The Clanwilliam Wildflower Society, along with the Land Art Project, has adapted the annual Wild Flower Festival with new installations and a focus on protecting biodiversity this Spring.

Clanwilliam’s annual Wild Flower Festival is a highlight for those ready to explore this exceptional part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, where each spring season an abundance of natural flowers blossom to highlight the beauty of the Cape’s natural landscape.

Clanwilliam is blessed with an exceptional variety of wildflowers thanks to the varying difference in topography between the Cederberg, Wetland, Karoo and Sandveld; making it the perfect place for a flower festival in the Cederberg district.

It’s here we met Sue Bergh of the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Society to learn about how they curated the festival this year to meet the challenges of COVID-19.

“Clanwilliam has a topography that is very different – between the mountains, the valleys, sandy and clay soils, we have a huge variety of lowers in comparison to other areas”, Sue explains. “When COVID hit, we had to make a difficult decision to go ahead with the flower show; we weren’t sure of guests arriving, we weren’t sure we’d be healthy enough, we weren’t quite sure what would happen – so we decided to do some land art.

The land art project was born out of a need to adapt to our changing world by converting challenges into beautiful displays, where innovative techniques were used to create intriguing displays that add novelty to the Wild Flower Festival’s long heritage.

“The techniques were born from what we were doing before lockdown, which was clearing overgrowth from natural waterways, and then needing to do something with the materials… so we ended up creating weaving techniques”, explains Alexis Aronson, a member of the Land Art project.  “I would hope that people interact them; that people come to walk among them, sit inside them, and touch them”.

Over the last two decades, researchers have seen a sharp increase in the number of threatened species – making Clanwilliam’s unique biodiversity all the more important. For the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Society, preservation of the beauty of the area is at the core of their philosophy.

“The Wild Flower Society is a group of people that clearly love nature and flowers – but we have a purpose in trying to conserve what we have for the next generation, and more than anything we want to teach our community how valuable the flowers are to them, and that they must also leave it to their generation”, says Sue.

For Sue, Alexis, and the Wild Flower Society, the opportunity to reinvent the Wild Flower Festival is also a chance to demonstrate not only the beauty of Clanwilliam’s vast open spaces but further the importance of maintaining and protecting biodiversity; a privilege they embrace.

“The energy the flowers restore in our community is so valuable. After gruelling hot temperatures and dangerously strong sunlight depleting our emotional reserves like the parched soil, we are rejuvenated by this natural miracle, forgetting all hardships”, says Sue. “They are emotionally uplifting and such a relief. Recharging. The delicious evening scent of flowers wafting, luring, reminding us of how blessed we are.”