gathered to plant 1000 seedlings or ‘plugs’ in the seep on the west side of the Vlei. The eastern
shore of the Princess Vlei is often said to resemble a young woman’s profile, although to me the
shape of the viei more closely resembles a pregnant emu. The long-term vision of the Princess Vlei
Forum is to restore the rich biodiversity of the two unique plant kingdoms that once thrived there
around the whole of the ‘emu’. The vision is also to engage willing hands from the surrounding
communities to get involved with this work.
The area is also benefitting from the removal of alien plants by volunteers from the Princess Vlei Forum and Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society last year. This enabled indigenous vegetation in the area to re-emerge, and flourish. One of the recovered species that was spotted there is Coriander Storksbill (Pelargonium myrrhifolium var. coriandrifolium).
The group got to work, and, with focus and care, planted out the 1000 newly rooting seedlings. The group included Botanical Society members from Noordhoek and Strandfontein; student conservationists from Khayelitsha; Mothers, fathers, daughters, and friends; stalwarts and new faces, each making their contribution. Amongst our regulars were three high school students, volunteering to fill their ‘community service hours’. These girls have volunteered with us over the last few years, and we hope the experience is giving them a lasting sense of connection to the place.
Mary Jansen, one of the volunteers and organisers of the local Khoe group is keen for us to reach a stage in the restoration work when we will again see the diversity of plants present that she remembers from her childhood. Those were the days when plants with medicinal properties were more plentiful and could be collected and used for healing common ailments in the home. The knowledge of it all is still carried in her generation.
Lucille Luckhoff, together with Cllr Kevin Southgate had a quiz for people to answer. What were we all celebrating and remembering on Women’s Day? How many women marched and to where? Why did they march? Correct answers were rewarded with a warm red shweshwe cloth heart to pin on the sleeve.
The weather was kind. Our hearts felt good and there was a sense that those long since passed, ancestors of Princess Vlei, were smiling on our efforts. We were united in our quiet shared hope that the mornings’ activity would help the planet, in its own tiny but powerful way.