14 – 16 September 2018
“Standing in this carpet of flowers in 1915, Mr. Frederick Duckitt of Waylands and Mrs. (Ds.) Suzanne Malan of ‘Die Pastorie’ Darling, decided that this wonderful heritage of wild flowers must be shared with others. The outcome was the founding of the Darling Wild Flower Society, as we know it today – of which the first flower show was held in 1917.”
The Darling Wildflower Society has now been around for more than a century and the Darling Wildflower Show takes place annually over the third weekend in September and celebrates an integral part of the Cape Fynbos Kingdom comprising of Renosterveld, Rietveld, Sandveld, and Strandveld where more than 1200 different species of flowers can be found.
Darling’s veld is unique in that it consists of an intermingling of various veld types. It is not unusual to find a single patch which can be classified as Sandveld, Strandveld, Renosterveld and Rietveld. This mix-up has led to the veld in Darling producing flowers, especially Geophytes (bulbous plants), which are spectacular in their diversity, size and colour. This situation is found nowhere else in the world.
The Cape Floral Kingdom, with more than 12 000 species, is also the richest in species diversity. It is astounding that Darling contains more than 10% of the species count of the Cape Floral Kingdom in less than 1% of the area. If there was ever a “Golden Mile” of the plant kingdom anywhere in the world, it must surely exist in Darling! If there was ever a “Most Threatened” area in the world, likewise. Some threatened plant species from the Darling-Hopefield area include Romulea exima (Darling froetang); Gheissorhiza darlingensis (geel kelkiewyn); Gheissorhiza eurystigma (kelkiewyn); Ixia curta (bruinoog kalossie); Ixia framesii (rooi kalossie); Sparaxis parviflora (klein kappie); Spiloxene canaliculata (geel poublom); Gladiolus meliusculus (pienk kalkoentjie); Babiana rubrocyanea (kelkiewyn bobbejaantjie) and Nemesia strumosa (bont leeubekkieweeskindertjies).
Since the early shows, the wildflower show has grown from a hall with floral arrangements to include natural displays. which reflect the geographical diversity of the veld surrounding Darling. All flowers and plants on show grow wild in the Darling district and are picked under strict supervision of the Darling Wildflower Society. The displays include the botanical and common names of all flowers exhibited as well as interesting information on conservation. The detail can vary substantially, being that the Darling Flora is all about the extravagant diversity and fragrance.