A sweep of moist grassland tucked against a chattering stream, screened by riverine bush. At the forest edge huge coral-tree leaves lie crumpled, an artistic litter of brown paper. Matumi, Waterberry and fig are laced with thorny-rope and hung with glowing Pride-of-de Kaap flowers.

It’s a late sunrise spot, with a forested mountain view to the north. On either side are close grassy hills; to the west, serene craggy knolls with a scatter of Kiaat trees set amongst a palette of rocks and little krantzes. If you’ve never painted a landscape, this site will provide inspiration.

From left: A north-western view towards the Hyslop’s Creek cliffs; The north-eastern view from the building footprint of the site.

The site is at the interface between montane grassland and bushveld savannah. It lies in a grassy valley, tucked away between a large Acacia karroo bush-clump and a forested stream. A tiny wetland growing a carpet of tell-tale silver spike grass (Imperata cylindrica) provides the immediate foreground against a background of large fig trees. The building footprint is located within, or just in front of, the yellow scented Sweet Thorns. The footprint has plenty of space and there’s scope for building off the ground among the screening trees so as to maximise the view. The trees screen it from behind, while in front the slope tilts gently northwards towards the stream. The outlook is just west of north.

The view down the valley is framed by grassy hills, and between them, to the high forested slopes of the Wonderscheur ridge. If you walk back through the Acacia clump a close-up panorama of the steep Saddleback Range towers over you. Being on the valley floor there is a tendency towards long grass and vigorous shrub growth. Here species such as Lippia javanica (the lemon bush) thrive. The savannah / grassland ecotone provides favoured grazing for zebra, wildebeest and waterbuck and with their attentions come the gamebirds like francolin and guinea fowl.

Current access is from the south, providing a hidden approach to the building site, although a shorter northern access is possible. Once established the site should also be hidden from the visitor until the last few metres.

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