Monday, June 8, 2009


Today we visited the Kirstenbosch botanical garden, established in 1913 to “conserve and promote the indigenous flora of southern Africa.” Kirstenbosch is the largest of a countrywide network of nine botanical gardens administered by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), which also maintains three plant reference collections and is involved in research and environmental education.

Kirstenbosch is situated at the foot of Table Mountain on the eastern side and is internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest botanical gardens. Covering approximately 528 hectares, it includes a cultivated garden and nature reserve. Housed in the "Garden of Extinction" there are many rare and endangered plant species including: Erica verticillata (extinct in the wild), Leucospermum formosum (vulnerable), Barleria greenii (endangered), Encephalartos latifrons (critically endangered) and many others. "Kirstenbosch participates in the Threatened Species Programme, by collecting, cultivating, and propagating threatened plants; making plant material available to gardeners and re-introducing plants to the wild; and

banking seed with the Millennium Seed Bank."

While we weren’t able to visit the Kirstenbosch during the peak season to see the flowers in full bloom, the park grounds were spectacular in and of themselves. We seized the opportunity to go on a clear day with mild temperatures and blue skies. Another added bonus of visiting Kirstenbosch in the off-peak season is not having to deal with throngs of other tourists. We had the garden practically to ourselves! Sitting on a park bench (as I am right now) enjoying the chirping birds and gently blowing breeze while taking in the incredible view of Cape Town from the top of the garden… well, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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