watching the last light s

Every few years a tropical cyclone – sometimes downgraded to a tropical storm – affects our weather for a few days, bringing incessant but unstormy warm rain. We’ve just had one, which brought a total of 254mm over 3 days.

Makoudam overflow

Going out on Thursday  – top photo – as the sun broke through just before sundown (the west being very much drier than we are), we could hear the stream in stereo, the various cascades thundering away. Here is the overflow of the Makou Dam, the two pipes carrying ten times the volume they normally do.

makoudam after the rains

This is the emergency overflow of the Makou Dam, constructed after the 2000 cyclone somehow didn’t manage to destroy every dam in our valley, although each one of them overflowed over the main wall, causing some damage  to the foundations of the walls as the water gathered momentum. This overflow only came into use, to the best of my knowledge, in January 2011 when we measured over 200mm overnight. (Obviously overflowing rain-meters made the figure a bit of a guess. But if I compare the level of the river in flood after my carefully monitored 90mm + 159mm over 2 days, then that figure makes sense. Or it might even have been more – some people claimed over 300mm fell that night. I slept through it and found a full gauge!) Be it as it may: the emergency overflow again came into use this week as the level of the dam rose by a good 20cm.

Freddie's Dam overflow

This week’s storm dropped about 240mm during its most intense 36 hours. (That is 9.5 inches)  In 2000, following on what was already obviously going to be a 70-year record rainfall, we measured 625mm (25 in.) in 36 hours. I remember saying to my father as we watched the rain falling in sheets and the water lapping the top of the dam wall: “I always feared loosing the farm to fire. I never expected it would be water.” Luckily my fears were unfounded…

Somewhere in the above photo is the spot where ‘Cascade Rose’ germinated and from where I removed it a few weeks before last year’s heavy rains – read more about it here.

Blue hydrangeascut through the poplars at the end of the Beech Borders axis

Photos are stolen during a week like the past one – and the perfect  shot I’d love to take of the blue hydrangeas in the cutting through the poplars that mark the furthest part of the Beech Borders axis, is yet to be taken. But I will share nevertheless.

Blue hydrangeas at the end of the Beech Borders axis

Their blue is as glorious as the agapanthus I wrote off in my previous post – work and the weather has precluded a return to that stand, but below are my own examples along Alfred’s Arches, photographed on Saturday in lovely full sun.

Agapanthus inapertus at Alfred's Arches

And today – Sunday – I discovered two growing wild in – wait for it – a boggy area. Which I guess goes to answer the question raised by my previous post: yes, this agapanthus does like to have wettish feet! Here they are against a backdrop of Swamp Cypresses, photographed with my cell phone which as usual appears to have had a well-pawed lens Sad smile

Agapanthus near swamp cypresses

The hydrangeas benefitted from the sun on Saturday afternoon’s walk – here are two more shots, taken in The Avenue in the Arboretum:

Hydrangeas in the Avenue

Avenue hydrangea close-up

The water again featured heavily on that walk, and as I was about to take this shot, Abigail came dashing across. I rather like her hasty exit stage left…

Abigail crossing the stream

Rather lovely I think. But the last two shots for today I took up the hill at my neighbour’s house- way beyond the highest point you can see on the first photo, but the gum tree plantation belongs to her. Her meadow is rich with flowers at present.

Biebuyck's meadow

And on the other side of the house she has a stupendous view across to the Iron Crown, the highest point in Limpopo. A wonderful place for sundowners… Slightly to the right of the peak and just to the right of the tree jutting out in the middle horizon, you can see our lovely village of Haenertsburg nestling in its pristine grasslands. But the Haenertsburg Grasslands deserve a post of their own!

Biebuyck's view



  1. We don’t get rain in that quantity. My first thought was uh oh, your dams. Looks like they must be pretty well made.

  2. Pingback: JAPANESE MAPLES & THE BEECH BORDERS « Sequoia Gardens Blog

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