10 October 2018

Request for volunteers in an Urban Pollinator Research Project.

PhD candidate, Peta Blom, is recruiting volunteers to make observations of beetles in gardens in Meadowridge. She is gathering data on all flower-visiting beetles, but she is particularly interested in monkey beetles, which are an important family of pollinators with rich diversity in the Cape Floristic Region. Recently she trapped some really interesting monkey beetles in Molinera Way, Meadowridge (you might have seen her blue, yellow and white dishes hiding in the grass when you took your dog out). Peta wants to know which beetles are using gardens (why) and how far they are travelling from where I trapped them. The data you collect will be used in her Ph.D. and she hopes to be able to provide insight into landscaping and urban design for diversity.
 
The United Nations have declared Cape Town as the most biodiverse city in the world. Normally this is described in terms of the amazing flora in our region, but it is also diverse in other creatures including, mammals and insects. The Western Cape has the highest diversity of monkey beetles in the world ad many of our most prized flower species (in particular the Iridaceae) have co-evolved alongside the rich monkey beetle diversity and rely on them for seed production. This project seeks to understand to what extent private gardens are  providing habitat and foraging ground for monkey beetles – particularly those gardens around fragments of natural vegetation as can be found on Meadowridge Common. The beetles are in the adult stage of their lifecycle in spring and climb into flowers to find and compete for a mate. The project will conduct observations over two spring seasons in 2018 and 2019, with the pilot starting in October 2018. I am calling for volunteers in Meadowridge to participate in making weekly observations of the flowers in their gardens over a period of 6-8 weeks during spring. Each observation should take about 15 min and will include documenting the beetles in flowers in a 16 m2 area in the garden along with variables such as the weather conditions of the day and garden orientation. This study is the first truly urban study of monkey beetle populations to be conducted anywhere in the world.

To sign up, or just to find out more, please write to Peta Brom at brompeta@gmail.com. 

Peta Blom, B. Phil (Sustainable Development Planning and Management), (Stel) cum laude; M.Phil EGS (UCT), PhD Candidate (UCT)


25 September 2018

Save the date ...

 
For the love of Wild Bees is the subject of our next talk on Monday 29 October 2018 at 7h30 pm  in the Meadowridge Library, Howard Drive, Meadowridge (click here for Google map directions). Our speaker is Jenny Cullinan of the Wild Bee Research Group (see their web page here, as well as their Facebook Page). Jenny will speak about the important role bees play as a keystone species in the fynbos region and why we need to protect all of our wild bees. She will show the amazing world of bees and, of course, their beautiful fit with flowers. Jenny has just returned from a conference in the The Netherlands and as this will be her first talk since returning, we will hear all about what is happening in this field oversees.
For more information, please contact Roger Graham, Chairman of the Friends, at 021 715 9206 or email us at Meadowridgefriend@gmail.com.
Entry is free, everyone is welcome, and safe parking is provided. Tea, coffee and cakes will be provided.

16 July 2018

New poster for the Common

Recent clearing operations on Meadowridge Common were brought to a halt when the workers discovered a wild honeybee colony. Although this colony was known to some of the locals, it was an exciting find for many conservationists. One of the visitors drew our attention to the colony as she was concerned that it had now become exposed as half the bush it was in had been cut away. The Friends of Meadowridge Common were directed to Jenny Cullinan of the Wild Bee Research Group and with her help, and input from The City of Cape Town, we decided to make a poster to put up on the Common. If you would like to download a PDF of the poster, click here.
Visit the Wild Bee Research Group web page here, as well as their Facebook Page.

05 March 2018

Drought survivors

At the recent AGM, Fiona Watson, Botanical Officer of the Friends of Meadowridge Common Committee, gave a talk on the Meadowridge Common plants which have survived the drought that is gripping Cape Town. She presented a slideshow of her photographs of these plants, many of which are available from nurseries. Fiona recommended that gardeners in the area try to change from water-needy plants to these hardy indigenous plants that are suited to hot dry summers. A link to SANBI’s PlantZAfrica website with its wealth of information about our indigenous plants and how to grow them is provided where possible. Just click on the plant name for the link.
Carpobrotus edulis.

Ruschia geminiflora is Redlisted as Vulnerable.

Dimorphotheca pluvialis grows very well on the common in the spring, even though historically it didn't occur here until someone sprinkled some seeds.
Salvia africana-lutea
Salvia chamelaeagnea
Oxalis obtusa

Oxalis pes-caprae

Oxalis purpurea

Diastella proteoides is Redlisted as Critically Endangered

Lecuadendron salginum

Struthiola ciliata
Struthiola dodecandra

 Serruria glomerata is Redlisted as Vulnerable.
Pelargonium cucullatum

Further information can be obtained from your local nursery, and many of Cape Town's specialist indigenous nurseries like Good Hope Gardens Nursery, Dr Boomslang Indigenous Nursery and the Kirstenbosch Garden Centre tel: 021 797 1305).  Possibly the best source of local Cape Flats Sand Fynbos plants is from Caitlin von Witt who works with the City of Cape Town amongst other organizations involved with the rehabilitation of Cape Peninsula fynbos. Contact her to set up a visit to her nursery here. I highly recommend Caitlin’s Facebook page too. Specialists at Kirstenbosch are also willing to give you information about growing indigenous plants. Click here for contacts.

01 March 2018

Meadowridge Common AGM

The AGM of the Friends of Meadowridge Common was held on Monday 26 February 2018 in the Meadowridge Common Library.
The Chairman, Roger Graham welcomed members and guests and gave an overview of the year - including news of the new fence enclosing the sports fields and thus cutting off access to the Common and the dramatic decrease in the 80 year old pine trees eleven of which succumbed to the drought and fell down. This has necessitated the preventative felling of several others with the trucks and workers causing some damage to the Common's plants. The Friends have laid woodchip paths in the exposed, sandy areas and we hope that the drought will soon break. Fiona Watson, the Botanical Officer, is very concerned about the state of the Common as the number of plants has decreased dramatically in the last few years.
Other noteworthy happenings during the year included the incorporation of two new storyboards on the Common, one on the Garden Cities development scheme of which Meadowridge is one, and the other on William Purcell. The successful and enjoyable Spring Walk had been held on a September afternoon, a change from the usual morning walk, led by botanist Stuart Hall who is about to receive his PhD. Congratulations Stuart. The Friends also held a winter cake sale which gave a little boost to the finances.
Longstanding Committee member, Gordon Evans, has stepped down from the Committee and a round of applause followed the announcement that it was his 90th birthday.
Fiona Watson, the Botanical Officer, presented a very interesting slideshow on Survivors of the Drought, (see next post) and after the usual presentation and adoption of the finances of the Society by Neville Postings, Roger handed the floor to our guest speaker, Alex Lansdowne. (Click here for a summary of the talk).
Alex Lansdowne was born and raised in Cape Town and his relationship with plants started at an early age. He grew up in the southern suburbs, vegetable gardening with his grandfather - who grew enough fresh produce to feed the family every day. That evolved into an appreciation for wild plants with the encouragement of environmental educator Wendy Hitchcock (of Meadowridge) whilst in school. Alex studied Public Policy at the University of Cape Town. After a short career in politics and marketing he grew frustrated with working inside and started his business as a Restoration Horticulture Conservationist. He then spent 2 years part time with Geert Sprangers, restoration horticulturist at The City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management branch. 
Alex now consults independently to landowners on plant conservation projects, with a particular focus on restoration and habitat rehabilitation. He has a particular passion for threatened habitat restoration and species conservation plans. One of his flagship projects is working with the City of Cape Town and the Friends of Rondebosch Common on the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project & the introduction of the beautiful Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata).

The Rondebosch Common Restoration Project and the introduction of Moraea aristata to the Common.

After the business of the AGM, our guest speaker, Alex Lansdowne, Restoration Horticulture Conservationist, presented his talk on the restoration of the enigmatic Moraea aristata to Rondebosch Common - a great way to kick off the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project. Meadowridge Common hopes to put a similar project into action one day in the near future.
Alex Lansdowne, guest speaker for the evening.


The Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata)
Roger Graham, chairman of the Friends of Meadowridge Common, thanking the evening's guest speaker, Alex Lansdowne for his most interesting talk.

 There are many conservation stories of species only just holding on against extinction. Moraea aristata stands out. This critically endangered, enigmatic irid has persisted on the grounds of the SA Astronomical Observatory for decades. Rondebosch Common, a sister conservation area to Meadowridge Common, is the only natural habitat left within its range.
Together with the Friends of Rondebosch Common, Alex Lansdowne managed the introduction of the Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata) to Rondebosch Common which shares a similar veld type (Cape Flats Sand Fynbos) to Meadowridge Common.
The talk focused on the first year's work establishing a new population of Moraea aristata, and the ambitions of the
Rondebosch Common Restoration Project over the next three years when it will be seen if the introduction can be declared a success or not.

Thanks to Zoe Paulson for the link to her blog,
Notes from a Cape Botanist where you can read more about the project and also to Graham Duncan (who supplied the bulbs for the project) for his article on Moraea artistata in PlantZAfrica.

12 February 2018

AGM and talk on Moraea aristata

Photo: Moraea aristata in its habitat at the South African Astronomical Observatory. Photo: Geert Sprangers.
THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE FRIENDS OF MEADOWRIDGE COMMON
will be held in the Meadowridge Library on Monday 26th February 2018 at 7.30 pm
After the brief business part of the evening, ALEX LANSDOWNE, Restoration Horticulture Conservationist, will be giving a talk on the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project and the introduction of Moraea aristata to the Common.
We hope to see you. Refreshments will be served and secure parking provided.
For more information, please contact Roger Graham at 021 7159206.

There are many conservation stories of species only just holding on against extinction. Moraea aristata stands out. This critically endangered, enigmatic irid has persisted on the grounds of the SA Astronomical Observatory for decades. Rondebosch Common, a sister conservation area to Meadowridge Common, is the only natural habitat left within its range.
Together with the Friends of Rondebosch Common, Alex Lansdowne managed the introduction of the Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata) to Rondebosch Common which shares a similar veld type (Cape Flats Sand Fynbos) to Meadowridge Common.

The talk will focus on establishing a new population of Moraea aristata, and the ambitions of the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project.