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Published: February 21st 2015
What a perfect day for a garden visit!
Clear blue skies and warm temperatures as we head out early to visit the famous Kirstenbosch Gardens the national botanical garden of South Africa. We wanted to get in ahead of the big groups later in the day. And there is the much anticipated visit to the Townships in the afternoon.
Kirstenbosch was est. in 1913 after it was left to the nation in 1902 on the death of Cecil John Rhodes - he wanted to protect the slopes of Table Mountain from urban development. Today it is one of the great botanical gardens of the world, it's first curator having trained at Kew Gardens
Alison had booked a shuttle (golf) cart buggy with a guide to take us on a one hour tour, and that's the best decision we could have made. We saw almost everything, far more than we could have done on foot on our own. At first I found the guides speeh difficult to understand but I finally got to the pitch of his voice and heard most of his description as we rolled around like Ol Man River.
Situated at the foot of Table
Mountain the cultivated garden covers 36ha part of a much larger estate of 528ha, which includes a nature reserve. This is a research and environmental education centre, a centre for biodiversity and herbarium etc. Much more than just a garden.
The gardens per se are a collection of southern African species Including rare and endangered species, arranged in theme gardens.... Fynbos, Proteas, Fragrance garden, Ericas, Pelargoniums, Useful plants, a rockery etc. There are walking trails taking you through natural forests and along two beautiful and shady walks ... Camphor and Ficus Ave.
The Cycads amphitheater features an ancient plant group dating back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. There is on display a fossilized tree which is as hard as stone. And the Garden of WEEDS which are SAfrican plants which have become weeds in other parts of the world with the lesson being how plants become weeds and how to stop the spread of weeds!
My lasting memories of the Gardens are the scenic beauty of its location with truly spectacular views down to the ocean, the beautiful flowering plants and Two enormously large baby owls in the light of day perched on branches of a
trees planted by Cecil John Rhodes who left the gardens to research on his death 1902
tree! Our guide also told us that recently a Lynx had been spotted on the footpaths..... And a baboon had run across the area. Not today.
There are the usual restaurants and gift/souvenir/book shops, we had some very nice smoked salmon as a side dish but substantial enough to last a while.
intriguingly the Gardens have a Concert Lawn of all things, in its midst, where open air live performances attract several thousands of people. Barriers have to be erected to protect the plants and keep people out of the sensitive areas. On the previous Sunday as we drove past the area we saw the surrounding streets chock a block full with thousands of motor cars. Some people had a long walk to get to the venue!
I wonder why the need to use such a venue for this purpose. One of the parks rules says "No Radio, Music, Noise, Games" which is in conflict with being a concert venue, surely. I wonder what measures they need to put in place to protect the plants from concert goers. And at what cost!
But none of that distracted from the beauty and enjoyment of this visit, seeing
Nelson Mandela tributes everywhere
Pres. Mandela planted these trees at the gardens
the hundreds of types of Proteas, the fynbos, and the beautiful shadows cast on camphor drive.
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