An afternoon at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town is one of the seven most magnificent gardens in the world. The 528 hectares of this beautiful estate includes cultivated gardens and a nature reserve. The garden is known for its collection of southern African plants including many rare and endangered species. There were not many flowers when we visited in August but the sun was shining and views gorgeous. We spent the afternoon in the beautiful garden admiring the sculptures and has a lovely lunch with a nice view.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com

The earth smiles in flowers… while there were no flowers in bloom when we visited Kirstenbosch in Cape Town, the earth was still smiling… in the form of blue skies and big mountains!

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town

Spring is the most colorful time of year and the best time to visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town. Most flowers start to bloom between mid August and last till mid October. The Protea Garden, the highlight of the garden is at its best in the winter and spring months (which is May to October in Cape Town, SA). This is the best time to visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden when the proteas, leucadendrons and serrurias are all in bloom. The pincushions put on a colorful display in late winter, spring and early summer (typically August to November). The largest of all the proteas, and South Africa’s national flower, King Protea (Protea cynaroides), flowers mainly during winter and spring (June to Oct). While we missed the blooms, there was still plenty to see at the gardens.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com

Protea compacta 89.jpg
By NanosanchezOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com

When you enter the botanical gardens, you are welcomed by President Mandela! A bust of Nelson Mandela stands beside the pepper-bark tree (Warburgia salutaris) that Nelson Mandela planted on his visit to Kirstenbosch on 21 August 1996. The bust was sculpted by John Francis Gardner and donated in January 2010 to Kirstenbosch by the sculptor. It portrays Nelson Mandela, the president of South Africa with his big smile. It captures his radiance and generosity of spirit the world has grown to love. Mandela’s bust and the tree he planted can be found just as you enter the Visitors’ Centre entrance to the Garden, at the bottom of the main lawn.

Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures

The Sculpture Garden at Kirstenbosch houses a permanent but ever-changing exhibition of African stone sculptures. Each sculpture is a unique original, sculpted by artists in the Shona tradition originating in Zimbabwe. The sculptures depict spiritual, traditional and contemporary themes.  These Mambo stone sculptures are sculpted by both men and women. They use hammer and chisel and metal rasps, finishing with sandpaper for smoothing and polishing with wax polish. It can take a few weeks to a year to complete a work. These were similar to the sculptures that were on exhibit at Dallas Arboretum. (See the ZimSculpt sculptures at the Dallas Arboretum and about the sculptors who came to Dallas all the way from Zimbabwe).

Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com

With the inauguration of the New National Gallery in Zimbabwe in 1957, the quality of African art expressed by the Shona sculptures began to be recognized internationally. The sculptors select their own piece of stone. The stone is usually genuine serpentine or one of its forms like springstone, leopard rock, lepidolite or opal stone. Its color varies from black to brown or green, orange and variegated. The artists believe that the stone has a spirit and life of its own and can feel the sculpture coming out of the stone. The artist is always said to be aware of the stone’s contribution to the finished sculpture.

Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com

The Boomslang

One of my favorite parts of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden was the Bloomsland, the snake-like structure with a tree canopy. The Tree Top Canopy Walkway is a curved steel and timber bridge walkway that winds its way through, and over, the trees of the Arboretum. The Arboretum is situated in a wooded area of the botanical garden between the Protea Garden, Cycad Amphitheatre, the Dell, Mathews Rockery and the Concert Lawn. Inspired by a snake skeleton, and called ‘The Boomslang‘ which means tree snake, it takes you from the forest floor up through the trees. Before we knew it, we found ourselves above the tree canopy enjoying panoramic views of the Kirstenbosch mountains – Devil’s Peak, Castle Rock. You can see the garden below and all the way across Cape Town to the Hottentots Holland mountains beyond.

The Boomslang - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
The Boomslang, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com
The Boomslang Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com

Additional Information

Kirstenbosch also has a nice restaurant inside called Moyo along with a nursery, a gift shop, bookshop, Cycad Amphitheatre, and a Concert Lawn. If you enjoy visiting gardens make sure to add Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden to your Cape Town Itinerary.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town - outsidesuburbia.com

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
Rhodes Drive, Newlands 7735 South Africa

You might also like there other top Gardens: Madam Ganna’s Lotus Garden, Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Spring at the Dallas Arboretum, Fall Colors in Fort Worth Japanese Garden

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