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SOUTH AFRICA
 29/1-17/7 2007   DIARY  3

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From Diary 2 
 22/2. It starts to rain, when we starts to work. Think it is bad, until I hear: It is a blizzard in Denmark, frost, wind, 40 centimetre snow and piles on meters. Continues with the Portulacaria I left Thursday, and ad an other 340 to the bed. Then I weed a bit, and the weather improves. After lunch I cut, repot and pot the cuttings of some large Crassulas. Some more weeding, and that day has gone.

 Spends the evening with yesterdays photos. A slideshow from the tour and some new photos for the caudiciform pages. Guess there are no reason to be carrying my camera all the time, any more. It is tough to it, and there are not much I haven't seen in the nursery now.

 23/2. Caught a snake last evening, but without noticing it. Poor bugger got caught in the door. The day starts in the succulent and news house. Shifting a lot of plants to make room. Repot some mother plants to large pots, and squeeze them in. Fill gabs after sale until lunch, and then there are more mother plants to repot.

 The last job of the day it to plant the large Aloes we found in Port Elizabeth. Very leading, I ask Paul who's bright idea it was to bring them. He has no recollection of any Aloes, what so ever... They go into the horse's field, along the fence. Finish the Production Plan; only 56 points this week - but I did take a day off...

 Got a letter to day, confirming I have been accepted at the school. I thought that was in order, but; nice to have that fixed.

 Event though I have bought enough food and stuff to last from Saturday to Saturday, I have to shop to day; the milk couldn't stand the distance. Joins with Mandy, and while we are at the mall, we might as well look for some cloths. I am very pleased with the working pans I bought for 8 €; they are even long enough! Got to have some more. Good quality T-shirts: 2€ and so on.

 I'm invited to braai along with Mandy's sister and family: Cosy, and brilliant food. Then Paul introduces me to braffee; Local brandy and coffee. It really take a strong personality to stop at two!

 24/2. This day should turn out real hot; around 33C. It is cloudy, but is not more than eight. Well, it is 20C, and with the blizzard at home in mind: Pretty nice weather. After ten, the heat is on! I take care of my laundry, and repot my large Fockea. Then I pinch the little bakkie, and drive inland to hit the mountains, hoping to be able to navigate home! With that in mind, I bring plenty of water.

 First into George and then north pass Saasveld (red tour on MAP). Follow the mountains, and get quite high. Stops when I pass the "Pepsi-river", and walks along the river and then along the small road. Here are caudiciforms; some large in the roots of possible Cyphostemma and some smaller of Kedrostis, probably africana or nana.

 They are flowering, and I can't help my selves: I got to have a pair. Find two smaller ones among the hundreds on the roadside. One is high and slim, the other real flat. Here, as anywhere else, where I have seen them, the leaves changes shape from triangular roundish to rather serrated. Some are almost succulent, other paper thin.

 The road have been small, but paved. Now, it changes to gravel, and at the same time, few houses turns up. The area changes a lot: High hills, green farmland with milk cattle, small artificial lakes, pine- and indigenous forests. It is all fertile and green.

 Makes a few other short stops, and a long in Woodville. Can't refuse a sign: Big Tree. It is a Yellow Wood; Podocarpus falcatus. It is not that big, only twelve meters in circumference and 33 high, but the walk though the forest is interesting. Been working a bit on taxonomy, and tries to find members of the three Classes I don't have: EQUISETOPSIDA, LYCOPODIOSIDA and PSILOPSIDA. They are horsetails and something looking like mosses. Guess it is only mosses I find, but this micro world is interesting and beautiful as well.

Had thought, I could make it all the way to Knysna, but at five, I'm only 1/4 of the way. I turn around, find a road heading at the coast, and find the main road at Wilderness. Great tour, hope I can borrow the bakkie an other time.

 Spend a lot of the evening sorting, uploading and writing text to the photos.

 25/2. Good thing I made the tour yesterday; it is cloudy, and even a bit of rain to day. The temperature just makes it over 20C, and I have energy like a lizard in a fritz. A good friend of mine cheers me up: He send photos of the 35 centimetre snow, covering Denmark. Only exceptions are the much higher piles, blown together by the wind. An other very good friend boost the spirit an nudge more; she have given me the latest Meat Loaf CD, which I open to day: Great!

 Spend the day cleaning my rondawel and trying designing a special pot to the two Kedrostis while I enjoy Meat Loaf. Have been cooking on my supper since half pass ten: I'm making a traditional South African meal, and my favourite: Oxtail. Should be served with mashed potatoes if you ask me, but it will be fries - if the oven can get warm enough.

 The oven is not warm enough, but they are crispy - because they are dry. Well, it is still a real delicious meal!

 26/2. Partly clouded, small showers and just below 20C. I wish the succulent department had more tunnels! Squeeze in the last large Portulacarias, and then it is time for some Bulbines. In the lunch break, I take a car to the nearby nursery I tried some days ago. There are open between eight and five, Saturday is closed as well, so the lunch break is my only chance to buy a branch scissor. Or not: It is their lunch break as well! Hard firm to deal with!

 Back again, I first I shift some Bulbines, then I plant some and the day ends with preparing some "wild" for planting; cutting them in to pieces and removing dead leaves. There are still a shower from time to time, and the preparing is in a sheet.

 Spends the evening digging deeper into the EQUISETOPSIDA, LYCOPODIOSIDA and PSILOPSIDA. Find all the families and the number of species.

 27/2. Lungiswa is ill, and I'm left alone. Make the last Bulbines, fill the gabs after yesterdays large sale, water some Plectranthus and most of the succulent house. Starts weeding, and that is depressing: I thought we had it under control, but the last couple of weeks rain and sun have caused an exploration.

 The cutting department have decided to empty their house, and I'm forced to collect ten square meters of cuttings, and I have nowhere to place them! The succulent department is only a couple of month old, and we have nothing. We just squeeze us in, in other departments.

 It has been a hot day, but at five, when we leave, the sun disappears as well, and the temperature drops. I continue my work on the new classes: Use the library, and finds out which members I might be able to find around here. That give me a list of names, but I will need photos to find them in the wild. Surf some more, and come up with some. Seems like these ancient groups of plant can be found all around the earth.

 28/2. An other day with cutting, planting, watering, spraying and weeding. The first month have past, and I don't experience much new. There are some plans, but I will change the diary to an other form, not based on days. Upload each Saturday - I think...

 1/3. It turns up, I try something new to day. First I design and order some tools for digging up large caudiciforms in the wild. The we sew seeds, which is much more complicated than I thought. The soil is being filtered several times, and placed in layers and then pressed. Water is added, and the layers get mixed. New sand on top, press again. Small seeds mixed with sand (which my grandfather thought me 35 years ago), and fine sand covers the seeds. Press again, and cover the smallest seeds' trays with glass. The glass have to be turned each day to prevent drops.

 After work, I dismantle my oven. Swap the top and bottom heating unit, and viola: I can make fries.

 2/3. Same procedure as other days... I only makes 50,75 points this week, got to do better... It is caused by too much work by hour, not rate.

 3/3. Weekend, and I had a dream of continuing my discovery of the mountains, but the weather does not encourage: Total cloudy and part rain. An other day at the PC, creating new pages for my site. Bit of luck when I went shopping: It finally succeeded me finding a etui for my scissors, a hat with wide shade and a raincoat. Went by one of the other nurseries, but nothing new and interesting.

 4/3. Much better weather to day. Borrows the small car, and continues my exploration of the mountains. The views are breathtaking! Plenty of flowering fynbos, indigenous dense forest, giant green hills with huge hordes of grassing milk cattle, few pine forests, deep gorges, bare rocks, mountains disappearing up in the clouds. What puzzles me is the scarce population in a fertile area like this. Might just be, the landlords like privacy? 

 I follow the main gravel road until a sign: Bergplaas tempts. Up and up, through fynbos and pines. Stops several times to search for plants, animals and views. Here are an abandons of plants I know from culture, and some I newer seen before. Different succulents, two species of Lycopodium, orchids in the trees, different Pelargoniums, mistletoe, colourful beetles, giant cutthroats, butterflies, vultures, large groups of both swallows and storks and much more.

 The small road passes a small creek on the other side of the pass, and here I find sundew and frogs and much more from this habitat. The road ends at a gate, and I have to turn back. Back at the main gravel road, I head further east. Drives only a few kilometres, and just have to stop again to explorer.

  Around three, I take a road leading south, out to the coast and the main highway. Make a wrong turn, and loops back to the mountain, but what? At one stop, I spots some Dioscorea, probably sylvatica. In the nearby tree, some fruits hangs. Deep down in the gorge, the river zigzag it's way towards the sea. At five, I finally reaches a mobile-net, and can call home and tell: I won't be able to make it to the concert tonight. It is still a long an beautiful way home, and I won't miss any of it.

 Arrivals at the nursery around six, with some astonishing experiences - and 431 photos! Will take some time to sort them through! Now, I have seen half of the mountain road to Knysna. See the blue tour on the MAP. While I work with the photos, the wind and rain returns with new force.

 5/3. Pouring down from late night to end of work day. Water and mud everywhere. We defiantly need more tunnels in the succulent department. The plants might stand the abundance of water, but I'm not really enjoying it! The rain returns with new force at eight.

 6/3. Tried something new to day: Driving a tractor. Well, I did it a lot 30 years ago, but haven't done it since. To the other's big surprise, I even succeeded reversing with the trolley.

 In a meeting with Nanna and Mandy we decided to let me stay in the succulent department. I could work in Trees, Ever Greens, Bulbs or Colour Pots, but I would like to stay. Having a hard time understanding the other leaders - Afrikaans is not that easy to learn! Further more; I would like to follow the cuttings and seedlings I have been part of producing. And, if I'm going to take care of the department while Lungiswa is in Denmark (of all places), I would like to follow it some more. Then I can join the other groups if they do something special , that the succulent doesn't.

 I still have some other tasks I should find time for: Repotting Cussonias, rescuing Fockeas, photoing plants for the nursery's homepage and see some of the surrounding nurseries, botanical gardens and nature. I have to learn more about making cuttings, scouting and controlling pest and ID'ing plants. And, somehow, I ended up designing the succulents new and very missed planting and storing house.

 7/3. Starting the big task of lifting the Cussonias, to form and explore their caudexes. Everybody else are concerned about the top of the plant, but I care about the root. The green stuff on top is just a thing you can't avoid! There are a lot, and I just get about a quarter done during the day. Then they have to be pruned and shifted in to a tunnel. They all have to be treated individual, and their characteristics being used to create a sculpture. They don't have to be alike, like other nursery plants, actually; it is better they are real different. Small dense, twisted and weird looking, and not the slim, tall tree they would have been. Kind alike bonsai, but not the same.

 8/3. To day, I learn two other employees how to treat the Cussonias as caudiciforms. Explain; it is a complete new way of thinking, and they shall forget all they have learned. Every plant is unique, and have to be treated special, to get the most out of it's characteristic. It is like sculpting, but with a given start. Turns up very well, and we get half of them proceeded. Should be able to finish to morrow. While we work, many of the others comes bye, and stand and steer: They think we are going insane: 90% of the root over soil level and all the leaves cut off!

 Spends the evening working on my moss photos, and a site for them. It is amassing how good close-up photos my little Canon Ixus 4.0 can make! Turns up, I probably have discovered the last five Classes from the Plantae Kingdom. I wonder if I can find them again, and I will be able to keep them alive?

 9/3. Went a bit better this week. Made 78 of the expected 41 points. I only have help with the Cussonias for a a couple of hours, and don't get through them. The weather have been perfect; around 30C and full sun. Hope it last through the weekend.

 10/3. The weather is perfect, at 7:30, the sun is shining and the temperature already on 20C. Leave the nursery at nine, heading for the mountain road I have been discovering. It's name is Seven Pass Road, at that suits fine. I drive back by the main coast road to where I left last.

 One of the interesting plants I find looks like a Venus Fly Trap; Dionaea, and grows on a real open path along with Sundew; Drosera  (same family: Droseraceae) and nothing else. I'm not sure what is is; there are only one species of Dionaea: D. muscipula), and it is not that one - I think.

 In a farmer's enclosure, I find a group of blesbok. I sneak slowly closer to get a good photo, but it turns up the biggest problem is; not to get the camera lens greased by a wet snout.

 Make stops at open hill sides, by rivers and creeks and artificial small, old lakes. It turns out to be a real hot day; mid thirties. At one point, the large coolerfan don't stop, which is normal enough for up to ten minutes, but when I get back after an half hour or so, it still runs. Not surprisingly, the battery is almost flat.

 Ends up walking several kilometres to a shooting range to ask for help. Nice people, drives me back, and try jumpstarting cables. Nope! Then we put his battery in my car, and that helps. The alarm goes on, and I think I have to turn the engine off, to reset is. Waits to I get to the big asphalt road at Knysna, and gain a descent speed. Works, but I head straight home! See the green tour on the MAP.

 Well, I have done the Seven Pass Road, but I would like a few more stops at the Knysna end. No one home at the nursery, probably at the beach along with every body else. Spend the rest of the day cleaning, washing, sorting photos and trying to determine the name on the Venus Fly Trapper-like plant I found.

 11/3. The weather is fare from as great as it were yesterday; cloudy and around 20C. Wait until one o'clock before I trust it won't rain. Due to a lack of a reliable car, I decides to walk to Victoria Bay; I am, after all, living on Victoria Bay Road. Fields, small hills, few houses and great nature.

 Victoria Bay is a nice bay with bathing and surfing. A strip of B&B and houses for rent along the slim shoreline in front of large hills. Try the shore to the west, but is is a bit too rocky to be pleasant. See, what I first think is a road op on the mountainside though east. Fights my way through dense bush, and find the famous railroad; Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, and follows it east on. It is from 1811, and the cuttings through the rocks have been covered with fynbos, succulents and other interesting plants.

 Passes marvellous views, both over the sea and up through gorges. At one point, I surprises a group of klipdassie or hyraxes: Procavia capensis. Looks like rabbits, but their closest living relative are the elephants! Passes a few tunnels and bridges, and ends at the highway by Kaaimans River. Walks along it till am back at the nursery. The sides are interesting; I have been looking at them each time I drown here, but this time, I get the flower photos. Back after four hours walking, rather thirsty, but with 250 photos. It does not look like much at the map, but it is around 15 kilometres.

 My camera has it mind of it's own, and most of the photos are in a real large size I can't reduce to the size I use to use, automatically. Spends some hours on that, and ends up having dinner at ten.

 12/3. Offers to go to George with the VW Caravel, when Paul drives the girls to school. The VW once again need to have an appointment with the mechanic. I might be getting old, but I really like the cars without computers! Now, even the most simple problem is a mystery, unless you have the the matching analysing computer.

  It is amassing how busy the town is! Driving and walking people over all.

 Been asking around in the horticulture offices, in Copenhagen Botanical Garden and in some carnivorous plant newsgroups, and no one can come up with a name for the plant I found Saturday. Paul and Mandy helps me, asking two of South Africa's leading botanicals.

 Getting through the Cussonias, and after some planting, I try something new: Preparing some huge Fockeas for Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.  Well; I spent several hours untangling their vines.

 Get some alarming news from Denmark; my good friend and coming boss at the botanical garden is on Galapagos on a scientific expedition as part of the Danish Galatea Expedition III. One month, closed islands, all paid for. My envying ends when I learn he have been attacked by a shark. Got three deep cuts in the arm, lost way too much blood, but have been flown to Quito, and will recover full, with some scars to show the grandchildren!

 13/3. Nanna have done some homework, and she comes up with a likely name for my mysterious plant: Alopidea carpensis or A.  delicatula. Can't find photos of them, but other members of that genera have these distinguish leave edges. It is the Apoaceae family, like hemlock and carrots. Later, I get confirmation from the legendary Ernst van Jaarsveld, that it in fact is Alopidea carpensis.

 15/3. A lot of things get more and more interesting, the more you get in to them, and spend some time on the subject. Aloes are not one of those! Been pruning close to 300, from four to 100 litres bags.

 16/3. Nine of the students (get their 9. and 10. grate at the nursery between working), are graduating to day, and at two, there are speeches and lakker snags at the lawn.

 17/3. Weekend, and nice sunshine - until eight! Spend the day washing, shopping and on the PC, working on the taxonomy pages. New layout for the main Taxonomy page (can't be seen, but it is faster) and a lot of time on the Taxonomy Explanation page. Is it just me, or is this a bit difficult?

 Watch TV in the evening, and the most amassing thing happens: The power failure occurs in the last bit of the credits, after the film! Must be caused by the heavy rain.

 18/3. Mixed weather, and I fumble with the taxonomy of Algae! At ten, I just have to take the chance, and start exploring the other side of the old railroad line. It is not that interesting as the other way. The terrain pretty much the same, but it have been planted with pines, and they have been cut down recently. A small river (which can grow large) follows the railroad, and in heavy rain periods: Wash it away!

 Ends up where the new highway passes the huge mall, east of George, and follows the highway home. Route 5 on map. Starting to be rather windy, and that gives me an excuse to stay inside, looking at photos and cleaning my rondawel for the rest of the day.

 19/3. Among other work, I get to bring my own idea out in practise: Our x-open; the ground bed with Bulbines, is way too open: Many plants were washed away. If they are regrouped, there will be room for the leftovers from the preparing of the Bulbines we got from outside. Me and my ideas: Hard work, and the ground have to be levelled as well.

 Starts at the workshop: Get the bend corners of the spade cut off, and the rive straiten. Can't work with spoiled tools. Turns out nicely, and after the bed is nice, I'm really ready for sitting down - in the shadow. Suits fine: Next job is planting the one to three millimetres seedlings we sew three weeks ago. My fingers suddenly feel real big and clumsy! Back to the workshop and produce two micro-spades.

 Great help, but after a couple of hours work, I have only used less than four square centimetre from the 25x35 centimetre seed tray, and we got 15 seed trays more! Lungiswa have made approximately the same, and we figure we be finish around - next year.

 21/3. It is a public holiday: Human Rights Day, and I decides to try the direct road to Ballot's Bay. It is only around four kilometres each way, but in a incredible terrain: Steep hills, deep gorges. Few real nice houses along the road, clinging to the steep hillsides. Plenty of succulents on the open walls and Kedrostis and Cyphostemma in the forest areas. I reaches the bay, and climbs the Granit rocks. Find some small caves with some great formations.

 The road back is long and steep! Thinking on following the river, to the other crossing. Good I didn't: It is an other river! Spend the rest of the day, inventing watering automats for my few plants. Have a few problems: The bottles collapses due to vacuum, the tubes are too small, making surface tension a problem, and general lack of tools and material.

 22/3. Trash day - literally. Get to empty the huge enclosure - with my bare hands - in to the nurseries biggest truck along with an other worker. There are plenty of plastic bags from fertilizer and alike, but they are empty. It is a delicate mix of plastic and organic material, which have been added just the right amount of rain a week or two ago. We drive to the other side of town, and unload - by hand.

 Continuing my development of the perfect watering automat, and ends up with one that actually works. Had an idea of one, that should be watering, after the given water had been used by the plant, after a given time. I'm sure it will work, but I can't make it here. The one I make is the classic thicken-waterer - just with hoses.

 23/3. One smelly day after an other: To day it is the big Humac-day. Spend the whole day with chicken-shit in my right hand, fertilizing 2000 plants, one by one, and watering them afterwards. Don't seem to be able to wash that smell off.

 In the evening, Mandy and I drive to Wilderness, where there are a marked. Pretty good local musicians, homemade delicatessens and craft from more northern part of Africa. Real cosy, but it have been a long (and smelly) day.

Fresh day in Diary 4

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