The Biodiversity garden is a precious, new jewel in the botanical crown of the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is the smallest and hottest of biodiversity hotspots worldwide.
The Green Point Urban Park in Cape Town is oh-so-accessible, sandwiched between Signal Hill, the oldest lighthouse in South Africa, and the iconic football stadium of World Cup 2010 fame.
Set within this, the Biodiversity Garden celebrates all that is unique about the Cape and its flora, where wanderers are shown the interconnectedness of life and encouraged to 'Make a Difference'.
What’s not to love about this appeal? Perfect for a sunset amble or a morning wake up wander. Big enough to seriously stride around the large circular lawn area, pound the running paths, work out at the trim park or just meander along the wetland walk, among the more 300 local fynbos plant species.
Why the Biodiversity Garden works for me?
The garden is truly laid out ‘for all’ – ages, activities, levels of botanical interest as much as physical mobility …
The signs are crafted to casually inform, the storyboards are easy reads, the plants labels let everyone ‘get the picture’- effortlessly …
So much thought has gone into how the biodiversity message gets across – they ‘show’ things, and ‘tell’ stories, rather than facts …
Botanic biomes and endemic rarities are seamlessly woven into ‘demonstration gardens’, alongside responsible gardening practices …
Threats, like agriculture and alien invasive plants, are dealt with in bite size pieces, and drill down consequences …
Kirstenbosch Gardens, in Cape Town, lies at the foot of Table Mountain. Guinea fowl roam free, plants and trees are well labeled and there is a mix of ponds, streams, lawns and walkways. These walkways are paved so the walking is easy and there are free daily walking tours at 10am as well as two hikes up Table Mountain for the more serious walker.
In summer open air concerts take place on Sunday evenings (Nov – April). These are family friendly events with people getting there early with a picnic basket and blanket and making themselves comfortable on the grass. Few experiences can match sipping on good South African wine, listening to South African music and having Table Mountain as the backdrop for all of this.
Wynberg NU (2), Cape Town 7800, South Africa
+27 21 799 8783
Google map: bit.ly/jYHMd4
Covering 36 hectares, Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens is situated in Cape Town, South Africa at the foot of the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
A well known exhibitor at Chelsea Flower show, displaying the floral diversity found in southern Africa, this natural paradise offers a comprehensive taste of the Cape's flora and fauna.
Enjoyed by locals walking their dogs and tourists alike, often seen picnicking on the manicured lawns which lead to ponds frequented by bird life, an afternoon can be had in the warmth of the sunshine and peaceful sound of Cape reeds moving in the breeze, perhaps only marginally dogged by inquisitive and noisy guineafowl.
Permanent Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe are positioned around the grounds while organised events including changing art exhibitions showcasing contemporary, local talent and botanical drawings can be viewed and purchased. During the year bonzai and orchid workshops are held as well as summer concerts in the warm evenings under starry, African skies.
Craft markets provide outlets for local communities to showcase their work while the deli and restaurant offer local specialities and champagne breakfasts. The ever popular tearoom refreshes hikers with cups of rooibos tea and tasty cakes.
Ancient cycads are housed in their own protective amphitheatre while rockeries and streams provide interest for youngsters. The shady camphor avenue offers some respite from the heat of the day and if you are lucky, the sighting of owls, almost hidden in the upper branches. This is near the conservatory, home to southern African succulents and cacti, the majestic baobab, the smaller kokerboom and rock plants.
Paths for children, the blind (sensory trail) and wheelchair users are all catered for while longer trails radiate into uncultivated areas and the surrounding Table Mountain National Park. These surrounding routes, enjoyed by dedicated walkers follow in the footsteps of historical figures such as General Smuts, leading to native silver trees which shimmer in the sunlight and the location of van Riebeeck's hedge on the slopes of the mountain - the Dutch national credited with establishing a refreshment station for seafarers at the tip of Africa in the1650s. Here the occasional mountain tortoise can be spotted ambling along on the hot, dusty sand.
Energetic visitors can walk past beds of ericas and proteas to embark on a winding route up Nursery Ravine to Castle Rock, the imposing stone hunk above the gardens and admire the vegetation or fynbos, as it is called, from above. You might be lucky to spot a disa orchid, indigenous frogs or just admire the sunbirds and sugarbirds darting around dipping their long beaks into nectar rich blooms.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a heavenly place to visit. On the slopes of Table Mountain, with clear crystal fresh air, one of the nicest things to do is listen to the open-air concerts on a summer's evening.
Dusk descends gently over the sloping green lawns and the air, scented from the diverse range of flowers and plants, is filled with a different choice of music each Sunday evening.
Take a picnic including some superb chilled South African white wine to sip, while you relax, take in the views and listen in one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
Rhodes Drive, Newlands
Private Bag X7, Claremont
Tel: +27 21 799 8899
Fax: +27 21 797 6570
INFORMATION OFFICE: (021) 799 8783/8620 weekdays: (021) 7614916 weekends
A botanic garden, naturally, but it has thousands of plants all native to South Africa. It takes all day, but there is a nice eatery there too, as well as a bookshop. And from the back you can climb the old track up Table Mountain.
A bus goes from the bus station in the middle of the town, but check times. Journey is under 30 mins. The gardens are inland from the town centre.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org