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June 19, 2010

A day out at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

blackbearded sugarbush kirstenbosch

Black-bearded sugarbush at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Photo courtesy flowcomm

Set on the slopes of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak (the other end of Table Mountain, that is – the side that gets the most rain, is lusciously green during the rainy season, and which is also home to the University of Cape Town’s main campus), Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was sheltered from the cold and overcast weather that the City Bowl experienced today. As a result, it was a beautiful day to visit the garden, which forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom (one of eight South African World Heritage Sites).

Dappled sunlight broke through the massive camphor trees on Camphor Avenue as flocks of guinea fowl – mature and juvenile – ambled across the path. Groups of children entertained themselves by rolling around on the grass, while relaxed parents plonked down beside them. Couples picnicked on the sprawling lawns under the shadow of the mountain, while pensioners and tourists strolled along the pathways and lingered to read the informative signs that describe the roughly 22 000 plants that colour the garden.

The Useful Plant Garden has a number of very interesting specimens. From plants for tummy trouble or to quench your thirst, to remedies for bites and creepy crawlies, and plants that are used to make dye (even though they are all green to begin with), you can learn a lot by doing a bit of reading while taking in the fresh air and serenity.

If you’re looking for something indoors, there is currently an art exhibition on at Kirstenbosch’s Sanlam Hall. The artworks on show are in a variety of mediums and depict familiar and beautiful South African scenes: images of Cape Town, landscapes, people and animals in modern, classic, abstract and highly realistic styles.

kirstenbosch boy running

A healthy dose of exercise masquerading as fun… Photo courtesy flowcomm

Particularly beautiful were the prints by Bowen Boshier, a reclusive Capetonian artist whose pencil drawings depict African wilderness scenes. His creations are stark but riveting grey-and-white pieces, in exquisite detail.

All artworks – originals and reproductions – are for sale.

After taking in the natural and cultural heritage that Kirstenbosch has to offer, some visitors gathered outdoors, basking in the sun at the Botanical Café and Silvertree Deli and Restaurant until dusk. 



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