Botanical Gardens are a wonderful attraction to visit when traveling. All, including Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, are serene places of great beauty, but what sets Kirstenbosch apart from others is that it grows only indigenous South African plants. The 1,300 acre park, a lush green tablecloth spread at the foot of Table Mountain’s craggy peaks, features 90 acres of cultivated garden planted with blooming flowers that change with the seasons.
In the early spring (late July and early August), when temperatures are still cold and rains are common, the first of the annuals bloom and many of the Cape’s unique plants like proteas, ericas and buchus flower. When spring rolls around (September and October), warm weather creates the most colorful, showy display of the year. Namaqualand annuals, daisies in all the colors of the rainbow, and wild flax blue bells burst into bloom and carpet the landscape with fields of color.
The early summer months of November and December witness blooming succulents in colors varying from icy pink to bright orange, as well as another round of bulbous plants, many of which are from the lily family. This, too, is the time of year when trees begin to bloom; the Cape chestnut, laden with delicate pink flowers, is particularly breathtaking. During the hot, dry months of mid-summer, beautiful red orchids dot the slopes of Table Mountain, while puffy orange bloodflower balls and purple-blue Agapanthus commandeer the lowlands. Fall and winter, though less showy, offer a different kind of charm, as bright hues morph into a palette of burnished gold, rust, and oxblood.
Kirstenboch sponsors numerous special events throughout the year, including musical sunset concerts on the lawns, held on Sundays during the summer months. Craft markets are also held at the Stone Cottages (opposite Kirstenbosch) on the last Sunday of every month (except June, July & August). The facility also has an active Environmental Education Program, which inspires and enables people from all walks of life to take responsibility for the environment, as well as a Centre for Home Gardening, which sells plants and provides services to support the home garden. Several restaurants are also on site for those who want to make it an all-day visit. Kirstenbach Gardens is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. September through March and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April – August. The entrance fee is 35 Rand (about $4.50 U.S.) for adults and 10 Rand ($1.0 U.S.) for school children aged 6-17 years old. Children under 6 years old are free.
Photo credits: Barbara Weibel
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels