South Africa 2012
October 3rd - 16th, 2012

October 9th, 2012

This morning our first visit was to the Durban Botanic Gardens…our guide was wonderful too in explaining the history of the gardens and the plant material. It was a truly wonderful visit.

Durban Botanical Gardens - On the lower slopes of Durban's Berea ridge lies the city's brightest jewel, the Durban Botanic Gardens. It is the city's oldest public institution and Africa's oldest surviving botanic gardens. The Durban Botanic Gardens (DBG) traces its origins to colonial times, when it was founded in 1849 for the introduction and trial of potentially useful commercial crops. The gardens later developed collections of sub-tropical trees, palms and orchids. The Durban Botanic Gardens remains a classic botanic gardens, reflecting the universality of the plant kingdom. It has, for over 100 years, had a fine mixed arboretum of African, Asian and American trees. The Gardens are a few minutes walk from the bustling Warwick Triangle, site of one of the largest retail medicinal plant markets in the country. “Orchids, Palms and Cycads are the main collections of the Gardens, and the focus of present and forthcoming collection efforts. It is our intention to maintain the cosmopolitan flavour of our cycad collection, which is currently ranked among the top ten botanical garden cycad collections in the world  Palm and orchid collections will increasingly focus on documented accessions of African species. World-wide, botanic gardens are changing, as threats to plants and ecosystems become more grave. Ironically, this makes it an exciting time for botanic gardens, as their multiple possible roles in conservation and education are recognised by governments and international agencies. Fundamental to our participation in these new challenges, is the development of conservation-significant plant collections, and professional management of these collections. Unless our collections are curated comparably with those of the world's top gardens, then attempts to increase their educational and scientific value are diminished.”

Then a visit to Tatham Art Gallery

The Gallery owes its origins to Mrs Ada Susan Tatham who collected donations early in 1903 and purchased works in Britain later that same year. After an initial exhibition the collection was first housed in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall. In 1923 the collection was greatly enhanced through the donations of Lieutenant Colonel R.H. Whitwell.

The main body of the Tatham Art Gallery collection can be divided into a number of sections. There is a significant group of British and French work. The British group includes works from the New English Art Club artists and the Bloomsbury Group. The collection also consists of a large number of 20th and 21st century South African art and craft works. Recently the major focus has been on collecting works by artists and crafters from KwaZulu-Natal. An effort has also been made to fill gaps in the historical South African art collection.

There are two significant aspects to the craft collection of the Tatham Art Gallery:
? traditional artifacts and beadwork of Zulu, Mfengu and Xhosa origins. There are also a small number of Zimbabwean works.
? a sizable collection of South African studio ceramics, including traditional Zulu pottery.

And finally the Kwa-Zulu Natal Botanical Gardens where we learned about the role plants play in the lives of the Zulus.

"An ideal Botanical Garden: the Pride of Natal - and of Kew" - Sir Frederick Keeble in the 1930s

The beautiful and tranquil KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden specializes in the conservation of plants from the eastern region of South Africa and of rare and endangered species from elsewhere.

On the 3rd of March, 1874, the Pietermaritzburg Botanical Garden was founded. It was run by the newly formed Pietermaritzburg Botanical Society until 1969, when it was taken over by the National Botanic Gardens of South Africa. In 1991, the Botanical Research Institute and the National Botanical Gardens combined to form the National Botanical Institute. The NBI is now the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) - the present custodians of the Garden.

The Garden's Victorian past is evident in its magnificent specimens of northern hemisphere plants, such as the swamp cypress, tulip trees, camphor trees, plane trees, giant figs and magnolias. One of the finest features of the Garden is the avenue of London Plane trees, which has been stunning visitors since 1908.

The focus of the Garden is to collect, display and promote the conservation of plants of the eastern grasslands, in particular the genera Clivia, Gerbera, Kniphofia and Watsonia.

A section of the Garden is planted specifically to attract birds which, along with other diverse habitats, makes the Garden rich in bird life, with over 150 species recorded.

A special feature is the fascinating Useful Plants Garden, displaying plants used culturally by the Zulu people for medicine, crafts, food and other uses.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row