First opened in 1979, the award-winning Durbanville Rose Garden stands as one of only three trial rose gardens in the Southern Hemisphere. Jointly cared for by the Friends of the Rose Garden society and the Durbanville Municipality, this lovely garden stands at 3.5 hectares big, with around 4,500 bushes representing about 500 rose varietals!
Situated along one of the main arteries into Durbanville, the R302, it is impossible to miss this colourful, open patch of green land with its distinctive white entrance building standing proudly out front and center.
The rose garden itself is partly planted on land from the original Old Eversdal Estate, donated to the town by the Schabort family. Notably the Schabort family burial ground and memorial are in fact situated in the rose garden as well, a slightly somber addition to this otherwise brightly coloured affair.
Entry to the garden is free, with the occasional Sunday afternoon tea being served in the clubhouse from October through to May (often hosted by different groups and societies).
Naturally, picking of the roses is strictly prohibited!
Although the surrounding Durbanville vineyards have slowly given way to housing and other commercial developments over the years, this particular patch of green has become quite popular with the locals, and you will often find full-on wedding shoots happening in among the roses come just about every other weekend!
Funnily enough, I lived most of my life in the Northern Suburbs without once ever stopping to stroll about these fragrant pathways, a mistake that I at long last rectified by making the drive through and dropping in with the girls one quiet Sunday morning in the middle of February.
Beautiful flowers, a well cared for garden, fantastic views of the mountains in the distance, and of course a tranquil atmosphere makes this a particularly charming and slightly unexpected little stop in the middle of Durbanville suburbia.
Especially if you are into your roses!
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Also, a map to the rose garden, just in case you don’t know where Durbanville actually is:
The West Coast National Park is not the best SANParks national park to recommend visiting if you are looking for some big game to spot. However, with the idyllic Langebaan lagoon as its focal point, the 27,500 hectare large West Coast National Park is certainly more public friendly than most, with it being one of the few national parks where you can cycle, jog, braai, suntan, swim in the sea, picnic, swim in a lagoon, or even camp out on houseboat!
(Plus, there are actually antelope and smaller creatures to be spotted, and of course plenty of diverse bird life for the enthusiast).
Spring however is when the park really comes to life, where the annual carpets of colourful wild flowers show their faces and turn the area into an amazing sprawl of delight.
Naturally, SANParks immediately hikes the entry fee to take advantage of this surge of interest in the area, but it is money well spent, believe you me (unless of course you own a Wild Card, because well then entry is free) – if you haven’t yet witnessed the incredible carpeted fields of colour that the private Postberg Flower Reserve unveils come Spring, then you simply have to make a plan for next year.
Capetonians (i.e. people from Cape Town) descend on the park in their hordes, with lengthy queues at the entrance gate quite the norm. (Tip: If you don’t enjoy waiting in queues, you can go the long way around and enter via the Langebaan gate – usually a much less busy gateway into the park!)
Apart from these few weeks in Spring, the Postberg Flower Reserve section of the park is closed to the public, meaning that it remains unspoiled for much of the year. Every year this then pays dividends when the hills literally start exploding with colour as the flower season begins.
Chantelle and I had seen this spectacle for ourselves for the first time last year (we even overnighted in Hopefield of all places!), and this year we were quite eager for the girls to also see this wonderful sight of nature at her best.
Having enjoyed a big family bash in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday the day before, Sunday saw us head out down the N7 and then R27 to Langebaan, where we met up with my Mom and Dad for a day of flower watching.
This turned out to actually be a great plan, because we knew that the girls would probably become bored quite quickly (and thus start annoying each other in the back), so we split them up, with Jessica riding in Mom and Dad’s car while Emily stayed with us (on Chantelle’s lap).
We spent the next couple of hours driving through the park, admiring all the colours and of course getting slightly flustered with all the traffic. As you would imagine, cars were parked everywhere, with pretty much anyone with even the slightest inkling of calling themselves a photographer spilling out to capture as much of the flower covered landscape as possible.
We were treated to some amazing sights, and explored a bit more of the area than what we did last time around (this time I made sure I had enough petrol before going in!), and after our visual senses were properly sated, we headed down back to the lagoon for a bite to eat at the park’s Geelbek Restaurant.
At least, that was the plan until we quickly realized that perhaps they were simply too busy to actually give good service, and so opted to abandon our table and rather exit the park to grab a now very late lunch from the nearby Beulah Farm Deli instead.
So in the end it was a day well spent, and I therefore suspect that next year we will probably be back again. Though perhaps this time even more prepared to make an even fuller day out of it! (In other words, remembering to pack a picnic basket for a change…)
Oh, and once again, taking pictures of fields of flowers doesn’t really work all that well when all you have is your Huawei cellphone for the job. Nevertheless, I tried my best:
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(Oh, and sadly we did see less animals than what we did last time around. Not a big train smash though, so long as you go into the park knowing that animal spotting is not the big drawcard here!)
With Chantelle and Tarryn treating her mom to a surprise high tea at the Mount Nelson (in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday), the girls and I were left to our own devices – and ordered to kill time until a big family birthday braai get together come that evening.
So the kids and I did what I currently enjoy doing the most – we hit the road and went exploring.
Apart from the two interesting finds that we did make on the day, the first being Vredenhof Organic Estate in Somerset West, and the second being the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch, the most colourful of the lot was our small detour to the Stellenbosch Flying Club to do a bit of plane watching.
You see, an unexpected bonus lay in wait for us: the airstrip had been transformed into a colourful wild flower display, thanks to Spring being currently in the air!
Jessica decided that she was quite content to rest and watch planes from the comfort of the car (parked under a nice and shady tree), so it was just Emily and myself then that happily wandered about the grounds, admiring the blooming flowers and excitedly watching the odd plane take off and come back in again for landing.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day out, and we spotted quite a few people relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant. (Interesting fact: with over 600 members and 160 aircraft based on the airfield, Stellenbosch is now considered one of the biggest Flying Clubs in South Africa).
Much to Emily’s annoyance, I paid far too much attention to the historic De Havilland Vampire on display, but it couldn’t really be helped – this is after all the plane that for all intent and purpose ushered in the jet age for the South African Air Force (SAAF) back in the day.
Anyway, the point is that this was a rather nice, quick and rewarding stop on a day which in the end was going to turn out to be quite a long one indeed!
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Oh, seeing as access to the flying club is open to the general public, I’ve gone and added this map in case you also want to head out that way and watch some planes – or grab an introductory flight lesson like I did last year! ;)
Sunday (a few weeks ago mind you) was the culmination of our little jaunt to Hopefield – a viewing of the magnificent Spring wild flowers at the Postberg Flower Reserve within the West Coast National Park.
Having spared the kids the torture of sitting in a car the whole day by leaving them back in Bellville with the grandparents, we followed up our evening of good rest in Hopefield with a pleasant breakfast at the Merry Widow, and then packed our bags and made our way to the Langebaan gate of the West Coast National Park.
It was still pretty early, so getting in wasn’t an issue in terms of what we hear can be quite lengthy queues at this time of the year, and pretty soon we were cruising along the tarred road, admiring the view of the vegetation, sea and of course, azure blue Langebaan lagoon!
Truthfully, the West Coast National Park on the whole isn’t the best of parks for viewing animals given the combination of thick, shrub-like vegetation and tarred roads, but nevertheless, we spotted a fair number of snakes, tortoises and even some Eland on our way towards the Postberg Flower Reserve entrance.
The privately owned (but managed by SANParks) Postberg Flower Reserve is closed to the public except for a short period during Spring (i.e. flower viewing season), meaning that this secluded piece of land is literally covered from head to toe in a brilliant explosion of pink, orange, purple, yellow and white wild flowers – making for an absolutely jaw-dropping beautiful spectacle to behold.
(Also, its secluded nature means that the antelope haven’t yet learned to shy away from the roads, making sighting of gemsbok, eland, steenbok, bontebok, kudu and red hartebeest an almost surety – and indeed, we were thoroughly rewarded in terms of herd sightings!)
Also – I thought it a particularly special sighting – we stumbled across an owl sitting out in the open, just happily perched there on a branch, allowing the cars to pass by without a seeming care in the world!
As expected, the Postberg was literally crawling with people out to see the flowers, and despite the multitude of signs posted all around, as is human nature I guess, these were completely ignored and people were stopped all over the place, out of their vehicles, trampling flowers, and stomping about- all to get the best shot possible of course.
Despite this though, the flowers really were something amazing to behold and I’m very pleased that Chantelle and I made the trip through to see this – highly recommended indeed!
Sadly though, a lack of petrol and a need to save both set of grandparents from our kids meant that we couldn’t exactly spend the whole day wandering about the park (which by the way boasts some fantastic facilities and is one of the few parks that encourages you to ride bike, braai, etc.), meaning back home we had to turn.
Which was a nervous drive out the park mind you – that petrol gauge was looking suspiciously low!
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(We did stop on the way back at the colourful West Coast Farm Stall for a quick coffee and bite to eat – which in hindsight was a bad move because without the kids to enjoy its silly ‘artistic’ eccentricities, the place comes across as more than just a little rundown/tacky.)
Anyway, we arrived back in Bellville safely, picked up Jessica and Emily (who were over the moon to see Mommy and Daddy again), and headed back home to Gordon’s Bay, having enjoyed a thoroughly good whirlwind weekend of out and about! :)
This private garden is home to an incredible 150 Wisteria flowering plants spanning 20 different species. The garden’s main attraction is the Wisteria Flower Tunnel that allows visitors to walk down an enchanting 220m long tunnel exploding with colour.
A member of the pea family native to the Eastern United States and to China, Korea, and Japan, Wisteria is an ornamental vine, wildly popular in both Eastern and Western gardens for its graceful hanging flowers and its ornate, winding branches. Easily trained, the woody vines tend to reach maturity within a few years, at which point they bloom in cascades of long, lavender flowers of varying pastel shades.
Make sure to visit in late April or Early May, during the “Fuji Matsuri,” or “Wisteria Festival,” when the magical tunnel is in full bloom. Arrive at any other time of year, and sadly it is not quite as spectacular – i.e. there isn’t anything to look at!
If you ever find yourself in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan, then it might just be worth your while to pop in to the renowned Hitachi Seaside Park whilst you are there.
Hitachi Seaside Park is a public park that covers an area of 190 hectares, featuring blooming flowers all year round.
In particular, the park has become known for its (Nemophila) baby blue-eyes flowers, with the blooming of 4.5 million of the translucent-petaled blue flowers in the spring drawing travellers from both near and far.
In Autumn the colorful cosmos blooms and blazing red kochia bushes (aka burning bush, ragweed, summer cypress, or Mexican fireweed) spring into action:
The park includes cycling trails and a small amusement park with a Ferris wheel. (It also hosts the annual musical Rock in Japan Festival every August.)
(If you were wondering, the nearest railway station is Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line. Of course, Google Maps could have told you that.)
Chantelle showing off her green fingers and planting all of her newly purchased flowers – thereby transforming our home from drab to awesome, one bulb at a time!
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Over the last couple of weekends we have been tackling and beautifying what had become a slightly forlorn and disparaging sight over the hot summer months since Jessica’s unexpected arrival.
True, having the majority of our garden implements stolen out of our shed didn’t help, but nevertheless, that is what insurance is for (with a bloody HUGE excess I might snarkily add) I guess.
Anyway, one of the earliest projects we tackled (and I use the term we rather loosely, as the majority of work and ideas belong to Chantelle), was the lounge flower bed housing our big Sheena’s Gold tree.
Our gardening service only mows the lawn, meaning that flower beds are left up to us – and when I say us I really mean Chantelle!
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