Some small town stuff

Years ago when we were the owners of Soekershof Botanical Gardens one of our slogans was:

“Everything you always wanted to know about SEX … in the garden but never dared to ask”

Reason for the local tourism bureau to inform tourists not to go over there because it was all pornography … ūüėČ

Very prolific to me in that regard:

The off the beaten track botanical garden 2

(See also previous post)

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.

 

The off the beaten track botanical garden 1

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.

Canopy Walk

With plenty of blahblah .. blah KirstenBosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town is promoting the new Canopy Walk. Their budget is unlimited and whatever financial loss they make the South African government is paying the bills. The trees at Kirstenbosch (still a beautiful garden in its own right!) are relatively young and, partly, plantation trees. The visitors of Kirstenbosch will walk over the trees and looking straight forward see the backside of Table Mountain which shape from that side is everything except a table..

Enough banter!

How different is it in the Eastern Cape (near Plettenberg Bay along the Garden Route) where the Canopy Walk is located in an ancient forest with trees of over 800 years old and you walk partly under the canopies of indigenous/endemic old timers like Yellow Wood and Iron Wood. In nearby Nature Valley there is also a Board Walk (free of charge). Both are from a botanical and nature aesthetic point of view far more interesting than their new born cousin in Cape Town.

See for yourself:

 

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Deja Vu: The Caledon Botanical Garden

While tourists are, en masse, directed to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town by the tourism industry; real garden lovers from abroad (who did their own home work) prefer to go to a garden one-and-a-half hour East of the ‘Mothercity’. No tourist banter like coffee shops, restaurants and Made-in-China-shops but a real more natural enjoyment with stunning views and only plants that originate (endemic) from this region (Overberg). The garden is situated in the oldest (official) nature reserve of South Africa.

Going through my archive I re-discovered this wonderful garden.

A visit to the botanical garden in Caledon

About 50 kilometer from the place we live is the small town of Caledon and this place has a beautiful botanical garden in one of the oldest conservation areas in South Africa. Next month a magazine will publish my photographic impressions of this garden and I will keep you updated about this. For now, just a black to white view somewhere in this 56 hectare large garden with 10 km of stunning walk ways and hiking trails.

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From profession to hobby

Between April 2000 and July 2011 me and Yvonne owned Soekershof in Robertson. We restored and extended this historical botanical garden (with the oldest cactus -Anno 1910- of South Africa) and ended up with one of the world’s largest outdoor collections (>2600 species/subspecies/varieties/etc) of succulent plants including cacti. The garden was globally recognized in botanical/horticultural circles (except seemingly in South Africa). We were very honored when all the VIPs of de Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix (USA) spend a day with us on their tour along all known South African botanical gardens and even more honored when they published about their South Africa tour and unanimously declared Soekershof as “Best Garden Experience” in South Africa. It was hard work; 7 days per week from 6AM to 10PM and all together we had in those 11 years 2 weeks holiday. We even succeeded in maintaining the first blog in South Africa with guidelines about water wise gardening with succulent plants. The blog is still online and still foresees in a need although we stopped submitting new items since the sale of the farm. The new owners (German/Italian couple) are not really gardeners. The garden, still beautiful though, serves now as ‘decoration’ for their guest house and restaurant but the number of different plants has strongly declined. Plants need care; especially water wise plants. Anyway with our removal we took our private collection of (merely) rare plants with us to Stanford. We still love gardening but also a more quiet “Quality of Life”.

Here a visualised update of flowers in our garden (most of our ‘secrets’ are small and hidden….):

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Again in the garden

Both, my wife and I, like flowers. Maybe it’s our Dutch background (“Dutch say it with flowers”) but more likely it has to do with the restoration and extension of a historical botanical garden in South Africa that has kept us busy between April 2000 and July 2011. Anyway you find me every day in our garden with my camera and virtually every day there is something new. We live in an area with a subtropical climate (climate zone 10); ideal for succulent plants including cacti. Here are some pictures I shot during the last week or so.

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