Kirstenbosch Garden, is a botanical garden located in the eastern foot of table mountains in Cape Town, South Africa. Let me inform you that a botanical garden is a garden dedicated to the collection, cultivation and display of a wide variety of plants labelled with botanic names or scientific names for the purposes of research, conservation and education. In other words every plant in this garden is significant, valuable and has an identity specific to it. Here the biological lineage of every plant is traceable.
World wide, there are now more than 1800 botanical gardens with the Kirstenbosch National Biological garden credited with been the most beautiful and famous garden in Africa and one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world.
The garden was created in 1913 and covers an area of 528 hectares which includes a cultivated garden and a natures reserve. The developed garden displays collections of South African plants including rare and endangered species. It is managed and operated by South African National Biodiversity Institute(SANBI).
The garden places a strong emphasis on the cultivation of indigenous plants.
To quickly tell us a little bit of the history; In 1660, Jan Van Riebeek, a Dutch navigator and colonial administrator who founded Cape Town, ordered that a hedge of wild Almond and brambles be planted to afford some protection to the Dutch Colony perimeter. Parts of this hedge named Van Riebeek’s hedge, still exist in Kirstenbosch.
The hedge is a provincial Heritage site.
The Kirsten part of the name is known to have been derived from the surname of the land manager, J.K Kirsten, in the 18th century. The bosch part of the name is a Dutch word meaning bush or forest.
The history of the area as a botanical garden is associated with Henry Harold Pearson, a renowned botanist from Cambridge who came to Cape Colony in 1903 to take up a position as a professor in the newly created Chair of Botany at the South African College(the predecessor of today’s University of Cape Town).
Pearson visited the area of Kirstenbosch in February 1911 to assess the suitability and viability of the area as a site for botanical garden.
The area was set aside for the purpose by the government of the Colony on 1 July 1913.
Pearson then sprang into action and commenced work on the area of Kirstenbosch, planting Cycads which are still present there till date.
Pearson passed in 1916 and was buried in his beloved garden, and his epitaph is still standing there.
Suffice to say that, the Kirstenbosch garden despite playing a major role in research activities, has now become a major site of tourist attraction in the region and all over the world.
This garden is one of the places in the world that provide visitors with an unforgettable experience as there is always something different to see with great spots for picnics. Some of the visitor facilities in this garden include; restaurants, a nursery, a gift shop, a bookshop and a permanent Zimbabwean stone culture exhibition.
Another spectacular facility is the treetop canopy walkway which was a gift to the garden when she celebrated her centenary in 2013(She actually has been around for more than 100 years now). The canopy walkway gracefully meanders its way along the treetops reaching a height of 12 metres from the ground and touches the ground twice. Its length is about 130m long. The walk way is made from steel and wood. Its unofficial name is the Boomslang(tree snake) because it mimics the snake of the same name that is native to South Africa and found in trees.
Strolling on the walkway provides you the luxury of having a panoramic view of this most beautiful garden. I can assure you that once on the walk way, you wouldn’t likely want to ever go back down to the ground level as you are gifted with a magical experience and concept.
Even if you have the slightest fondness for plants and flowers, you should plan a short visit to Kirstenbosch botanical garden, and i assure you it will be fun.
The garden experience is an awesome one, little wonder why we are told that God created Garden of Eden to be inhabited by the man he created. So the garden of Eden was a significant gift to the first man.
I am a lover of gardens and flowers, that was why in getting my house i made sure there was space to cultivate a little garden where i could plant flowers and other plants.
In your next trip to Cape Town, make sure you visit this beautiful garden.
P.S: Images not ours unless stated.
Written by Samuel Agboma