Theme gardens were developed within the Garden, enabling visitors to follow, understand and remember the reasons for such groupings, rather than just the names of constituent plants. Honig created lively, engaging storyboards to serve as the key interpretive material for communication in the Garden. First to be launched was the ‘Water-wise garden’: visitors could see what is achievable in terms of structure, colour, resilience, economy and sustainability using species adapted to seasonal or long-term drought. The ‘Fragrance garden’ demonstrates the diversity of the scented plants that give fynbos its characteristic accents and notes. The ‘Garden of extinction’ tells of the threats faced by our flora, and the successes that have been achieved by Kirstenbosch’s Threatened Species Programme in propagating and reintroducing species – extinct in the wild – to their former habitats. Use of graphic displays such as Willem Boshoff’s ‘Garden of Names’ or the photo collage on the theme of Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall’ have been very effective in communicating messages on global environmental crises.
Round Trip Flight To Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Photo Gallery
Useful Plants garden
Eucomis autumnalis, one of the most important sources of traditional medicine, grows in the Useful Plants garden.
The theme garden that attracts the most interest among school learners is the Useful Plants garden, where the rich heritage of traditional plant use is presented. Old and young, whatever their backgrounds, whether locals or visitors, all marvel at the variety of medicinal, magical, food and fibre uses to which our flora has been put over the centuries. As younger generations become increasingly isolated from their cultural roots, this garden serves as a unique link to a rich but disappearing heritage.
A century ago, Harold Pearson lamented the poverty of South African interest in and knowledge of indigenous horticulture. This was at a time when there was not a single illustrated text on the country’s flora, and more expertise on growing proteas, mesems, agapanthus or gladiolus could be found in London, Paris or Berlin, than in Cape Town. We can look back with pride at the remarkable literature now available on our flora, including the unrivalled series of Wild Flower Guides published by the Botanical Society, the Kirstenbosch Grow and Gardening series, and the hugely successful website www.plantzafrica.com. which gives comprehensive horticultural notes on over 1 000 species at the click of a button.
The real key to interpretation, and to the excitement that it must provide, lies in the passion of the interpreter. In Ally Ashwell’s words:
‘There is no substitute for the warm, enthusiastic and informed welcome which first-time visitors receive from a person who knows and loves the Garden and wants to share its secrets. ’
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