A “back of the house” visit to Kirstenbosch

Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden

 Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden (SUBG) has had a long history of cultivating a variety of ornamental exotic and native plant material. Approaches to collection development were highly dictated by the curator of the time. From development of taxonomic reference collections to enticing exotics aimed to grab people’s interests, the plants that have adorned the landscape have changed with the times and particularities of the curator. Martin Smit, Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden’s newest curator, strives to create collections that span the spectrum from display to conservation to the botanic oddity. With one of the highest species-rich flora in the world present in the West Cape Region, it is hard to imagine a botanic garden in this area that doesn’t strive to aid in its preservation. In an effort to gain greater expertise on the cultivation of the Fynbos flora, the SUBG staff planned a trip to Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden to discuss the practicalities of its horticulture.

It is hard to have a conversation about the flora of South Africa and not have both Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden make its way into the conversation. Kirstenbosch is recognized world-wide as one of the great botanic gardens of our time. Nestled at the base of Table Mountain, its plants, culture and reputation exude all things South African. Kirstenbosch, as a part of the National African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), has a mandate to only cultivate plants native to South Africa. This decree of nativism is represented at its absolute best at Kirstenbosch and executed with finesse and precision. With 194 endemics and 2500 species of the 9000 native to fynbos growing on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula, there is no place in the world more appropriate for representing this region’s unique flora than Kirstenbosch.

With the focus of the trip mainly being propagation and horticultural, the majority of our time was spent touring with different staff through the greenhouses and plant production areas. The following represents pictures of various aspects of the production of growing the genera Protea, Erica, Droseria, Disa and various bulbs.

Proteceae propagation house
Proteceae propagation house
Orothamnus zeyheri- Endangered protea species Over harvested for cut flower industry to near extinction levels
Orothamnus zeyheri – Endangered protea species over harvested for the cut flower industry to near extinction levels
Orothamnus zeyheri- Endangered protea species
Orothamnus zeyheri – Endangered protea species
Bulb greenHouse - Roof is used to minimize rainfall and cultivated species adapt to dry regions
Bulb greenHouse – Roof is used to minimize rainfall and cultivated species adapt to dry regions
Bulk House - sand 50% Compost 50% topped with sand germenated in rows
Bulb Seedling beds – 50% sand 50% fine compost mixture, topped with sand, seedlings planted in horizontal rows

Iridaceae Moraea elegans endangered a

Iridaceae Moraea elegans – Endangered Species
Iridaceae Moraea elegans – Endangered species
Bartholina burmanniana - Spider Orchid
Bartholina burmanniana – Spider Orchid
Erica propagation greenhouse- Erica seed beds and small plug trays used to size up Erica seedlings.  Seeds require dry soil and smoke treatment for germination
Erica propagation greenhouse – Erica seed beds and small plug trays used to size up Erica seedlings. Seeds require dry soil and smoke treatment for germination.
Diversity of Erica genera
Diversity of Erica genera
Erica diversity
Erica diversity
Erica diversity
Erica diversity
Strelitiza reginea ‘Mandelas Gold’ Cultivater, A Kirstenbosch B.G. introduction of the popular landscape plant.
Strelitiza reginea ‘Mandelas Gold’ Cultivater, A Kirstenbosch B.G. introduction of the popular landscape plant.
Cinnamon tree allay
Kamphor  Tree allee
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