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May 27, 2010

Company Gardens gets its own Visitor Centre


Leafy Company Gardens. Photo courtesy Jorge Lascar

Executive Deputy Mayor of Cape Town Alderman Ian Neilson officially opened the Company's Garden Visitor Centre on May 26, 2010.

The Visitor Centre, which is housed in the garden’s newly renovated Victorian House, will educate and inform residents and tourists who come to the tree-lined paths of the garden to feed the squirrels and relax.

Says Company Gardens Manager Rory Phelan: “We identified a need for an interpretation centre for the Company Gardens. The guides that accompany tourist groups explain some of its features, but invariably don’t give the complete picture of the historical, social and cultural significance of the historic garden.”

After Victorian House was fixed up, it was decided to use the space for a visitor’s centre. Included in its display is a comprehensive overview of the early history of the Cape of Good Hope and the development of the Company Gardens, which today holds more than 8 000 plant species.

According to Phelan, the garden’s landscape is unique in that it has two different landscape styles that have been overlaid: the Dutch “produce garden” grid pattern and the later Victorian informal style, known as “Victorian Romantic”, which was influenced by the 17th-century English landscape style.

“The garden also played an important role in the connection of cultures and continents and this is also elaborated on within the display,” says Phelan.

The City of Cape Town’s Communication Department and City Parks collaborated on the design of the display, which took many months to research and commission.

The display will be updated regularly to provide information about ongoing or future developments in the garden.

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