Rainforest in the Bushveld
Just north of Nelspruit, humbly signposted (compared to the flashy casinos and malls) I found the Lowveld National Botanical Garden.
As you’d expect in sub-tropical surroundings, it’s a lush place, with a incredible rainforest section sporting enormous raffia palms and frilly-topped matumi trees along with the unmistakable large-leafed mopheads called forest fever trees.
Further along there were the bushveld knobthorns, with their warty trunks and fine lace vegetation. I caught the smell of a potato bush, delicious and unmistakable in scent but utterly nondescript in appearance.
I came across the unusual blooms of the Mandela’s Gold strelitzia bushes not far from the original strelitzia with its orange flame-like blooms. There is also that rarest of plants, the Pondo coconut, aka Jubaeopsis caffra, growing here, far from its original home on the Wild Coast.
The Garden has dozens of cycads. Fingering the tough prickly leaves, I can only wonder at the persistence and tooth strength of the dinosaurs that ate them millions of years ago.
This green space…. So close to the city, yet so very far away. I’ll be back.