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.

The Company Gardens

The company Gardens in Cape Town underwent a complete facelift during the past years. The gardens date back to the initiative of the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. There are except for the reconstructed veggie garden nice walk ways and a collection of trees from around the globe. In many (botanical) aspects this garden is far more interesting than the touristic Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden at the other side of the Table Mountain. The Company Gardens are freely accessible for all. While Kirstenbosch is still ‘White dominated’ the visitors of the Company Gardens present a better reflection of the multicultural South African society.

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:

 

CanopyWalkEC5

Aloe Greenii ….

…. originates from Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa but, unfortunately, due to mismanagement and poaching not a single genuine specie is left on and around the mountain; only hybrids. Even the one(s) at Kirstenbosch are, according to (DNA) research not the real ones. Ours (acquired at a nursery somewhere several years ago) is!!! Every now and than we take ‘spin off’ of the motherland and give them away to people in Cape town and surrounds we know…

AloeGreenii

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.

Associations and an anecdote

It’s a bit of a tricky image but the reality is on display in our garden. Especially visiting women notice this combination of two cactus species and they are not shy about it; some are even measuring the columnar one…. (47.8 cm I heard).

AssociationWEB

But there is more to it. If you look to plants or in details of plants (like stamens) you undoubtfully have associations; especially using some imagination. That makes plants such fascinating objects to picture.

Between April 2000 and July 2011 we restored and extended the historical gardens (with oldest cactus, anno 1910, of South Africa) of Soekershof in Robertson. We ended up with an outdoor collection of over 2500 different species of succulent plants including cacti; by far the largest collection of its kind in Africa. And we had to market this place against the known heavily state financed and subsidized botanical gardens like Kirstenbosch in Cape Town.

One of the slogans to attract people was “Everything you always wanted to know about ……S – E – X ….. between plants but never dared to ask

Visitors from abroad could not find the way and asked to local tourism bureau. Says the representative of this bureau: “Don’t go there. It’s all p – o – r  – n – o – g – r – a – p – h – y in that garden”.

We never complained about it; it was the best mouth-to-mouth advertisement.

P.S. I’ve used spaces and lines between 2 words in an attempt to avoid search machines to pick these and to avoid unwanted visitors of this blog and the obvious spam.

P.S. 2 I used Photoshop to move the two barrel shaped cacti 10-15 cm just for a better composition.