BotSoc branch puts paradise on a wall
MAR 31, 2021 | TEXT AND PHOTOS BY THE Botanical Society KZN Coastal Branch.
The bold and beautiful strelitzia is now celebrated in a glorious mural at the Durban Botanic Gardens, thanks to BotSoc’s KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Branch!
Don’t miss it next time you enjoy a visit to Africa’s oldest surviving botanic gardens.
Above: Artist Giffy Duminy brought the strelitzia mural to life, step by step, using a combination of spray paint and paint, turning the wall into a masterpiece. Photos: Botanical Society KZN Coastal Branch.
The strelitzia is celebrated as the provincial flower of KwaZulu-Natal.
It also has a proud place of honour on the province’s coat of arms.
It is often called the bird of paradise or crane flower because its brightly coloured bloom recalls the shape of the bird’s head and beak. The plant with its powerful punch of orange petals is known botanically as Strelitzia reginae.
Now it also gives a strong wow factor to the stunning mural designed and painted by renowned Durban-based street artist and nature enthusiast Giffy Duminy. BotSoc’s KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Branch sponsored the mural.
Despite choosing to start at the drier end of Durban’s summer, rain still stopped painting sometimes, says Giffy. Watch him at work in the video above.
Giffy depicted four indigenous strelitzia in his colourful mural. It brightens a previously utilitarian brick wall, one of Giffy’s favourite surfaces for painting outdoor murals.
The mural creates a bright hug of background colour. This offsets the special strelitzia garden that has been founded within the Durban Botanic Gardens in a multi-platform initiative led by curator Martin Clement and supported by the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust.
Above: The Mandela’s Gold strelitzia (Strelitzia reginae) shows its magnificence in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Photo: LoveGreen Communications.
This strelitzia collection also features the treelike KZN coastal wild banana (Strelitzia nicolai) which flourishes in the province. Other shrublike strelitzias include the Strelitzia juncea, which has leaves like long reeds and tends to be found in the Eastern Province, and the two commemorative golden varieties created by the horticulture team at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Mandela’s Gold and Kirstenbosch Gold.
Among other strelitzias that the Durban Botanic Gardens team hopes to add are the treelike Strelitzia alba, a “cousin” of the KZN coastal wild banana that comes from the southern Cape, and Strelitzia caudata from mountainous areas in the Drakensberg and Swaziland through to Zimbabwe.
Strelitzias of the world
In the areas around the strelitzia garden, you can see other family members such as the traveller’s palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) from Madagascar and, even more distantly related, the familiar canna lily.
The strelitzia garden is part of a Durban Botanic Gardens Trust project to help the gardens celebrate its provincial flower. This has also included producing a fascinating and colourful coffee-table book, Strelitzias of the world.
“We are delighted to have been able to contribute,” says branch chair Suvarna Parbhoo Mohan. “Giffy’s work has really proved to be a thrilling finishing touch to the strelitzia garden.”
For more comment from Durban Botanic Gardens and Giffy, go here.
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