Blooming in the land of Sand and Freedom

Text Lee Tindall

Even those of us who inhabit and love the land of sand and freedom are in need of water sometimes. We occasionally need to feel it, see it and remind ourselves of it.

On Thursday we saw a notification that the Sandhof lilies were going to be flowering over the weekend! Now, let’s be clear: we have been there before and we have seen it, but it was years ago, when the babies were still small, time was at a premium and our patience was perhaps limited. So when I mentioned this possible excursion to the kids, there were shrieks of delight.

I viewed the Facebook updates, and when I saw that places in and around Maltahöhe were advertising accommodation specials, I knew it was time to get serious about the planning.

The incredible thing about the lilies at Farm Sandhof, Crinum paludosum, is that they only flower when the pan has had a significant amount of rain, causing water to stand and allowing for the plants to thrive. This usually happens once a year if the rainfall and conditions allow.

If you have been following our stories, you will know that we are up for an adventure, as long as we have snacks, some sense of direction and a vague plan. (Perhaps not as spontaneous as some other folks we know – actually, we are generally well prepared!)

We left our home early on Saturday, with enough snacks and high levels of enthusiasm. After a short drive (by our standards) we arrived at Farm Sandhof. We were very early – in fact, we were among the first people there – which allowed us to enjoy the whole experience even more. Living remotely means we have a low crowd tolerance, so this was perfect for us.

A riot of colours greeted us. The pure white of wispy clouds stretched into the depths of a crisp blue sky, starkly contrasted by the deep pecan colour of the pan. The flowers were a mixture of white and pink with a thousand shades in between. One of my favourites is a deep cerise pink with an almost opaque sheen to it. It is truly a marvel. A herd of cattle roamed about this white and pink wonderland, ambling through the flowers like they owned the place – which perhaps they do. 

Murray and the kids ventured into the thickest mud, where toes squelched and feet took on the weight of layers of mud. While enthusiastically practising photography and seeking out tiny miracles to capture on the lens, they discovered a red-spotted lily weevil. This weevil is actually rather big, unlike the tiny ones we find in our flour or maize meal. It is surprisingly beautiful with – the clue is in the name – its red spots.

We meandered around the pan, in search of standing water and reflections to photograph. Our search yielded a field mouse hiding under the leaves, a multitude of water critters and a variety of other small plants.

As the sun moved higher and higher in the sky, the heat and humidity rose, reminding us of our need for an after-excursion treat – this time a well-deserved ice cream from The Lily Deli in Maltahöhe.

Heading home, we reminisced about the flowers, the weevil and the wonderful photo opportunities. An absolutely heavenly day with mud between our toes instead of sand. 


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