South Africa is an amazing place for the variety of amazing natural flora both in the bush as well as in private and public gardens. There are many public gardens of interest to both locals and tourists; the gardens listed below are a good selection to start. Even if you are not an avid gardener what a great way for an expat to explore the South African natural beauty!
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town
Set on the slopes of Table Mountain the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens grow only indigenous South African plants, and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world. Once owned by Cecil Rhodes, now maintained by the South African government. The different areas include: an avenue of camphor trees, Useful Plants Garden, Sculpture Garden, and Protea Garden.
Vergelegen Garden, Somerset West
Vergelegen Garden has views over the surrounding mountains, but the views within the garden are equally spectacular. There is a White Garden with ponds, bulbs, herbs and a lavender walk. There are also a Wetland Garden, Rose Garden and Yellowood Walk.
Brenthurst Garden, Johannesburg
Brenthurst Gardens are meticulously tended and include a rose garden, a children’s garden, an indigenous grasses garden, a Japanese garden and a sculpture garden that includes Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Venus Victorieuse. Designed by Joane Pim, one of South Africa’s pioneer gardeners.
Hester Malan Wildflower Garden, Goegap Nature Reserve, Northern Cape
The Hester Malan Wildflower Garden is sandy meadowland with outcrops of granite and is a popular attraction to tourists and locals for the remarkable sight in spring—a normally arid landscape which becomes covered with lush colours during the spring flowering season. Throughout South Africa this is known as the Namaqualand daisy season, when orange and white daisies spring up everywhere.
The Company’s Garden was established in 1652 by Dutch settlers in order to grow fruit and vegetables as provision for spice-trading ships. Today the garden is one of the main Cape Town attractions. The beautiful gardens are a welcome respite from the busy city, but they also provide other interests such as the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa (planted in 1652), a rose garden, a fishpond, an aviary, and the Garden Tea Room, a local favourite restaurant.
Harold Porter Botanical Garden, Betty’s Bay
This beautiful, secluded garden has been set between mountains and the sea in the Cape fynbos region. The garden is well known for the attractive waterfalls and pools, as well as the Disa uniflora and King Protea.
National Botanic Garden, Bloemfontein
This garden crosses a valley between dolerite koppies. The tall grassland and woodland are dominated by incredible wild olive and karee trees. The garden includes many decorative and hardy trees indigenous to this area of South Africa. The garden has borrowed from the surrounding landscape, creating a harmony within it’s setting. Paths lead through the garden up to rocky outcrops with views to the wooded koppies.
KwaZulu Natal National Botanical Garden, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal
Because KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden was established by the British in 1874 the garden has quite an extensive collection of northern hemisphere plants, including swamp cypress, tulip trees, plane trees, giant figs, magnolias and a great avenue of London Planes. For the expat from the Northern Hemisphere who wants to walk through a garden landscape of home, this might be the place. However, the main emphasis of the garden now is to collect and conserve plants from South Africa’s eastern grasslands. One section of the garden has been designed to attract birds and another is a Useful Plants section.