Tag Archives: botanical garden

Lunch at Getafix Garden Cafe in George (2017-03-20) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 01 MAY 2017

For some strange reason the owners of the Getafix Garden Cafe at the entrance of the Garden Route Botanical Garden in George have absolutely no qualms (or fear of copyright lawyers) around using Asterix and Obelix material for both their name and marketing material. I mean sure, ‘Getafix’ works for me in the ‘Get a fix of coffee’ like the lovely new owner duly explained to me on the day, but the Asterix and Obelix link?

Anyway, moving swiftly along, the little garden cafe is actually pretty great. It sits on the grounds of the Garden Route Botanical Garden in George, right next to the main entrance/info house and right in front of the nursery.

This then of course means that it is perfectly positioned to feed and hydrate all those who enter and exit the gardens, from hikers to dog walkers and of course all those Park Run enthusiasts that descend upon the botanical garden each and every Saturday morning.

Despite the very small kitchen space, the restaurant churns out some pretty exciting food, with the artisan touches of the owners on full display with pretty much every dish. The coffee is particularly good, and the space, as you might expect from being part of a botanical garden, pretty tranquil.

There is a lovely stretch of lawn out in front of the outdoor dining tables, complete with kids playpark equipment scattered about and a little hidden fairy grove as well.

(And yes, they do apparently cater for kids parties as well).

Back in March this year (during a Pinnacle Point long weekend break away), we found ourselves having a late lunch at Getafix, following the botanical garden walkabout that my dad and I had just completed.

Pleasingly, it was pretty good.

The new owners have definitely turned this old place around, making Getafix now well worth the refreshments stop if you find yourself in the area – definitely a plus for George!

Related Link: Getafix Garden Cafe | Facebook | Garden Route Botanical Garden

Walking in the Garden Route Botanical Gardens in George (2017-03-20) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 08 APR 2017

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.

Related Link: Garden Route Botanical Gardens | Facebook

Things to See in Ukraine: Sofiyivsky Park in Uman Travel Attractions 27 OCT 2016

The once privately-owned city (by Poland) of Uman, situated in the Cherkasy Oblast in central Ukraine, is home to the beautiful 220 year old Sofiyivsky Park, a landscaped arboretum that accounts for over 2,000 types of trees and brush, and which is recognised as a scenic landmark of word gardening design at the beginning of the 19th century.

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One of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine, Sofiyivsky Park was founded in 1796 by Polish noble  Count Stanisław Szczęsny Potocki, and was then later presented (in 1802) to his Greek wife, the adventurous and storied beauty that was Zofia Potocka as a birthday gift.

Designed by the military engineer Ludwig Metzel, Sofiyivka was largely planned in the classic Italian Baroque gardens tradition of the time, with many concepts from Greco-Roman antiquity in full display. The story has it that by design, the park illustrates different parts of Homer’s poems Odyssey and Iliad. For example, the park has its own Elysian Fields and its own River Styx, with various statues and busts of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Apollo, Mercury and Venus gracing the alleys and groves.

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Metzel also incoporated the more contemporary “English style” ideas in landscaping in his design, with so-called “wild sections” also added in for good measure.

These days Sofiyivsky Park is both a public space, a national arboretum and home to the scientific-researching institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU Department of Biology).

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Full of exotic trees, fragrant flowers, hidden pathways, and small lakes, the park is a popular recreational spot, with a reported annual visitor count of around 500,000 people.

In other words, perfect for romantic strolls and picnics then!

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That said, if you are without a date and maybe need some help in the department of dating Ukranian girls, you may very well want to jump on over to jump4love.com and perhaps give one their romance tours a try! ;)

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Related Link: Sofiyivka | WikipediaUman

Picnic at the Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (2016-05-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 JUN 2016

We discovered the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay last year, and following our delightful little outing to the Stony Point penguin colony with Retha and Miguel, we decided that the botanical garden would be the perfect spot for some delicious picnic food.

Which it was.

The slightly overcast weather must have driven off all the other visitors for the day, because we pretty much had the entire garden to ourselves. Selecting a beautiful lush section of lawn, we plonked our blanket down and started tucking in to a simple but yummy selection of Chantelle and Retha organized snacks.

The girls then decided that a short nap/chat was in order, while I missioned off with Miguel and the girls, eager to show off the first bridge leading into the Leopard’s Kloof area.

Sadly for me though, it turns out that the reconstruction of the bridges is now in full swing (the park was heavily damaged by flooding in 2013), which meant that we couldn’t really get very far as the first bridge is now inconveniently blocked off in the middle!

(Probably just as well because it turned out that my two little girls were in fact in NO mood to walk anywhere anyway!)

So instead, Miguel and I strolled around the gardens for a bit, played with the girls on the outdoor stage area, and then summoned the ladies to head off for coffee at the onsite Red Disa restaurant – a welcome which was made even more pleasant by the owner setting down some nice Old Brown Sherry in front of us when we got there!

I guess we’ll just have to give it another shot a little later then, once all the bridges are back up and running. As for a picnic venue, it’s quite difficult to beat the beautiful surrounds that make up the Harold Porter Botanical Garden!

Related Link: Harold Porter Botanical Garden

Visiting the University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden (2016-05-31) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 JUN 2016

I’ve mentioned in passing that I might be heading over to the US in July to attend an expo for business purposes, and as such I obviously needed to pick up a US visa – a story I still need to get around to telling in these pages. Anyway, I went through the process and instead of having it delivered to my door, I opted to pick it up directly from DHL, ostensibly because I wanted a reason to make a weekday trip through to Stellenbosch so that I could wander about the beautiful University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden without having the girls running around under my feet!

Located in the historical center of Stellenbosch and open to the public, the University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden is in fact the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa, having been first established at its current site in 1922, but with a history that dates back to 1902!

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The botanical garden is extremely compact, yet it is packed with a massive variety of thriving plant life, with plant species that are both indigenous or introduced. There are a number of theme gardens on the site, including a bonsai-en, bulb beds, waterliliy ponds, rockeries, fern house, tropical glasshouse and arid glasshouses. Many of these theme gardens date back to the founding of the Botanical Garden and some are still used by university students for practicals while others fulfill a purely aesthetic purpose.

There is a small restaurant situated in the middle of the lush trees (the Katjiepiering Restaurant), as well as a visitor center/shop and a plant sales section.

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The garden is extremely lush, superbly maintained, and the plants are well signposted, making exploring the garden a delight. If you are a more serious plant explorer, the University of Stellenbosch has invested in and released a Garden Explorer tool, which essentially provides a digital plant map for you to work with.

There are some spectacular and massive trees in the garden, including a huge California redwood that I took quite a liking to. The garden also hosts a lot of sculpture and art, so there is quite often some interesting pieces to stumble across as you work you way through the site. As you might expect then, the garden is a fantastic little spot to escape to in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy Stellenbosch, literally a small piece of green paradise in the middle of a very beautiful town!

There is no entrance fee, so if you love gardens, then I can highly recommend taking the time to pop in when you get a chance.

Related Link: University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden | Wikipedia

The KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden (2016-04-12) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 18 APR 2016

Surprisingly, Pietermaritzburg, capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa doesn’t feature a huge amount of tourist attractions. However, it is home to one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden.

IMG_20160412_144720 magnificent trees making up the plane avenue in the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden

Situated along Mayor’s Walk, in the western suburbs of Pietermaritzburg, the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden was first established back in 1874, with the garden being home to cultivated plants from both eastern South Africa and the Northern Hemisphere.

A member of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the garden features a century old lane of plane trees, leading northwards from the entrance, and a forested hillside with a number of footpaths. The Dorpspruit, a tributary of the Msunduze River, flows at the base of the hillside.

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Other attractions include the Insect Hotel, Clivia Dam and theme gardens including the popular Zulu Demonstration Garden, Cycad Garden and a Permaculture Garden. It also boasts a Children’s Play Area, is one of only a few SANBI National Botanical Gardens that has braai facilities. (There is also a small restaurant on the premises, as well as a weekly Farmers Market that occurs on the grounds.)

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As you might imagine, the is a lot of bird life to be spotted in the garden, with something like 180 species already noted as being present!

(One of the most interesting things that I saw in the garden was the so-called paper tree, with bark literally the texture and softness of damp paper!)

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I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in the garden as what I might have liked to (I was after all, only in the area due to a business meeting earlier that morning ), but this lush, green and shade soaked botanical garden is most definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area and crave a moment of peace and tranquility!

Related Link: KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden

Things to See in South Africa: The Arderne Gardens in Cape Town Travel Attractions 10 FEB 2016

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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(Select photos courtesy of Marie Frei at the Friends of the Arderne Gardens)

Related Link: Arderne Gardens | Friends of Arderne Gardens

Visiting Harold Porter Botanical Garden with Friends (2015-06-27) Photo Gallery 11 JUL 2015

The annual Gordon’s Bay “Festival of Lights” or “Winter Wonderland” has now come and gone, carnival weekends and all. As it turned out, Chantelle and I didn’t really end up spending too much time on it, primarily because we were busy with other things – like inviting our friends out to our side of the world for a change! :)

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With a braai organised at the guest house in the evening, and a visit to the penguins already done, Evan, Natasha, Dean and Zania joined Chantelle and myself for a little stroll around the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay (our second ever visit there), on what proved to be quite a beautiful winter’s day.

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As it turned out, a troop of baboons had decided to visit the gardens while we were there, meaning that we were treated to quite a few spectacles – from little baby baboons tumbling about on the grass, all the way through to adult baboons lounging around on the park benches!

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Quite a sight indeed! :)

(And of course, a walk in the sun simply had to be followed up with some refreshments at the Red Disa restaurant…)

Related Link: Harold Porter Botanical Gardens

Lunch at the Red Disa in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Betty’s Bay (2015-05-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 JUN 2015

Back in early May, Chantelle and I took the kids out for a day, heading down the beautiful Clarence Drive to go and see the always cute penguin colony at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay.

For lunch we stumbled across a beautiful national botanical garden that I never even knew about, the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens (in Betty’s Bay).

From Wikipedia: “The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden located between mountain and sea, in the heart of the Cape Fynbos region within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve to the east of Cape Town, South Africa. With about 1,600 plant species, the area contains a floral diversity per unit area that is greater than anywhere else in the world. The Garden consists of 10 hectares of cultivated gardens and 190.5 hectares of pristine natural fynbos.”

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It’s an incredibly stunning botanical garden, nestled in the mountains with an abundance of walking trails and jaw dropping vistas, not to mention a massive variety of plant life and plenty of paths to wander about and get lost in.

Lots of great picnic spots and needless to say, a place I see ourselves visiting more than just a few times now that we know it exists!

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We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Red Disa restaurant (which admittedly, I did think a little pricey on some of their items), sitting outside to soak up the sun and admire the views (which is difficult to do in reality when your two little ones are not particularly adept at sitting still – and not grabbing each and every little thing in front of them!)

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A good find indeed!

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More photos from the day:

Related Link: SANBI: Harold Porter | Wikipedia