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flowers

Cosmos in Delta Park

#Gauteng52, Week 12: The Cosmos of Delta Park

Welcome to Week 12 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Delta Park, which explodes with pink and white cosmos flowers every autumn.

This #Gauteng52 post is cheating a little because I’ve been to Delta Park — a huge city park bordering the suburbs of Craighall Park, Blairgowrie, Victory Park, and Linden — before. But up until yesterday I had never been to Delta Park during cosmos season, which transforms this park into a totally different place.

Explosion of cosmos in Delta ParkFields full of cosmos in Delta Park.

Cosmos are wildflowers that made their way to South Africa in contaminated horse feed during the Anglo Boer War; the flowers are native to the Americas. The cosmos took to the dry climate of the South African highveld and everywhere the horses fed, the cosmos grew. The flowers seem especially fond of ditches along rural South African roads and highways, and they grow like wildfire in Delta Park.

Cosmos: Johannesburg’s Autumn Leaves

March is the beginning of autumn in South Africa. We might not have the same abundance of fall leaves that I grew up with in America (there are some, but not as many), but the explosion of pink and white cosmos more than makes up for scarcity of red and orange leaves. Especially in Delta Park.

Cosmos fieldCosmos.

Cosmos in Delta Park

People and cosmosPeople romping through fields of cosmos.

I’ve made quite a few stops along the side of the road over the years to take pictures of pretty clumps of cosmos. But nothing could have prepared me for what I found in Delta Park. The park doesn’t have clumps of cosmos — it has outright seas of cosmos that grow taller than me.

Tim and cosmosMy friend Tim walks among cosmos plants nearly as tall as he is.

Fiver and cosmosFiver, whose hair and handbag perfectly match the cosmos.

Cosmos

Bee and cosmos

Bee and cosmosBees love cosmos almost as much as I do.

Cosmos and grassI love the color combination of cosmos and highveld grass, which is just starting to transition from green to brown.

Cosmos season at Delta Park is a photographer’s dream. Don’t miss it.

Tips for Photographing Cosmos at Delta Park

  1. Get over there before the end of March or early April at the latest.
  2. The biggest concentration of flowers seems to be behind the Delta Environmental Centre. Follow your GPS to the main Delta Park Car Park and you’ll see the cosmos there.
  3. Wear sturdy, closed shoes and bring mosquito repellant. The ground is quite soggy in some spots due to all the rain this summer.
  4. We arrived at 4:00 p.m. and the light was perfect. I’m sure early morning is nice too.
  5. Bring a few lenses for shooting at various focal lengths and depths of field. Shooting flowers, which are very patient models, is a great way to experiment with photography.
  6. Delta Park is a great spot to hang out and take photos at any time of year, so don’t limit yourself to cosmos season.

Field of cosmos

The main entrance to Delta Park is on Craighall Road in Victory Park.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

Pink roses at the Multiflora Market

#Gauteng52, Week 7: Johannesburg’s Multiflora Market

Welcome to Week 7 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Multiflora Market, a massive wholesale flower market east of downtown Joburg.

I love taking photos in warehouses and factories and the Multiflora Market had been high on my list for a long time. But you have to go at the crack of dawn to catch the action, and it’s not easy to drag oneself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to look at flowers. Luckily the #Gauteng52 project finally gave me the motivation I needed.

The Multiflora Market was founded in 1944 and is the largest flower market in Africa. Every morning before dawn, farmers from across South Africa ship boxes and boxes of fragrant blooms into this warehouse, where they go up for auction and get shipped out again to florists, grocery store chains, and even the guys who hawk flowers at street intersections. Buyers come to the Multiflora Market from all over Joburg, South Africa, other African countries, and even Europe.

Flowers ready for auction at MultifloraCartloads of flowers lined up for auction in the Multiflora warehouse.

Stopping to Smell the Roses at the Multiflora Market

My friend Marie-Lais and I arrived at Multiflora around 6:00 a.m. on a Thursday. We hadn’t arranged anything ahead of time, but when the staff saw us wandering aimlessly — me with my camera and Marie-Lais with her notebook — they were quick to say hello and offer to show us around the facilities. I recommend calling in advance for a tour though. The auction process is incredibly interesting, and the management is more than happy to explain things and let visitors observe the action.

I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Lady in Multiflora warehouseBefore the auction kicks off at 7:00 a.m., buyers, sellers, and Multiflora staff hustle between the rows of flowers, checking what’s available and taking notes.

Counting flowers at the Multiflora MarketThere are so many flowers. 

Pink roses at the Multiflora MarketMore pink roses than your heart desires. We didn’t see any red roses — the operations manager said sellers were holding those back in the weeks before Valentine’s Day. (We visited about three weeks ago.) As you can imagine, this room smells incredible.

Pink proteasI personally prefer proteas to roses.

The Multiflora Market auction hallAt 7:00 sharp, Multiflora staff begin wheeling carts of flowers into the auction hall. The bidding process is fully automated (no shouting auctioneers) and somewhat complicated, using those big clocks on the wall above the doors. Read about the auction clock here.

Buyer in auction hallBuyers sit at these desks with headsets on and use the built-in computers to place their bids.

Multiflora buyersThese buyers were super intense. 

Loading flowers onto conveyor beltOnce the flowers have been purchased, staff members wheel the carts from the auction hall to another huge room. The flowers are loaded onto a conveyor belt for distribution to their buyers. 

Distributing flowersGreenery on its way.

Flowers that don’t get sold — blooms with a couple of brown petals, for instance, or some other imperfection — must be destroyed. Cartloads of perfectly lovely flowers go waste and staff members are forbidden to take even one. I guess I understand why it has to be that way but it made me sad. I struggled not to swipe a couple of those unwanted blossoms for myself.

Once we’d had our fill of the warehouse, Marie-Lais and I walked over the retail section. The vendors on this side of the market sell flowers and potted plants to the public at insanely cheap prices. This is a popular place to buy flowers for weddings and parties, and there is also a small coffeeshop.

I bought a small bouquet of proteas and fynbos for R25 (less than $2) and Marie-Lais bought a huge bunch of tuberoses for R75 (about $5). We saw some great little decorative pot plants and succulents.

Succulents at MultifloraBaby succulents for sale.

Valentine plantsHappy Valentine’s Day.

The Multiflora Market is located 1 Marjorie Street in City Deep. More information at +27-11-613-4011 and www.multiflora.co.za.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

Agapanthus

I’ve been attacked by an end-of-year malaise. My blogging motivation — and motivation in general — has flagged. So I thought I’d return to my quick-and-easy Instagram for Art’s Sake project today.

agapanthus

Blooming.

The agapanthus is one of my favorite indigenous summer flowers in South Africa. I love the word, too. So exotic.

This lone agapanthus bloomed in my backyard last week. I took several photos of it but this is the only shot I’m happy with.

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.

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A Rose by Any Other Name…

Yesterday I had a picnic with the girls in the rose garden at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens.

Under a tree in the rose garden on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. It was the perfect picnic spot.

I’ve been to the rose garden many times and I wrote a post about it once, a million years ago. I hadn’t planned to blog about yesterday’s outing. But it was such an enjoyable experience that I decided it was blog-worthy. Especially because, for the first time ever, I got some decent photos of the amazing roses there.

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High and Low

I shot some photos in the garden the other day. All were snapped within a 10-foot radius of each other, although I shot half while looking down and the other half while looking up. The ‘down’ shots were taken in the middle of the afternoon and the ‘up’ shots were taken at sunset.

There’s no need to search high and low for beauty around here. It’s everywhere you look.

LOW

Tiny wildflower.

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A Post About Photowalking, and a Whole Lot More

This post was supposed to be about a photowalk. Most of you know that I’m part of the Joburg Photowalkers; last Saturday we did a walk around St. John’s College, the oldest prep school in Jozi. It’s a beautiful campus — very Dead Poets Society. It was a lovely place to explore and I enjoyed it.

The courtyard at St. John’s. It was a Saturday, unfortunately, so there were no cute high school boys walking around in jackets and ties.

As I edited through my pictures of St. John’s, I realized this post should be about something else. Or rather someone else. This post is about Joe.

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Crack-a-DOOO!

Part 3 of a 3-part series about the Cederberg Heritage Route. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

When I left off, my travel companions and I had spent a magical evening in the village of Hugel-Bugel (a.k.a. Heuningvlei). We awoke early the next morning for the final installment of our Cederberg adventure: a hike across Krakadouw Pass.

Our guide for the day was Abraham, an ageless, salt-of-the-earth kind of man. Abraham has lived in Heuningvlei all his life. He has worked tirelessly to encourage conservation and responsible tourism in the Cederberg.

Abraham.

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The Fleeting Life of a Melville Iris

Flowers bloom easily and frequently in Joburg. But they don’t always bloom for long.

The blooms on wild irises, also known as Dietes grandiflora, open gloriously for one day. The next day the blossom is shriveling, and the day after that it’s completely gone.

We have several large clumps of wild irises in our back garden and yesterday they all bloomed at once. I had my camera ready.

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Bloomin’ Aloe

I’m leaving town for a few days and probably won’t have internet access. Before I go, I want to share a few recent pictures from the garden at the Lucky 5 Star.

Before moving to South Africa, the only aloes I’d ever seen were aloe vera plants — droopy house plants that people keep around for when they burn themselves.

Here there are hundreds of different kinds of aloes, ranging from small, cabbage-sized plants to massive trees. I’ve also recently learned that aloes grow tall, flaming orange blooms in early winter.

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Escape to the Rainy Countryside

Joe and I needed a to get away. But we didn’t have much money or time to get away with.

So last weekend we decided to take a short trip to Magaliesburg, just an hour or so from Joburg, and spend the night at a B&B. I was excited at the prospect of getting away from the city, albeit for a short while, to relax in the sunshine and frolic in grassy mountain meadows.

We awoke on Saturday morning to leaden gray skies and chilly pouring rain. Ew. The weather forecast predicted little change for the rest of the weekend. We nearly opted not to go at all, but we’d already put down a deposit. So we went and I’m glad we did.

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