today, my friend Horst and I celebrated Heritage Day weekend by going on a tour of private gardens in Upper Houghton, sponsored by a local charity called Gardens of the Golden City.

Nice concept.

Gardens are a big deal in Jozi. As I’ve mentioned before, Jozi is the largest urban forest on earth — there are 6 million trees in this city. Stuff grows easily here. And Houghton, one of Jozi’s wealthiest and most historic neighborhoods, has some of the best gardens in town.

Here are a few photos from the tour.

An interesting Houghton residence.

The clivia is one of South Africa’s most well-loved indigenous flowers. This bunch took a beating during last weekend’s hail storm, but I think they’re still beautiful.

A wall of delicate little daisies.

One of two houses along the tour that was set up as a tea garden. Cool house. The food was good, too.

Paella. Seems like a strange offering for a South African heritage celebration. But whatever, it was delicious.

Does anyone know what this flower is? Neither Horst nor I have ever seen it before.

I don’t know what these are either. They look like sweet peas, smell like lilacs, and grow on vines.

Bee on lavender.

Houghton’s most beautiful indigenous garden. Can you find me in there? (Photo: Horst)

In addition to the gardens, we toured two historic schools in Houghton: St. John’s College and King Edward VII School. Here’s Horst at St. John’s. I toured St. John’s once before on a photowalk, but it was fun to go back and see different stuff.

I actually asked one of the garden club ladies what these flowers are, and she told me. Then I forgot. I would make a terrible botanist.

Blue gums are an invasive species in South Africa. I normally think they’re ugly, but this one is beautiful. It doesn’t seem to have bark — the trunk is completely smooth. I’ve never seen one like that before.

Archways at St. John’s.

I feel very cultured now, and it was nice to get out after a couple of weekends hiding out at home. I’ll be exploring more Joburg heritage tomorrow.

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31 Comments

  • Reply campbellisaac September 24, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I think that tree may actually be what we call a ‘ghost gum’ in Australia, which is a different kind of eucalypt to the blue gum (Tasmania’s floral emblem, haha)

    • Reply 2summers September 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks Campbell, that’s nice to know. I’ve never seen one like that in SA. This particular tree was stunning — I could properly capture it in my photos.

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough September 24, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Love the perspective of the 2nd photo, Heather. Gosh, I’ve missed getting to read your posts. I should be back to a regular blogging schedule Monday morning. About time, right?
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • Reply 2summers September 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks Kathy. Glad to have you back!

  • Reply catherine September 24, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Thank you for the beautiful flowers.If you identify the blue and white flower, could you please let us know? Good day, Catherine

    • Reply 2summers September 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Yes Catherine, I’ll let you know. No answers yet.

  • Reply Sine September 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    It’s also called “National Braai Day,” did you know that? Kinda like Memorial Day in the US, kicks off the summer season of braais… Great work on the flowers and I know it’s hard to identify them all, I once did a blog post on gardening in SA and it took me ages just to identify the stuff in my own garden. I don’t think I had any of those ones you didn’t know though, so I’m sorry I can’t help out.

    • Reply 2summers September 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Funny, I kept hearing about National Braai Day on the radio but did not make the connection that it and Heritage Day are one and the same. Makes sense though. The SA version of Memorial Day.

  • Reply Caitlin September 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    It’s usually easier to identify flowers if you can see the leaves too….but I’m pretty sure mystery flower 1 (the blue and white one) is a columbine of some sort (there are lots of these in Colorado!), mystery flower 2 (the vine) is a white wisteria, and mystery flower 3 (the white poofy one) is a hydrangea. Maybe I’ll be a botanist in another life…

    • Reply 2summers September 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Haha, thanks Caitlin! I do know, though, that the last flower isn’t a hydrangea. We asked and the lady said it wasn’t. The real name begins with a V — that’s all I can remember.

  • Reply Caitlin September 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    It’s usually easier to identify flowers if you can see the leaves too….but I’m pretty sure mystery flower 1 (the blue and white one) is a columbine of some sort (there are lots of these in Colorado!), mystery flower 2 (the vine) is a white wisteria, and mystery flower 3 (the white poofy one) is a hydrangea. Maybe I’ll be a botanist in another life…

    • Reply 2summers September 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Haha, thanks Caitlin! I do know, though, that the last flower isn’t a hydrangea. We asked and the lady said it wasn’t. The real name begins with a V — that’s all I can remember.

  • Reply jessicaeturralde September 25, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I find South Africa fascinating. I love the way that you have captured the flora here. Happy blogging!

    • Reply 2summers September 25, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Thanks so much! I appreciate the comment. Glad you like the post.

  • Reply jessicaeturralde September 25, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I find South Africa fascinating. I love the way that you have captured the flora here. Happy blogging!

    • Reply 2summers September 25, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Thanks so much! I appreciate the comment. Glad you like the post.

  • Reply beeseeker September 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Great post, lovely photos, we have local National Garden Days here too, entrance fees go to charities and we, gardeners, get a chance to poke our (sometimes jealous) noses into other people’s ideas for inspiration. “National braai day” now that’s appealing, did a few of those on tour in Namibia, thanks for the reminder.
    The white and blue flower is, almost certainly an aquilegia (nicknamed here “granny’s bonnet”). In our gardens they set their own seed and rarely come true to parental type, so provide endless enjoyment.

    • Reply 2summers September 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Thanks so much! I’m glad that question is finally answered.

  • Reply beeseeker September 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Great post, lovely photos, we have local National Garden Days here too, entrance fees go to charities and we, gardeners, get a chance to poke our (sometimes jealous) noses into other people’s ideas for inspiration. “National braai day” now that’s appealing, did a few of those on tour in Namibia, thanks for the reminder.
    The white and blue flower is, almost certainly an aquilegia (nicknamed here “granny’s bonnet”). In our gardens they set their own seed and rarely come true to parental type, so provide endless enjoyment.

  • Reply yourinquirerprofoundly October 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Hey There, thanks for sharing this pics. I appreciate the accompanying narrative. Nice to smell lavender instead of industrial exhaust from mines. Have you any insight into the political turmoil surrounding the labor protests?

  • Reply yourinquirerprofoundly October 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Hey There, thanks for sharing this pics. I appreciate the accompanying narrative. Nice to smell lavender instead of industrial exhaust from mines. Have you any insight into the political turmoil surrounding the labor protests?

  • Reply Roger Sivuyile November 4, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Very interesting, I live in Upper Houghton and would love to go on that heritage tour. How can I get hold of it?

    • Reply 2summers November 4, 2012 at 10:47 am

      Hi Roger, check out the link in my post for Gardens of the Golden City. They organize tours all over town but I’m sure they’ll do another one in Houghton soon.

  • Reply Roger Sivuyile November 4, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Very interesting, I live in Upper Houghton and would love to go on that heritage tour. How can I get hold of it?

    • Reply 2summers November 4, 2012 at 10:47 am

      Hi Roger, check out the link in my post for Gardens of the Golden City. They organize tours all over town but I’m sure they’ll do another one in Houghton soon.

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