Surrounded by mountains and vineyards, home to a small nature reserve in the middle of town, its historic streets lined from end to end with towering oak trees, Stellenbosch is of course no stranger to greenery, which is why then it makes sense that this university town is also home to the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa, the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden.

Situated in the historical center of Stellenbosch, the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden is a surprisingly compact botanical garden packed to the brim with an incredible diversity of plant life, both indigenous and exotic. Blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate that features dry warm summers and mild wet winters, the garden is able to support a wide variety of plant types, and indeed, is home to a number of indigenous Cape Floral Kingdom species that are now classified as being extinct in the wild.

The garden’s leafy confines is home to a number of plant collections, including the Western Cape Bonsai Heritage Collection, ranked as one of the biggest publicly accessible collection of bonsai in South Africa. Ferns, insectivorous plants, medicinal plants, oxalis, succulents and xerophytic plant can all be found in the various segments of this tightly laid out space, and in terms of trees, the garden is home to some particularly interesting specimens, like a giant sequoia (biggest tree species on earth), dawn redwood (thought to be extinct until 1948), Californian redwood (tallest tree species on earth), cinnamon, and even olive trees grown from cuttings taken from the Garden of Gethsemane (of biblical fame).

The garden is also home to a small shaded cafĂ© called Katjiepiering Restaurant (perfect to sit back and grab a coffee from), while the on premises shop offers a wide range of both local and regional products and plants. Also, it may be small, but its various nooks, crannies, and winding paths makes for an fun little outing with kids who you just know aren’t going to be impressed by pretty flowers alone!

Tranquil, lush, pretty – basically well worth the small entrance fee to gain access to this little slice of floral paradise.

Related Link: Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden | Stellenbosch