The Darling Wildflower Society has held a show virtually every year since that first show in 1917. The ideals expressed by the founders still hold true today. They wanted to display Darling’s God-given wealth for the world to see. At the same time they promoted the conservation of flowers amongst the farmers of the district, who have since maintained the botanical diversity of the region over several generations. The West Coast flower region, an integral part of the Cape Fynbos Kingdom, boasts more than 1200 species of flowering plants. About 80 of these are endemic to the West Coast and known nowhere else. The rich flora of the West Coast occurs on mainly three different soil types, culminating in three distinctive vegetation types, namely, Strandveld, Renosterveld and Sandveld. Darling lies within the Cape West Coast Biosphere reserve in the centre of the threatened lowland sandplain and renosterveld fynbos. 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. Rapidly expanding development along the West Coast will swallow large tracts of the internationally unique flora.
Darling is known as the flower of the West Coast, and the abundance of flora and natural flowers is undoubtedly its biggest asset
Some threatened plant species from the Darling-Hopefield area: 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); Nemesia strumosa (bont leeubekkieweeskindertjies) The Darling Wildflower Show takes place annually over the third weekend in September at the Darling Club. 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. While the big picture displays such as the fields of daisies, are magnificent, it is the small detail that will fascinate, as will the wondrous scent of the veld.
Please help us to preserve this beautiful area to pass on to our future generations!