Happy Kids, Mountain Flowers

I have just spent the most joyful three days in Hlatikulu in the Lower Drakensberg with 24 kids.  Most of them I have known for many years through the MMAEP and a few are real favourites whom I have watched grow up.  This picture was taken in 2006 when I spent a day creating an indigenous garden at their school – they now say that is the day they started their Eco-Committee.  They are literally double in size now (although the garden isn’t!).

2 - Garden Club Nott Rd.RES

I secured some funding, through a very dear friend, to take them on a fieldtrip –  as a reward for their commitment to environmental issues and as inspiration to ensure they stay keen.

Mbuso with Boston CROP.

We spent happy hours looking at flowers, hanging out with a tame crane, hiking, swimming, dancing and learning together.  They got excited about everything we saw and photographed the plants, insects and animal tracks as we wandered about.

Photographing Samkelisiwe and Pelargonium at Entabeni Hlatikulu CROP

Fortunately for me, the flowers were really interesting, so I had a real treat.  A selection of flowers that I photographed follows:  Ranunculus with a shiny beetle and a bee.

Ranunculus with beetle and bee

Something I can’t identify – think it is some sort of Ledebouria – it was really tiny.

creamy flowers, stripy leaves

and beside a mountain stream that we all frolicked in, I found this  purple flower. I think it is a Gladiolus. Possibly Gladiolus microcarpus.

purple flower possibly gladiolus crop.

Near the forest – delicate little Geranium (likely wakkerstroomium).

geranium in hlatikulu RES.

We had a great time searching for small creatures, talking about vegetarianism, climate change, detrivores, water, football, teenage pregnancies, fungi, emails, religion and a myriad other topics which individuals asked questions about.

Bulelani, Sihle and Nomfundo with a songololo  RES

It was pretty tiring and the noise was ovewhelming when we were stuck in the dining hall during a thunderstorm, but I had a ball.

break in the shade. by Nkululeko x .RES

The enthusiasm the kids showed for photographing flowers was a real thrill for me.  Getting down on their knees and right up close.

Nkulu getting up close RES.

This is the subject of the photographer above – Diascia barberaeDiascia barberae crop. JPG

Nkulu is hoping to do media studies when he leaves school and is a keen amateur filmaker.   He took what I thought was the very best photo of our entire trip – below.  I’m using it in my press releases, so he will be delighted to have his name in the newspaper!

Samkelisiwe admires Pelargonium luridium by Nkululeko Mdladla RES.

This was my version (below) – I’m never that keen on people in my pictures, but will admit that Samkelisiwe (above) adds a very special element to Nkulu’s pic.

Pelargonium luridium res.

Hlatikulu is a huge vlei, so I discovered some wonderful wetland plants I’d never come across before. These orchids – Red Torches – literally glowed.

disa - red torch in wetland.RES

There were masses of these small white Knipophia albescens – really lovely.

Kniphofia albescens and bee.RES CROP. JPG

On the rocky outcrops up Mount Lebanon there were carpets of mauve Aster perfoliatus and Wild Garlic which filled the air with fragrance.

ENonthando ntabeni Hlatikulu RES

What a fabulous opportunity to spend time sharing the magic of our biodiversity. How lucky I am to have these wonderful young people in my life.

Nkulu photographing Acalypha RES

“I’m a person who that believe that everything is possible.  I really appreciate to have people like you Nikki and I promise I won’t let you down. Thank you for for everything you did for me and the things you say to me really motivate me and make me happy. It is good to have people that care about me. I am sure I can be a photographer or film maker as I am still alive and can keep going.”  Nkulu Mdladla

read an account of the trip at:


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Bridget Ringdahl says:

    So cool to see kids like Vusi growing up and becoming ambassadors for the environment. What a special excursion… and good on you for finding opportunities for these keen young beans!


  2. Tshego Leeuw says:

    Hey, so is Boston a permanent club member?


  3. Meriel mitchell says:

    A wonderful time you had with these children and the outdoors … You brought back a flood of memories from my BirdLife outings.


    1. Hello Meriel – and to think it all began with our little workshop at King’s! Who would have thought. Thank YOU so much for all the inspiration. Thinking about it – this is exactly what my blog is about (when I try to explain it to people) – I am reaping the Abundance of the seeds Planted all those years ago. How fabulous! Let’s all keep planting.


  4. des says:

    Nkulu, what a lovely pic! yes I do what you do Nikki, keep the people out of it, but this shows that maybe i should try another approach/angle! Thank you.


  5. Pam Haynes says:

    What a worthwhile trip – thanks for making it happen Nikki ! Really experiences like this show one what is needed. I loved reading about this and seeing such super pics. Keep motivated!


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