One of those days when it was hard to get motived to spend the day helping out at Van Stadens especially when talking to Goodman it was quite clear that his mind was elsewhere and if we want the massive clearing up of the blue gums to be done it is up to ourselves.
As promised Neil arrived to work on the shade house, admirable to sacrifice a day of his well earned holiday to come and do some heavy digging while we took some pine logs to the arboretum and then started to stack more branches on the picnic site. While doing that we spotted Rob in the far corner by the fence fighting with coppiced blue gums which have seeded themselves long ago from the neighbouring property.
Ellie is still on her quest to find and identify a rare plant which looks like this so when she spotted it we had to take a pic to make sure this wasn’t it:
It becomes a bit monotonous to cut branches and drag them away so I interspersed that with cutting some logs as well. I am pleasantly surprised that the wood cuts fairly easily and the awful sap is no longer there to clog up the chainsaw so it will be feasible to clear up most of trunks eventually.
The picture below tells a good story, first of all the new indigenous replacement trees we planted a while ago are doing very well, secondly the huge stack of branches is getting ready for Sisanie to apply a match and thirdly there is still a lot of firewood lying around, hopefully the visitors will take from those piles instead of stealing the logs we have put around the new trees.
Perhaps some cynics will add a fourth point and say that the grass needs mowing.
In the meantime Neil had progressed well with the shade house, adding shade cloth on the open side will surely protect the plants better whilst giving us a little more space as well.
Rob went and planted some Sansevieras around Jenny’s succulent garden so all in all a good day.
Lots to do today so we wasted no time to go and chat in the office and headed straight down to the arboretum to install the modified steps into the bird hide. This should make it a little more user friendly for the not so agile bird watchers.
Surprise to say the least that the mounting holes still lined up so the steps were back in no time, then it was a bit of a struggle to put some blocks under the seat to raise it slightly and lastly the railing we fitted the railing.
When all was done I sat there for a few minutes and spotted Drongo, Cape Sugarbirds and plenty of lbj’s whilst also enjoying the birds eye view over the fynbos.
Interlude for tea and then to the main picnic site to clean up some more branches. We were very pleasantly surprised that Sisani had done as promised and burnt our previous stacks of branches, very neat and tidy and never mind that he left a clump of blue gum seedlings right next to pile. It was a difficult clean-up with gnarled, intertwined branches full of seedpods and we were not quite finished by lunchtime.
Quick inspection of the misting house confirmed that the ants have departed and a quick stroll through the nursery confirmed that it needs some tlc soon in the form of weeding, rebagging and sorting.
After lunch Rob and Cathy were off to Turtle Creek to tackle some wattle on the dam wall while I was conned into cutting a few Port Jacksons on the mud slide which turned out to be at least thirty with some wattle and other nasties for good measure.
First thing though was to cut down the Strelizias we had spotted on our previous Forest Walk happily invading the forest stream.
This brought us to a few places in the forest where one usually does not venture with its just rewards of some lovely plants on the rock faces.
We scouted around for the aloes which should be flowering by now, plenty aloes but no flowers yet except one in a very inaccessible and awkward place so that will have to wait for another day.
Back to the picnic site to complete our clean up and by that stage no time left for our usual finishing up cup of coffee. We even found the gate to the nursery already locked as the staff loses no time closing up in the afternoon.
The first really cold day of the season with a biting wind. Good thing though that it put a stop to the horse flies and that one needs to keep working to stay warm.
The aim was to clear the track behind the toilet on the main picnic site of blue gum branches and, even though we got quite far, we didn’t manage enough by teatime to get all the way to the huts. We built quite a stack of branches though so I arranged with Goodman for Sisanie to burn them to make space for some more. Hopefully he will have done that by next week.
On inspection of the misting house I discovered that the ants really like the warm soil and had built quite a nest amongst our seedlings so that got quickly taken care of. Looks like the earthworms have also multiplied, don’t know if that is a good thing for cuttings.
After tea we decided to cut down some dead Widdringtonias in the Arboretum and replace them with new seedlings. While Ellie planted the new ones I took measurements of the steps of the bird hide to make a small modification to make it more accessible. I ended up taking it home with me and this is the result:
After lunch it was too miserable to do the planned sorting out in the nursery so we went for a walk instead to follow the forest stream up to the source. With the running water it is lovely up there.
Just some of the flowers did not quite appeal to us:
so we will have to go back there with some poison.
We fought our way up through the dense bush up to the N2 hoping to be able to follow the fence or the powerline. Both were impassable so we ended up climbing over the fence, walk along the N2 for a while and descend via the mud slide where we found this lovely Pelargonium amongst many aliens.
Sunday was the morning for the trail run. Sheena had come out and marked the route and about thirty runners got their instructions and did either the 9km or the 5km loop.
We had given strict instruction to include part of the Nymph trail past the Lilly Pond to get more feet on that trail and the feedback was that it was a most enjoyable section. The runners would like more regular training runs in the Reserve so watch this space…
When all the runners had departed we went for a botanizing walk in the River Walk area to look for Aloes and I spotted the turnoff of the old Boulder trail which has been closed for many years. This, of course, begs for some exploration in the near future.
We ended up and Turtle Creek to photograph some tracks in the sand and got this Mongoose print.
It so happened that this weekend we had both the Fovs monthly meeting and the Free Spirit trail training run so we took the opportunity to get some feet on the new trail and get some feedback on it.
Saturday we started the walk from the office and took the southern section towards the Forest walk. Fortunately Sisanie had seen his way clear during the week to mow the necessary section and they looked very good.
It had rained quite a bit during the week so some paths were a bit moist. At the start of the Forest some of us decided to take the shortcut back to the upper section of the Nymph trail while the rest of us included the Forest walk in a clockwise direction.
There were some lovely fungi in the forest and it was good to see the stream running vigorously again.
Quite a few Streptocarpus were in flower but the special aloe we were looking for not yet.
Some of the group had gone ahead and got lost and ended up on the Link Trail. It didn’t seem to be a problem because everybody ended up back at the office for tea and some of us stayed on after for a lunchtime braai at the braai area.
The general consensus was that the Nymph trail is a very worthwhile extension to the trail network. Providing adequate and understandable signage will be a challenge though as one can do many loops and variations.
After the usual morning tasks such as hacking and looking after the nursery we went and planted some more indigenous trees to replace the pines. Jenny has donated a lot of trees for that purpose and, if they all take, there will be quite a forest there in the future.
Rob set about digging some holes and planting them with Ellie offering plenty of advice and encouragement, not to mention carrying huge logs to put around the new trees to protect them from inadvertent mowing.
Keith in the meantime did what he does best and attacked the trunk of the pine tree. All branches have been removed and in good time we will cut up the trunk as well. I have some ideas for log furniture which might happen.
First though we will shift our attention to cleaning up the main picnic site. This is quite a job but hopefully a few hours every Wednesday will eventually see it cleared.