The aptly named Blomkerk (Flower Church) in Clanwilliam is the only place in the world where, during the Clanwilliam Wildflower Show, you can see almost 400 species of wildflowers from the region showcased in a living flower display for 10 days of the year.
This display takes three weeks to build with all the plotting, planning and picking done by volunteers from community. Pallets are laid down to form the shape of the display (which changes every year) and then four truckloads of sand are poured over the structure, which is held together with wire mesh. Rocks are brought in from the area to hold the sand in place and once that is complete, it’s time to arrange the hundreds of plant species which are collected from far and wide.
The aloes, which are hardier, go in first, followed by the proteas and succulents. A few days before the show opens a group of old dears sit at a trestle table and discuss the affairs of the town and other important matters while planting daisies and more delicate blossoms into tins, which are then cleverly concealed under the sand of the display. The final product is a sight to behold and if you didn’t know any better, you’d almost believe that those flowers grew there naturally. Except the whole thing gets taken apart after the festival and if you arrive a few days too late, you’d find the Blomkerk filled with seating for sermons, with not a petal nor grain of sand in sight. So make sure you get there before it closes on Sunday, 8th September 2013.
About the Clanwilliam Wildflower Show
The Clanwilliam Wildflower Show is now in its 41st year and this year the highlight is the opportunity to “peek under the petals” and see the flowers through the eyes of an insect. Look out for this unique display on the right-hand side as you enter the church – you can’t miss the beautifully designed mosaic of living flowers against the wall. With the use of ultraviolet lighting you will be able to see the unique markings, usually invisible to us, that flowers use to lure insects and other creatures. The entrance fee for the show is R30 for adults, R25 for pensioners and R5 for children (this fee has remained unchanged for four years), with the proceeds going to the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Association. The show runs from 29 August 2013 until 8 September 2013, from 09h00 to 18h00 daily.
The show ends on Sunday, 8th September 2013 and the weather is looking promising for its final week. Which means you can also enjoy the flowers along the N7 en-route to Clanwilliam and while you are in the town, a visit to the Ramskop Garden shouldn’t be missed. For only R20 entrance fee, it’s a wonderful spot to view the spring flowers against the backdrop of the Clanwilliam Dam.
There are also plenty of other things to do in this historical town at the foot of the Cederberg Mountain range, including tea tasting and tea gardens (Clanwilliam is the Rooibos capital of the world), visiting these Cederberg hikes you probably didn’t know about, market stalls (only during the show) rock art and more. It’s also a great place for some full-bloom biking if you’re the more active type.
About the Blomkerk in Clanwilliam
The Blomkerk that houses this magnificent display was originally known as the Dutch Reformed Church and was built in 1864. As the town grew, the church got too small to accommodate everyone, so a bigger church was built and eventually services were discontinued in the Dutch Reformed Church, leaving it standing empty. In 1965 the church was donated to the Clanwilliam Nature Conservation Society, was refurbished by the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Association in 1972 and then declared a National Monument in 1978. Today this building belongs to the Clanwilliam Heritage Trust and for 10 days, once a year, it houses a flower display that is visited by thousands of people from all over the world.