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About thirty geocaching enthusiasts descended on the Reserve today. The organizer, Brenton, had gone to a lot of trouble during the past few weeks to hide caches throughout the Reserve and to find suitable clues and tasks to help Fovs.

It was a fantastic group of people, so enthusiastic and, in spite of the rain, full of fun. Because of the weather we opened the conference room for them so at least they could get their instructions in dry circumstances. IMGP7425
Here Brent is explaining to one of the teams.

Part of the fun were so called roadblocks where a certain task had to be performed so we got them to remove aliens, plant twelve trees on the main picnic site to replace the bluegums and move rocks to the entrance circle for the new rockery.

Afterwards they made themselves at home in our new braai area while we, Ellie, Cathy, Sue, Keith. Rob and Rudi huddled in the Fovs room for well-deserved coffee and snacks.

Very rewarding to see return for the effort of Friends of Van Stadens and people enjoying themselves.

The area behind the braai was beautiful with the low hanging cloud and the misty conditions, now we must just get rid of the pines to improve the view.

Miracles do happen! Tony has made a start with replacing the grass on the roof of the main Xhosa hut. It has only taken five years of gentle persuasion but now it is happening

From looking very miserable a few weeks ago the Arboretum showed us now a few gems, from a blossoming Dombeya to a flowering Pelargonium to a blooming Dietes, all wonderful.

When everybody had left it was time to drive around to the mountain to have  a look at ‘Neil se gat’ where Neil is installing the new stopcock for our water supply.

Getting close

The Open Day is getting close and there is still a fair amount of preparation to be done. Fortunately we had a good turnout of helpers today and Ellie, Cathy, Riana and newcomer Paul managed to colour-code almost all of the bags in the nursery so it will be easy to determine prices. We also had pictures of most of the plants in the nursery printed and we stuck that on an old board we had recovered from the aviary. PosterSmall

Now people will be able to see at a glance what the flowering plant looks like. Hopefully we didn’t make too many mistakes, we did the best we can.

After singing their praises last time I was not so happy with the staff this time around. They did not remove the old, unsightly shade cloth from the braai area, nor dig the hole to the water supply as promised and the cleaning up of the rubble left much to be desired. On a positive note though the cause of the cesspool was discovered and remedied by Goodman, all it took was to close a tap which had been left permanently open!

The “real men” were not so keen on painting dots on flower pots so we went and mowed the paths in the arboretum or, in Keith’s case, wielded the chainsaw to good effect on the Strelizia nicolai around the Xhosa huts.



We have looked for years at these offending plants which do not belong in the Reserve and now in less than a day they have all been cut down, what an excellent job!

I had good intentions to install at least part of the shade cloth over the braai area in preparation for next weeks geocaching event but it proved to be quite a bigger job than I thought so I didn’t get further than cutting it to length.

We concluded the day by sprinkling some coffee grinds where the porcupines have been digging again. Don’t know how effective that is because they simply find another tree to munch the roots.

Contrary to popular belief we do take time out every now and then to sniff the flowers, these in particular are beautiful at the moment.



Dots and more dots

So little time, so much to do as there is only a month left until the Open Day. It looks like the sign we put at the entrance has generated a good deal of interest as people have been asking at the office what plants will be for sale. Of course they had no idea so we gave them a printout of the database on our website. I had grand ideas to have a stocktake and put the quantities on the website but cannot find the resources so names only will have to do.

One of the decisions at last Sunday’s braai was not to put individual labels in every pot or bag but rather have a colour code indicating the price and have a notice board with names and pictures as this is a lot less work. To this end Cathy and Ellie wielded their brushes and went dotty.


In the meantime I cleaned the old and blistering paint off the noticeboard we recovered from the scrapheap in the old aviary. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble with this beautiful design and I felt bad obliterating it but it will be very useful to stick our plant pictures on.


Unfortunately Rob has been in a car accident and due to the feeble excuse of a few cracked bones in his right hand wasn’t able to do any work. Keith on the other hand wielded the chain saw and other implements to good effect to cut down Strelizias around the parking area.


In the foreground you see some bad news, the toilets cannot handle the increased usage and quite a cesspool is developing behind the toilets, A solution needs to be quickly found and implemented.

Further it needs to be mentioned that the staff has potted up more Aloes to put on the sale and also has sown more Proteaceae to keep the cycle going for next year.

Inaugural Braai

We had our monthly meeting today with the best turnout to date. Our guest speaker. the well known raptor expert Arnold Slabbert must have been an excellent draw card.  He made it very clear to us that treating problem animals such as rodents with rat poison is a very bad practice and he showed us lots of pictures of the disastrous outcomes as far as raptors and especially owls are concerned. Hopefully the people present will now apply the much better alternatives he showed us.

At the end of the talk there were so many questions and anecdotes that Arnold had trouble to get away to his next appointment. It is good to see someone so dedicated to a better, healthier environment.

When all the visitors had left, hopefully to explore the Reserve a bit further, it was time to light the fire for the first braai in our new area. The area is far from ready for bigger groups so this was for committee members only to test it out.


The consensus was that the area definitely needs more shade, the fireplace needs a bit more work, there should be some seating and perhaps some informative posters.

Various ideas were bandied about and we settled on Rest-io braaiplace so our local artist (moi) will have to come up with some design (suggestions welcome!).


A pleasant time was had by all and I think this was the start of a good tradition.