Dear Garden Club Members,
Now that Eve Watson has managed to get back our blog site (hooray!) I am going to post something about our latest very enjoyable outing.
Most of the text was put together by Muriel Darke (with a few additions by others on the outing) and the pictures were mostly taken by Pam Hicks and Anne Collins. There are a few culled from the internet.
On September 4, a group of Marina Garden Club members visited Stellenbosch Botanical Garden, guided by Peter Kruger, who worked there for an extended period last year.
This is the oldest university garden in South Africa and is situated in the heart of the town. It gained international acclaim when it was recognised by the UK’s Botanical Gardens Conservation International. It was the first in Africa to gain this plaudit, and is one of only nine in the world.
The garden contains roses, ferns, herbs, medicinal plants, reeds, bamboo, bulbs, trees, shrubs, bromeliads, chrysanthemums, fountains, sculptures, aquatic plants, olives and previously, koi fish, until otters decimated that population.
The small garden (only 1.8 hectares) prides itself on being educational.
An early curator befriended ships’ captains calling at Table Bay and asked that they bring with them plants from ports they visited. Judging by the number of plants, he was persuasive and added a large quantity of flora to the garden.
The bonsai section is a large national collection of both exotic and indigenous bonsai trees. It contains trees from Hiroshima, sculpted to illustrate the before and after of that horror.
There are more examples of bonsai else where , including this very large one.
We visited only two of the four glasshouses with different climates. In the arid zone glasshouse, we saw the first welwitschia plants ever to be grown outside their natural habitat. There were also many desert adapted plants such as the quiver tree.
The tropical glass house contains many lovely plants including some tropical crops, such as chocolate,
vanilla (an orchid, which was not flowering at that time), and moringa (the latest wonder crop). It also houses Darwin’s orchid – an orchid with a flower that produces nectar at the base of a very long spur. Although the pollinator of the flower was unknown at the time that the plant was described, Darwin predicted that an insect with a proboscis long enough to reach down the spur would be found, and he was correct; there is a moth with an incredibly long tongue that does pollinate it. Although this orchid was not flowering when we were there, several other lovely orchids were:
Another big hit was the jade vine, a climber with flowers that start out a pale cream colour but mature to a beautiful cyan:
SUBG is home to the world’s smallest water lily, Nymphea thermarum, with lily pads only one cm wide. In warmed lily ponds, the giant water lily, Victoria cruziana, second in size only to Victoria amazonica, and with leaves up to two m wide is grown. The gardens are open at night for a few days in early March, so that visitors can come and see the flowers of this amazing plant.
In the vegetable gardens we saw a Hermitage grape vine, and a Pinot Noir vine, the parent cultivars of Pinotage, a South African creation!
There were also coffee plants, macadamia nuts, and many other useful herbs and fruits.
The outing finished with tea and cake at Katjiepiering restaurant in the garden.
Many thanks to Pam Hicks for arranging the outing.
There will be some more photos of us disporting ourselves on this lovely outing, in a later post.