As it turns out, George, the administrative and commercial hub of the Garden Route, is home to its very own botanical garden, namely the relatively new (in terms of garden age) Garden Route Botanical Gardens.
Opened in 1998 and situated on the grounds of the old van Kervel Gardens (itself proclaimed a Nature Reserve by Nico Malan in 1986), the Garden Route Botanical Gardens is now managed by the Garden Route Botanical Gardens Trust, who together with local NGOs, residents, volunteers and George Municipality, have slowly but surely transformed the overrun and alien infested nature reserve into a green space worth visiting for anyone interested in the natural flora of the region.
Seeings as this particular botanical garden isn’t nearly as well funded as its official and much older SANBI national botanical garden sisters, it has a much more wild and unpolished feel to it, making it very different to any other botanical garden that you may have already experienced here in South Africa.
The gardens are home to a large forested area, through which you can amble along the so-called mushroom meander or head out on a much longer day hike.
There are wide open pet friendly stretches of lawn for those of you who are dog owners, a newly completed eco center building (which I’m not sure is operational yet), a onsite herbarium and nursery, the very eye catching medicinal mound (complete with two beautiful mosaic memorial benches at its summit), a large lily covered dam featuring a well positioned bird hide, a large shaded picnic lawn area with a bandstand/gazeebo for good measure, and of course, loads of walkways to explore.
The gardens also host the local parkrun, has access to the state forest mountain bike tracks, and even has a hidden geocache for those treasure hunters out there!
After dropping Jessica and my mom off at the Getafix Garden Cafe tea garden out in front of the main entrance gate for some play and rest time (for reference, Jess and I joined my folks for a long weekend away in Mossel Bay back in March), my Dad and I set off on a bit of an exploratory mission, cameras in hand and completely unprepared for walking about under the blazing hot sun.
Plenty of photos were taken, flowers admired, pathways walked, and vistas appreciated, making for quite a successful little mission in my opinion then.
(Truth be told, if it wasn’t for the fact that mom and Jessica were waiting for us back at the cafe, dad and I would probably have missioned about for at least another hour or two!)
As always, my little Huawei P9 phone did its best to capture a few of the sights on the day, though of course completely failed to capture anything remotely useful in the dappled light of the mushroom meander forest walk!
Well worth a visit if you are looking for somewhere green to stretch your legs in George then.