Tag Archives: botanical garden

Flowers of the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden (2018-09-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 SEP 2019

Located in the historical center of Stellenbosch, the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden is the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa. While the garden itself is relatively small, it houses an incredible diversity of plants both indigenous and introduced, and is an absolute MUST for anyone even vaguely interested in plant life!

Open to the public, for a negligible entrance fee you can leisurely stroll around the grounds moving from one beautifully arranged collection to the next, picking your way through the bonsai, fern, insectivorous plant, medicinal plant, oxalis, succulent and xerophyte plant collections, all the while taking in the vast array of rare, threatened, endangered, and even extinct Cape Floral Kingdom species around you.

And then there are the trees, including giant sequoia (the biggest tree species on earth), dawn redwood (thought to be extinct until 1948), California redwood (the tallest tree species on earth), and even olive trees grown from cuttings from the Garden of Gehsemane!

It is a lush, dizzying collection of the most wonderful plants, in a well cared for environment that is scattered with benches, fountains, sculptures and other pieces of historical interest. (And the occasional student frantically scribbling notes).

Also, if you just want to sit, drink a cup of coffee and take in all this verdant green nature around you, then the onsite Katjiepiering Restaurant has you covered. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

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Blacksmith Coffee and Sliders at Getafix Garden Cafe in George (2019-01-06) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 15 AUG 2019

George is the second largest city in the Western Cape, in order words, there can be a fair bit of hustle and bustle at times, meaning that the perfect place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat is somewhere that takes you away from all that busyness. Exactly why I like the Getafix Garden Cafe so much then.

Situated in a house on the grounds of the charming Garden Route Botanical Garden, this Asterix and Obelix themed eatery offers simple outdoor eating with a nice big kid (and dog) friendly lawn and a view of the magical Outeniqua Mountains in front of you.

If you don’t mind waiting (the kitchen is SUPER small), then the African Blacksmith coffee is particularly good, the menu fun, the vibe chilled, and of course whenever you feel like it, you can get up and stroll through the natural beauty of the botanical garden itself.

Oh, and they host an evening market every now and then too.

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Feeding Squirrels in the Company’s Garden in Cape Town (2017-08-20) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 14 MAR 2019

The historic Company’s Garden in the heart of Cape Town is always worth a visit. A hearty breakfast or light lunch at the now renovated (and very family friendly) Company’s Garden Restaurant is a must, a stroll around the beautifully cultivated gardens a pleasure, and the buying of bags of peanuts from the local vendors to feed the abundant squirrels and pigeons a necessity.

Originally created in the 1650s as a resource from which fresh produce for ships rounding the Cape could be harvested, these days the Company’s Garden enjoys a role of providing a much visited lush and tranquil green space for city dwellers to escape the nearby bustle of the Mother City.

Centrally located, the Company’s Garden is bordered by Parliament and Tuynhuys, the National Library of South Africa, St George’s Cathedral, the Iziko Slave Lodge, Centre for the Book, the South African Jewish Museum, the South African National Gallery, and the Iziko South African Museum – basically a heap of really good tourist options for any visiting history enthusiast.

The garden itself is home to a number of interesting artifacts, plants, war memorials and monuments. For example, the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa (circa 1652) calls the Company’s Garden home, as does a rose garden that was designed and build in 1929. Then there’s also the Dellville Wood Memorial (1932), a small aviary, a towering statue of Cecil John Rhodes (1910), an Artillery Memorial, a Japanese Lantern Monument (1932), and a striking figure of Jan Smuts (1964) to name but a few.

As for my kids – well, they’re just there for the squirrels and pigeons of course!

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The Champion Trees of the Arderne Gardens in Claremont (2017-11-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 26 JAN 2019

A proper hidden gem of Cape Town, Claremont’s Arderne Gardens is home to more than 300, mostly exotic, species of trees – and if you are on the hunt for South African champion trees, then this is surprisingly quite a good place to start. (It has six of them in its collection!)

Having previously written about the garden it became imperative that the girls and I head out on a trip to see it for ourselves – and so one trek into the deep Southern Suburbs later, we found ourselves peacefully ambling about in this most tranquil of green spaces!

It was magnificent.

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And yes, the six Champion Trees, the Morton Bay Fig, the Cork Oak, the Aleppo Pine, the Norfolk Island Pine, the Turkish Oak, and the Queensland Kauri, were all VERY impressive to see.

Related Link: Arderne Gardens | Friends of Arderne Gardens

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Related Link: University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden | Wikipedia