Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Walk in the Park. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

People from the rest of the country sometimes tell us who live in the Cape that we are a bit insular, aloof. We always respond that it’s not true, Capetonians are just always busy, there is too much to do here. Just ask if you can join us! But being busy means that we often do not get to some of our favourite places and Kirstenbosch is definitely one of them. While we were on holiday, we made a list of places we wanted to visit and this was at the top. So, on a warm Tuesday, we headed there to take advantage of the Pensioners' free entry, free for local pensioners every Tuesday

We had been delayed that morning, so we arrived just in time for lunch and went straight to The Tearoom. It is where we have been going for much of our lives in Cape Town. Run by Pamela Shippel, you know you are always going to get good food, nothing fancy, but well made food. We queued for a table; it didn’t take long
Lynne chose a Smoked Trout on Cream Cheese sandwich and all the sandwiches come with chips or salad
She loves the slightly healthier sweet potato chips. It came on ciabatta bread and was huge and very good value
The local trout is always good, the quantity generous
John ordered the juicy hamburger which comes with crisply fried chips, crisp onion rings and is dressed with a barbecue sauce,
a slice of onion, lettuce, tomato and pickles. Excellent char-grilled flavour
Our bill with service. The day was becoming rather hot, so we ordered beers to quench our thirst
Time then for our walk. in bloom at this time of the year, including the indigenous flowering Cape Chestnut Tree
The shade was very welcome and we headed for the Otter pond. The gardens are well adapted for wheelchairs
It was a hot afternoon and we could hear the very summery sound of cicadas singing 
A view of the forest on the mountain behind us and a trace of the pathway that can take you walking up Skeleton Gorge
and onto the back of Table Mountain
An indigenous flower that is blooming everywhere in the Cape at this time of the year, the Agapanthus
Looking up to the Buttresses at the back of Table Mountain
We walked up the hill to the start of the Tree Canopy Walkway, known as the Boomslang
Next time, we will try to find the way to the bottom end; the hot climb up the hill is not something to contemplate on a hot day,
especially after lunch
And having reached the end, we turned around and headed back to the beginning as we wanted to seek the coolth of the Dell where you find Lady Anne Barnard’s Bath. You pass this amazing Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) tree which is a more than a hundred years old. It was a gift to Professor Harold Pearson, the first director of Kirstenbosch, 1913-1916, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Kew tree originally came from La Mortola in Italy. The Kirstenbosch specimen arrived, as a seed, on 21 August 1916. The sapling that was raised in the nursery was planted next to Pearson’s grave in 1919. The grave is next to the tree and bears his epitaph: ‘If ye seek his monument, look around you’. Very moving
We met a family seeking the Dell and guided them down through the amazing Cycad gardens
In the shade and near the brook are many Streptocarpus plants which thrive there
Lynne is very fond of this plant and one went home from the nursery to grow in our house
Also known as the Cape Primrose, it comes in white and all shades of pink mauve and purple
It is a lovely place for picnics. Next time
And on the way back to the car, we came across a huge bed of Pineapple Lilies,
Eucomis, another species which is indigenous to South Africa. Not related to pineapples, but to the Asparagus family
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