Where do I start?! This was truly the trip of a lifetime. The gardens, the people, the wildlife, the wines…..how can I possibly recap all of that in just a post or two? Hopefully you were able to follow along through my Facebook posts because thanks to my husband Andy there are some remarkable photos on there, especially from our safaris.
For today's post, I'll focus on our visit to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden which I know was a highlight for many. The history of this goes back to the Stone Age, but the garden as we see it today began it's evolution in 1913.
The backdrop of rugged mountains was breathtaking and truly set the scene for the many wonderful plantings. Talk about 'borrowed views'!
We followed Stanley to get an overview of the garden and a better understanding of the collections. He also told us a little about the ways in which the garden strives to conserve water – a precious commodity.
I was familiar with the bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) from San Diego – and as a houseplant, but here at Kirstenbosch there was a beautiful gold variety (rather than the typical orange). It has been called 'Mandela's Gold' and was released by Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in 1996.
Incidentally, our guide Stanley made a point – several times – of telling us that this plant did NOT come from Hawaii – but rather was native to South Africa.
As always, I allow time for solo exploration after a guided tour. This was the perfect opportunity to go back and take more photos of areas that especially interested us.
I was totally enamored by the Proteaceae, especially the pincushion forms (Leucospernum spp.). The yellow pincushions were in full bloom – I was told the orange form would be dominant in another few weeks. The King protea (Protea cynaroides) was also flowering. I was fascinated by the rich colors and how they were used in the landscape.
Shades of coral
Shades of yellow
As a designer I'm fascinated by foliage, so the metallic silver tree ( Leucadendron argenteum) readily caught my eye from a distance.
The large silver tree is a protected evergreen tree and part of the Protea family. It is naturally confined to an area in and around the city of Cape Town, although historically it was widespread on Table Mountain, covering much of its slopes in shimmering silver forests. However, early demand for timber led to much of these forests being felled and now the silver tree is a rare and threatened species, in danger of becoming extinct in the wild in the next 50 years.
In my next blog post I'll take you to a private garden near Cape Town, Le Poirier, featuring pears, parrots, a parterre and so much more!
Would you like to join us?
International travel is both exciting and a privilege. It's an opportunity to learn about other cultures, gardens, and history. If I've piqued your interest, do check out my upcoming tours to England and New Zealand as well as a return visit to South Africa, but this time combined with Kenya. Newsletter subscribers get priority registration on all my tours so be sure to sign up!
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