2013:  Centenary year celebrates our Botanical heritage

 A visit to the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI’s) Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is high on the list of priorities for both tourists and locals alike. With 2013 seeing both this world renowned Garden and the Botanical Society of South Africa celebrate their centenaries, visitors can expect a year full of commemorative events to mark this milestone.

 Hard to believe that just on 100 years ago the beautiful walkways that we meander along, the exceptional displays and the natural flow of this Garden that we have come to enjoy so much was a neglected, overgrown farm with a ruined homestead, hordes of pigs, thickets of weeds and extensive plantations of alien plants! See http://scenicsouth.co.za//2012/10/a-brief-history-of-kirstenbosch-botanical-garden/

As Kirstenbosch and BotSoc gear up to mark this Centenary year there is much to celebrate on a number of fronts: the creation of Kirstenbosch and its many recreational aspects; the conservation and protection of our biodiversity; the many scientific discoveries that contribute to worldwide knowledge; the commitment to ongoing education about our botanical and biodiversity heritage. Perhaps the four words that best sum this up are: recreation, conservation, research and education.

Today the garden attracts accolades across the world and is an icon for botanical enthusiasts internationally. This most majestic of gardens is at once tranquil, set as it is on the Eastern slopes of Table Mountain, it offers the visitor a snapshot of South Africa’s unique botanical heritage and is an invitation to explore a fascinating World Heritage site.

There would be no Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden without the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc). The land for the Garden was granted on condition that the organisation was formed to support the development of the National Botanical Garden.  With SANBI as the umbrella body overseeing the nine gardens across the country, the protection of our botanical heritage is a cause for celebration world –wide.

From late 2012 visitors to Kirstenbosch Garden can expect to see, enjoy and participate in a number of special events – some of the events planned are as follows;

  • Available now: 2013 Kirstenbosch Centenary Calendar, with lovely pictures of the garden depicting the ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ of the garden; and the Botanical Society’s 2013 calendar celebrating 100 years of Botanical Art
  • November 2012 to April 2013: Old Mutual Summer Sunset Concerts (21 years of concerts);
  • December 2012: A 50m banner featuring historical pictures that will create an interesting and informative timeline of the garden through the last 100 years
  • January 2013 throughout the year:  the BotSoc volunteers will host  a special guided walk which will highlight the Centenarian plants within the garden (also identified and highlighted through a special brochure)and as well as wide variety of other centenary themed walks have been planned to bring the history of the Garden to life;
  • January 2013: Launch of the Kirstenbosch commemorative book published by Struik Nature in association with BotSoc and SANBI; special editions of which are available now already on direct order from Struik.
  • January 21 – 25: UCT Summer School lecture series on Kirstenbosch’s science programmes.
  • April 20/21: Botanical Society’s annual Garden Fair; where people are able to purchase Kirstenbosch Centenarian  and Champion plants as well as the usual impressive range of indigenous plants, in support of fundraising for Kirstenbosch
  • May 2013: Kirstenbosch Chelsea exhibit  at  the Royal Horticultural Society’s  Chelsea Flower Show in the UK which also celebrates 100 years in 2013 – this Centenary exhibit will be recreated in Cape Town later in the year;
  • May 22: National Biodiversity Day will see all nine National Botanical Gardens participating in events;
  • July 1: the Official birthday which will be celebrated with the launch of a commemorative series of SA postage stamps and a VIP occasion;
  • September 2013: Kirstenbosch Biennale of Botanical Art themed “SA Medicinal and Traditional use plants”:
  • All year: the popular Room-to-Grow Wednesday Talks will feature an ‘all star’ line up of well known speakers, most of which will have a Centenary theme.

Added to this will be the popular speciality plant and art shows, a Heritage Trail and additional events which are in the planning stages including a Kirstenbosch Arboretum Tree-Top Walkway, Centenary interpretation throughout the garden, Opening of the Welwitchia  corner house in the Conservatory planned to coincide with the launch of Ernst van Jaarsveld’s book on Welwitchia, a Silver Tree restoration project, a Biodiversity Art Exhibition with schools,  and other outreach programmes.

Kirstenbosch is part of a country-wide network of National Botanical Gardens and the first to be established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa. It was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to conserving a country’s indigenous flora and displays a wide variety of the unique plant life of the Cape Flora, also known as fynbos, as well as plants from all the diverse regions of southern Africa. Those that cannot survive outdoors, such as plants from the arid regions, are grown in the Botanical Society Conservatory. There are over 7 000 species in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many rare and threatened species.

More than just a garden, Kirstenbosch is part of a nature reserve. The 36 hectare landscaped garden is part of a larger estate that contains protected mountainside supporting natural forest and fynbos along with a variety of animals and birds. The Kirstenbosch Estate borders the Table Mountain National Park.

Kirstenbosch lies in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. In 2004 the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – another first for Kirstenbosch, it is the first botanical garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site.

The original National Botanic Gardens of South Africa (NBG) had the mandate to create a national network of botanic gardens throughout South Africa with at least one garden in each ecological region of the country, and to focus on its indigenous flora. As the organisation evolved to what it is today South Africa proudly offers visitors nine National Botanical Gardens across the country with more on the way.   Each garden has a mission to promote the sustainable use, conservation, appreciation and enjoyment of the exceptionally rich plant and animal life of South Africa, for the benefit of all people.

SANBI’s Conservation Gardens & Tourism Division manages SANBI’s network of nine National Botanical Gardens (NBGs), each with their associated tourism infrastructure and conservation estate, and Interpretation Section. ‘Conservation Gardens’ is the international term for botanical gardens that include both landscaped and natural areas within their boundaries.



Issued on behalf of Kirstenbosch NBG by HIPPO Communications.

For further information please contact Beryl Eichenberger  on 021 556 8200 / 082 4906652