Many tourists who travel to South Africa visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town. From a botanical point of view this ‘tourist trap’ has been continuously detoriorating since we live in this part of the world. And we also hear this all the time from horticulturists/botanists of name and fame from around the globe so we’re not alone in our view. Kirstenbosch becomes nice when you go up the (Table) mountain but hardly any tourist walks that far. Besides all this the other thing that stopped us visiting this garden is the excessive use of herbicides and other chemicals (most visitors of the picnic concerts are not aware of the fact that they are sitting on a lawn sprayed with MCPA that keeps the grass free of weeds ….).
How different is a visit to the botanical garden of Caledon (approx. 90 minutes drive East of Cape Town). It’s located in one of the oldest official declared nature conservation areas in South Africa. Maintenance is done by the municipality and volunteers and kept to a minimum such as keeping the paths open. All plants are endemic to this part of the world; not such a huge variety but a delight to wonder around and discover. The garden which has a nice flow-over to the surrounding nature is not weed free but so is nature. Last Sunday we had our bi-annual walk and enjoyed it. This time we went all the way up to the dam on top and via a different path back to the entrance. It was a 6 kilometer hike in the right time of the year. The Western Cape is a Winter rainfall area and the best time to visit this garden is between June and October when most of the plants are in flower.