Pocket guide to wild flowers

2008-11-26 00:00

YOU go for a walk in the midlands or the ’Berg, and see an attractive flower that you can’t put a name to. But by the time you get home to your reference books, it is hard to remember exactly what it looked like — the exact colour, how it was set on the stem, how the shading on the petals went, and so on.

But a new book, Wild Flowers of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands & Drakensberg by Lal Greene, will solve the problem. It is designed to fit neatly into a shirt or jeans pocket, small and light, and easy to carry with you. It contains 570 photographs of flowers, with their scientific names, common names if they have them, and a reference number, which refers to Elsa Pooley’s comprehensive Wild Flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region, Mountain Flowers and Trees of Natal. The photographs are colour coded for easy reference — if you have found a blue flower, you go straight to the blue section and so on. And when you get home, you can refer to the more detailed information in the bigger books.

Greene, who is a retired farmer from the Nottingham Road area, has always had an interest in the flowers of the region and in taking photographs, and after retiring he and his wife Pauline went on a photography course. Many of his photographs appeared in Pooley’s books, and she has endorsed the pocket guide.

When he had finished work on the photographs for Pooley, Greene thought about giving then to the Pietermaritzburg Herbarium, but one of his children asked him to make an album of photographs of the flowers in the area first. Then someone else suggested a book, and the idea grew from there.

Pauline Greene undertook to find sponsors for the project — Gowrie Farm, where the couple now live, is the name sponsor — and she has also done the marketing, seeing that the book is available in local bookshops in Nottingham Road, Howick, Underberg, Hilton and at Exclusive Books and Cascades Bookshop in Pietermaritzburg — and at a very reasonable price. It is seldom that any book will cost under R100 these days, but this one does. Already the response has been very enthusiastic.

And, as the final line of the book says, now you can “take your book to the flower, not the flower to the book”.

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