If you are in Cape Town and want an incredible collection of indigenous trees, go to the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. However, if you are looking for something a little more exotic, then the stunning Arderne Gardens is certainly not going to disappoint!
Arderne Gardens is a public park and arboretum in Claremont, Cape Town, located in the Western Cape of South Africa. It was established by in 1845 by Ralph Henry Arderne, a timber merchant originally from Cheshire, England. In 1979, the park was named a South African Provincial Heritage Site, and is currently managed by City Parks of the City of Cape Town and the non-profit organisation Friends of the Arderne Gardens.
Weighing in at 4.5 hectares large, Arderne Gardens contain one of the richest collections of exotic trees and shrubs in South Africa, with more than 300 different species of trees (from literally all over the world) represented. In addition to its Japanese Garden and duck and fish ponds, it also features six Champion Trees, namely the massive Morton Bay Fig (one of the largest trees in South Africa), a Cork Oak, an Aleppo Pine (possibly the largest in the world), the Norfolk Island Pine, a Turkish Oak, and a Queensland Kauri.
In terms of history, the park forms part of the original Stellenberg estate, which was acquired by Ralph Henry Arderne (1802-1885) in 1845. He named it The Hill, and began to collect trees, shrubs and perennials from around the world. His elder son, Henry Matthew Arderne (1834-1914), was equally enthusiastic as a collector of plants and together the Ardernes had intended to create a garden containing the representatives of all the flora of the world, sourcing many of their trees and shrubs from Australia and New Zealand via trading them for local plants with passing ships.
The Hill was sold in 1914, and subsequently subdivided, with a portion of 4,5 hectares being registered in favour of the Council of the City of Cape Town in July 1928. It was this section that became known as Arderne Gardens in 1961.
The beautiful gardens with its ponds, lawns and shady nooks makes it a popular city retreat for Capetonians, and thus well worth visiting if you want to see something slightly different from the local flora that nearby Kirstenbosch has on offer!