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How it came to be

How it came to be

The original dam was built in the early days of Clarens. It fed the old waterworks (remains of which can still be seen downstream) and as the demand for water grew in the eighties the wall of the dam was raised to its present level but no provision was made for a concrete spillway.

When the Highlands Water Scheme was developed they needed dedicated water storage for the tunnel boring machine and thus the Townland Dam was built together with its pump station and weir in the Little Caledon River.

After completion of the tunnel, it was decided that Clarens Town would be better served by the Townlands Dam and the current 1 megalitre waterworks was created.

The use of Townlands and the new waterworks meant that the Kloof Dam was no longer needed for the town’s watersupply. The Kloof Dam was thus left and the waterworks below it was removed.

Years went by and because there was no dedicated spillway and water going into the dam then worked its way down the embankment and caused severe erosion to the wall.

In 2018 the CVC decided to do something about this erosion. First thing was to approach the municipality – they were not interested in doing anything – however, they gave us permission to proceed with the repairs. The CVC then approached Mr Schalk Jacobs, a well-respected local Free State dam designer and we started the process of repairing the wall with the result of the spillway we now have which was able to handle the rains of 2021 and 2022. 

Some Facts

  • Kloof dam has a catchment of about 1 square kilometre;
  • It has a capacity of about 45,000 cubic metres of water storage;
  • The size of the dam makes it just smaller than the requirement for large dams which then need to be registered andinspected annually;
  • The depth of the water near the wall is about 4 metre and it then shallows quickly;
  • The dam is a major tourist attraction for fishing, hiking, swimming and bird watching;
  • It also has been stocked with trout/grass carp over the years; and
  • the spillway was designed for a 7-year flood however, the position of the spillway within the low portion of the wall, makes this dam a very stable structure that should last a long time. 
Who wants to live forever?

Who wants to live forever?

If you are an everlasting, then yes!

And when you opt to live in the grasslands of Clarens, you just may succeed.

As long as you follow the example of proteas and group your two types of florets in your single head with floret, set in the middle as inconspicuously as possible and then show of your colourful, dry sandpaper-like bracts for all life to enjoy. Don’t forget to flower between November and March. 

Everlastings belong to the genus Helichrysum (Helios Greek for sun and Chrysos Greek for gold), one of the largest genera in the sunflower family. There are about 15 different helichrysums in the CVC occurring in the streamside bush, on the slopes and in the higher grassveld. They prefer rocky, cool and moist south-facing sandstone slopes in fynbos vegetation.

According to the botanist, Bertil Nordenstam, the adjective -um means remarkable, strikingly unusual, distinguished, excellent, most beautiful etc., and indeed this is one of the most striking species in the genus. The large strawberry-like rounded capitula are really ‘eximia’.

They occupy many different habitats and there are about sixty different species in Qwaqwa, with a number of rare ones on top of the Drakensberg. 

It comes in yellow, white, red…

Helichrysum cooperi is used as a love charm by the Zulus. The dry leaves are mixed into an ointment which is applied all over the body after the bath. As a result the desired lady finds the man irresistable. From a horticultural point of view Helichrysum cooperi is a good fill-in plant with its bright golden yellow flowerheads which may be produced for more than three months.

Helichrysum cooperi is a fast-growing biennial herb up to 1.5 m high. In young plants the leaves are crowded in an almost whorl-like arrangement but as the plants grow older the alternate leaf arrangement becomes apparent. The leaves are simple, oblong, net-veined and have an entire margin. They are light green and sticky with a covering of tiny hairs. The bottom leaves become dry when the plants grow older. The fresh leaves produce an aromatic smell when crushed between the fingers. Plants start to flower from early January until late March and produce many bright golden yellow flowerheads arranged in a large spreading leafy inflorescence. The flowerheads are shallowly cup-shaped and contain about 1000 tiny florets. When mature the flower heads close and become dry. They produce many very fine ‘seeds’ (fruits) about 1 mm long containing a single seed. At their top the ‘seeds’ have a tuft of fine bristles.

Helichrysum cooperi grows in the Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Lesotho. The species is found in grassland in full sun; it loves moist conditions and often grows near or on forest margins.

The genus Helichrysum was named by Philip Miller (1691-1771), a British gardener, who was superintendent of the Chelsea Physick Garden of the Society of Apothecaries from 1722 to 1770. The genus name Helichrysum comes from the Greek words helios, meaning sun, and chrysos, meaning gold. Most species of this genus have golden yellow flowers. According to Elsa Pooley (1998) the specific epithet honours Thomas Cooper, 1815-1913, an English plant collector and cultivator who came to South Africa in 1859.

The flowers of Helichrysum cooperi attract many small insects like bees, flies and beetles which pollinate them when moving from one to the other. Seed dispersal is by water or wind. The leaves may hold the seed (fruit) with their sticky surface thus preventing them from being blown away by the wind.

What Owl

What Owl

In Clarens and its surroundings, there are five different owl species with the Spotted Eagle-Owl being the most common.

The other species are:

Western Barn Owl

African Grass-Owl

Marsh Owl

Cape Eagle-Owl

Spotted Eagle Owl

Height: Male 43cm, Female 47cm Weight: Male 540g, Female 995g 

Identification: A large owl with conspicuous “ear” tufts. Primarily grey and spotted white above, finely barred below and their eyes are yellow.

Voice: Deep two-part hoot, pairs often calling in duet, some bill clacking and hissing when threatened.

Distribution: Throughout South Africa, central Africa, southern Kenya and DRC.

Status: Resident. It is the most common large “eared” owl in the region. 

Habitat: Rocky areas, woodland, forest edge, towns/cities and semi-desert. 

Habits: Solitary or in pairs. Nocturnal, by day will roost in a tree or on a rocky ledge. It hunts from a perch anddrops onto the prey. Also commonly perches on fence posts, telephone poles and often hunts insects infloodlights. 

Food: Eats mostly rodents in urban areas, also invertebrates, birds, reptiles, bats, snails, crabs, millipedes and snakes.

Breeding: Mainly August to October. Clutch: 2-3 eggs. 

Incubation: 30-32 days by female only. 

Nestling: 40 days. The chicks usually spend 10 days on the ground before fledging. Post-nestling dependence is 5 weeks after which they will gradually disperse.

The owls will readily take to artificial nesting boxes.

Scilla natalensis

Scilla natalensis

Merwilla plumbea (Scilla natalensis) is a graceful perennial bulb, and with its tall plumes of blue flowers, the showiest of the South African scillas. It is deciduous, growing during summer and dormant in the winter. It can grow up to 1 m tall, often in large colonies on cliffs and rocky slopes. Widespread in eastern summer rainfall areas. 

The Flower

A rosette of 6 to 9 broad, tapering leaves emerges from the top of the bulb in spring. The leaves are attractive in their own right, with clearly distinct veins which give them a two-tone effect, particularly when back-lit. Their colour is light green with white-grey overtones, they can be entirely green, or they can have purplish colouring on the margins, at the base or at the apex of the leaf, or the underside can be partially or entirely shaded with purple. They can be completely hairless, or one or both sides can be covered in short hairs. The leaves of a well-grown plant can reach a height of 30 to 50 cm with about equal spread.

Traditional medicine

The ash from a burnt plant, and the bulb in powdered form, is rubbed into cuts and scratches, and over sprains and fractures. Decoctions are taken as enemas for female infertility and to enhance male potency and libido. It is also known to be used as a purgative, a laxative and for internal tumours, and is used in conjunction with other ingredients in infusions taken during pregnancy to facilitate delivery and in treatments for chest pain and kidney troubles. It is also an ingredient in a medicinal preparation for cattle suffering from lung sickness. It has magical properties for the Tswana who rub the powdered bulb into the back, joints and other body parts to increase their strength and resistance to witchcraft. The plant appears to have significant analgesic and antimicrobial activity, and phytochemical studies have found that it contains compounds known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic properties which would support its use for the treatment of strains, sprains and cancers.

Toxicity

Merwilla plumbea has shown itself to be selectively toxic to mammals. It is said to be poisonous to stock, particularly when the young leaves appear in spring. Experiments on sheep, using fresh bulb as a drench, proved fatal to the sheep, yet it has been proven an ineffective rat poison. It is apparently toxic to man when raw, even the sap is reported to burn the skin, and for any preparations taken internally the plant must first be heated. This plant should be treated with extreme caution, as taking any part of it internally is potentially fatal. 

What is in a name?

Merwilla plumbea is the name given to a combination of several speciesnamely S. kraussii, S. natalensis and S. plumbea. This description pertains primarily to the form previously known as Scilla natalensis. This genus has been named after F van der Merwe, a botanist who worked on this family. The species name refers to the lead blue colour of the flowers. 

The Afrikaans name blouberglelie, which means blue mountain lily, is also applied to other South African species of Scilla and is a name that has been in use for hundreds of years. It earned the name blouslangkop, which means blue snake’s head, presumably because the emerging flower stalk resembles a snake, and the tips of the flower stalks are often coloured bluish-purple. The Zulu name inguduza means “searching the body for the cause of the ailment”, indicating its use in KwaZulu-Natal as a diagnostic tool.

Source: SANBI

Photos: Joan Keyter

 

Klipdorpie Clarens titel dié storie in Maroela Media

Klipdorpie Clarens titel dié storie in Maroela Media

Oermooi en outentiek noem die skrywer van die aanlyn-nuuskanaal, Maroelamedia, ons Clarens. 

Om aan te haal uit die inleidingsparagraaf:

“Na die lang, reguit rit deur die uitgerekte Vrystaatse vlaktes, veskyn die berge van die Oos-Vrystaat soos dramatiese klipkastele op die horison; toringspitse, oorhangkranse, grotte. Die sandsteen is goudbruin en gloeiend in die laatmiddagson. “Die juweel van die Vrystaat” word Clarens genoem – ’n dorpie gebou uit die pragtige klip van die omgewing.”

Lees gerus verder https://maroelamedia.co.za/leefstyl/reis/klipdorpie-clarens-oermooi-en-outentiek/

How Yellow!

How Yellow!

This delightful bulb (actually a corm), known as Yellow Tritonia, with its very striking yellow flowers belongs to the Iris family and is fairly common in the Nature Reserve. It is normally solitary and is currently in flower on the Scilla walk.

It is also called, Bergkatjietee, and Khahlaenyenyane which is Sotho for the small Khahla or Gladiolus.

The Basotho use parts of it to treat stomach complaints and heal infections in the navel of a newborn child.

Photos: Joan Keyter