10 great botanical gardens around the world: readers’ tips

10 great botanical gardens around the world: readers’ tips

Please note that our very own Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens feature in this post.  The entrance fees are quoted in pounds. The Gaurdian Parks and green spaces From the tropics to the Arctic Circle, these gardens are full of colour, wildlife, scents, and, sometimes, spectacular views and great cafes, too Guardian readers Thu 16 Aug 2018 06.30 BSTLast modified on Fri 17 Aug 2018 16.18 BST  Outback allure … Arid Lands Botanical Garden, South Australia Winning tip: Port Augusta, South Australia The 250-hectare Arid Lands Botanical Garden on the coast in Port Augusta (three hours’ drive north of Adelaide) made for a wonderful visit. Not only is it free of charge, there is a cafe serving great fresh food and some fantastic Australian wine, too. The gardens are a joy to wander, with plenty of bird life, amphibians and lizards, and ideas on how to make a colourful garden using as little water as possible. There are six specialist gardens, views to the Flinders Range and grey mangroves, emu and turkey bushes plus very rare plants. It’s amazing how beautiful the edge of the outback can be. • Free, aalbg.sa.gov.au Anne Medcalf Cape Town, South Africa FacebookTwitterPinterest Tree canopy walkway in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town. Photograph: Bradley Hebdon/Getty Images Kirstenbosch Gardens is one of the world’s greatest botanical gardens. It’s on the slopes of Table Mountain, whose streams water the unique fynbos heathland, one of the world’s richest botanical kingdoms. Spotted eagle owls nest in the camphor trees; prehistoric cycads shade Lady Anne Barnard’s bath; and a superb raised walkway known as the boomslang gives jaw-dropping views across False Bay. Guinea fowl squawk around the sculpture garden, native flowers protea and strelitzia light up the flowerbeds, attracting colourful sugarbirds and sunbirds. A tearoom serves all-day breakfasts, and lunches of local treats such as Cape Malay bobotie (a curry-type dish) for well under £10. • £3.60 adult £1 children, sanbi.org June Kurtz Tromsø, Norway FacebookTwitterPinterest Rhododendron in the Arctic alpine botanic garden in Tromsø. Photograph: Alamy More than 200 miles into the Arctic Circle, Tromsø’s Botaniske Hage is a mid-summer wonder that explodes into colour during the 24-hour daylightfrom mid-May to late-July. It is the world’s most northerly botanical garden, with a landscaped rock garden and a huge variety of plants overseen by the university since 1994, including colourful native, Himalayan and Patagonian varieties. The garden has examples of a buttercup that grows wild only on Svalbard and is one of the rarest plants in Europe. The garden meanders up the hill just to the north of Tromsø with views over the fjord, and has a cafe serving the most remarkable waffle topping ever encountered (Norwegian brown cheese with plum jam). This was a rest day for us after this year’s midnight marathon...

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Ireland in late May.

Ireland in late May.

Leonie Twentyman Jones and Margaret Richards visited Ireland in late May.  It took a while for Leonie to put pen to paper when they got back to Knysna, but her account of their visit was worth  waiting for.  ~Esther A journey through the Irish countryside in late spring and early summer is a magical experience. The fields and hillsides are an unbelievably vibrant green (particularly for drought-bemused South Africans), dotted with plump white sheep and edged with hawthorn trees (Crataegus monogyna) covered in delicate white blossom as well as swathes of the ubiquitous bright yellow gorse (Ulex europaeus). Ancient stone walls are brightened up by little clumps of deep purple campanula which have the ability to grow in the smallest of cracks.   Narrow country lanes in Connemara have thick wild hedgerows of red fuchsia (the hardy Fuchsia magellanica, originally from Chile and Argentina, but now naturalised in the west of Ireland) and pink Rhododendrons (Rhododendron ponticum). Originally introduced to England in the early 1800s, Fuchsias were so beloved by Victorian gardeners that they took them everywhere they settled. It is believed that Quaker families who came from England in the 1840s to assist the Irish who were battling with the devastating Potato Famine could have brought Fuchsia plants with them. The pink Rhododendron, introduced to England in the eighteenth century, probably from Spain, was brought to Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century by landed gentry who wanted to beautify their estates and also to grow shrubs that provided cover for game birds. So while they are very beautiful when in bloom, these plants form high, dense evergreen thickets and have spread into the countryside where they are causing huge problems to indigenous plants. The stark, desolate, almost otherworldly plateau known as the Burren (from the Irish word boireann meaning ‘stony place’) in County Clare — visited by tourists mainly to see its ancient megalithic remains — is home to over 70% of Ireland’s indigenous plant species.  In little pockets of pasture amongst the terraces of cracked limestone one can find a surprising variety of plants — including ferns, orchids, such as the Early Purple (Orchis mascula),  clumps of little yellow primroses (Primula vulgaris), Dog-violets (Viola riviniana ), Herb-robert (Geranium robertarium), and the Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) with its yellow pea flower.  These are some of the early spring flowers we saw — seemingly undeterred by the strong winds.   by: Leonie Twentyman-Jones Photos supplied by Leonie and Margaret Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in...

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PICS: Parts of SA’s Namaqualand is blooming beautiful, already!

PICS: Parts of SA’s Namaqualand is blooming beautiful, already!

2018-07-27 16:30 – Selene Brophy After a couple of late years of blooming due to unprecedented droughts in certain areas,  South Africa’s Namaqualand appears right on track this year for Mother Nature’s most spectacular extravaganza’s. The spring carpets phenomenon, which unfolds in the Northern Cape through to the West Coast of the West Cape form early August through to end of September, has already begun. However on, Friday 27 July, pictures of Nieuwoudtville shows the Northern Cape dorpie is awash with orange daisies already. Take a look. Hendrik van Zijl posted to pictures of the area surrounding his guesthouse Hendrikshof to Facebook saying, “Photos were taken a few hours ago today Thursday, 26. In all the years I have never seen such a show of flowers all over town. This needs no further description or elaboration. The flowers say it all.” (Photo: Hendrik van Zijl, Hendrikshof Guesthouse) (Photo: Hendrik van Zijl, Hendrikshof Guesthouse) (Photo: Hendrik van Zijl, Hendrikshof Guesthouse) (Photo: Hendrik van Zijl, Hendrikshof Guesthouse) Experience the flowers: The timing of this spring flower show is usually crucial for those want to road trip, while stopping to smell the flowers. According to SANParks, early August and September, is the best time to catch how the dusty valleys of Namaqualand are transformed in to a floral wonderland. “The semi-desert Succulent Karoo biome, Namaqualand is home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world and more than 1 000 of its estimated 3 500 plant species are found nowhere else on earth. TRAVEL PLANNING: #SARoadTrips: The hidden magic of the Northern Cape “When compared to regions with similar semi-arid environments, the richness of this biome is exceptional” . <p ‘helvetica=”” arial,=”” helvetica,=”” neue’,=”” sans-serif;font-size:13px;”=”” segoe=”” tahoma,=”” ui’,=””>In 2017 The Telegraph name South Africa’s spring blooms as one of the 20 greatest destinations on Earth for flowers, alongside other spectacular sites like Italy’s Amalfi Coast – famous for its bright-coloured bougainvillaeas – and Holland and Belgium’s stunning tulip fields. WATCH: SA’s Namaqua paradise in World’s Best Flower regions PLUS 19 Others you need to see ALSO SEE: Six ways to have a memorable road trip  Plan your trip: Stay in luxury amidst the flowers in the temporary Namaqua Flowers Beach Camp. Walk the Skilpad and Korhaan walking trails that offer great views of the spectacular display. Find Your Escape with our Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel wanderlust directly to your mobile. SHARE: Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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Visiting Gondwana Game Reserve

Visiting Gondwana Game Reserve

We were treated to a two day stay at Gondwana Game Reserve where  we experienced exciting game sightings, delicious food, beautiful views and wonderful companionship.  Nicky and Jon were the perfect hosts;  gracious, attentive, and willing to share their experiences of Gondwana  for which we are very grateful. This Eden  is named after “Gondwanaland”, the original landmass that existed one hundred and twenty million years ago from which Africa was formed. The Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountain ranges that surround the reserve are the last visible evidence of the former Gondwanaland after the continent split to how we know it today. Gondwana Private Game Reserve provides an authentic African Safari Experience less than a two-hour drive from Knysna, the 11,000-hectare (26,000 acre) Private Game Park offers a distinctive and luxurious malaria-free Safari Holiday destination with free-roaming Big 5 Safari Animals (lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino, and leopard). Herds of wildlife including eland, giraffe, hippo, cheetah and zebra can be seen on the majestic landscape with awe-inspiring views of the Langeberg and Outeniqua Mountains in every direction. Indigenous Fynbos vegetation cloaks the undulating valleys, adding vivid colour and interest to a Big 5 Game Viewing and wilderness experience. This Exclusive Safari Park offers guests attentive service, wholesome African Cuisine, inspiring interiors, expert Game Rangers, and an array of activities including Big 5 Game Drives, Mountain Biking, Hikes, Africology spa treatments, and the popular Junior Ranger program.       The Gondwana Conservation Foundation (GCF) has been established as a non profit organisation to contribute to the conservation of South Africa’s threatened and endangered wildlife and vegetation relevant to the Southern Cape of South Africa through active management, training and skills development of the local people. The Southern Cape of South Africa is home to one of the most critically endangered vegetation types on earth (Fynbos) and has a high unemployment rate within the region. The foundation’s ultimate mission is to use management, education, training and community involvement to create employment for the local community while actively protecting the endangered wildlife and vegetation within the region. The foundation has created independent initiatives focusing on specific projects. The funding for these initiatives has been ring-fenced allowing for people and organizations to participate in their key area of focus. Each initiative will report back to the foundation and its funders independently. The foundation’s fundamental point of difference is the feedback to the donors allowing the donors to know exactly where their funds have gone to and what has been achieved. The foundation uses cutting edge technology and social media platforms for this communication. Click here to go to Gondwana Conservation Foundationwebsite. The Gondwana Conservation Foundation (GCF) focuses on the rehabilitation and promotion of biodiversity for all ecosystems...

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Dune Surprises

Dune Surprises

Contributor: Leonie Twentyman Jones Photos: Margaret Richards The beach walk from Brenton to Buffels Bay is one of the most popular and well-loved walks in the area. It is particularly rewarding at spring low tide when the sand is hard and easy for walking or cycling.  There are always interesting sea creatures to observe, as described by Esther in her ‘Brenton to Buffels Beachcombing’ in 2015.  A pair of Black African oystercatchers is usually busy foraging or the female nesting (depending on the season), as are a pair of tiny White-fronted plovers, their little legs a blur as they scurry across the sand. Once we saw a small group of visiting Sanderlings hunting for crustaceans on some rocks in the surf. The beach changes constantly. Winter storms cause the sand to be scoured out, exposing the ‘dinosaur’s spine’ of rocks with its fascinating shapes and pools. Then the next storm puts all the sand back and the rocks are hidden once more. You never know what you will find. Children slide down the steep back dunes, dash in and out of the waves, or play on the beach. Fishermen stand patiently hoping for success, but seem not really to mind if they never catch a thing. But few people explore the low front dunes halfway along the bay. Here one finds glimpses of another world. Intriguing tracks of little creatures can be seen, perhaps a mongoose, some sort of small buck, and possibly a little mouse. Weird and wonderful flowers emerge in spring.  The spectacular crimson or pink flower of the Cat’s claw (Hyobanche sanguine) pokes straight out of pure beach sand. No leaves or stem are visible, so one wonders how it survives in such a harsh environment.   It is actually a root parasite so draws its nourishment from the roots of a host plant, notably Passerina shrubs (also known as Gonnabos), to which it has attached itself. The origin of its Afrikaans name ‘Wolwekos’ is unknown but, according to botanist John Manning, may refer to the flower’s resemblance to scraps of fresh carrion. Then there are delicate little white nemesias with dark mauve veins in its throat;  creepers such as Monkey rope (Cynanchum obtusifolium) twine around the other plants, producing clusters of little pale greenish flowers and seeds suspended from a parachute of fine white hairs ready to fly off in the slightest breeze.  Healthy plants of mauve Wild cineraria (Senecio elegans) emerge from the ash which has been washed down from the burnt hillside above. It is interesting to discover that the common names of many of the plants growing on the dunes have the names of vegetables, perhaps indicating that they were eaten by the...

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Going to France this year?

Going to France this year?

Garden Amusement Park You can find it in Angers, France TEXT BY LYNSEY EIDELL  AT CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER Posted May 31, 2017 Courtesy of Terra Botanica Green thumbs might want to consider booking a trip to France soon, because a garden-themed amusement park is now open in the western city of Angers. Terra Botanica, the plant-inspired attraction, combines the beauty of flora and fauna with the excitement and thrills of a typical theme park. Located about two-and-a-half hours from Paris, the lush amusement park is an earth science class on steroids. Naturally, there are thousands of plants to explore—275,000 different plant species, to be exact. The vegetation can be explored in a variety of ways: through the extreme climate greenhouses (the mist greenhouse alone features more than 2,000 different types of orchids), down one of several themed paths (such as “On the Spice Road”), or within the “smart” garden (that teaches how to solve common gardening problems). But making the experience more exciting for both budding botanists and gardening novices alike are the rides and attractions. (Think Disney meets the botanical gardens.) There’s a hot air balloon ride that provides an aerial view of the entire park. There’s a “Journey in a Nutshell,” which is exactly as it sounds: a ride where you sit in a half nutshell and travel throughout the park’s treetops. There’s a hologram experience, a 4-D adventure, and a trip down the Loire in a miniature barge. The park even throws in some Jurassic Park vibes with its Origins of Life garden—where the occasional T. rex that might pop out. Check out some of the photos, below: Courtesy of Terra Botanica Courtesy of Terra Botanica Courtesy of Terra Botanica Courtesy of Terra Botanica Terra Botanica is open every day except Saturday, and tickets start at €12 Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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