12 Aug Commune with nature at the Company’s Garden
Cape Town’s rich and dynamic culture finds its roots within the tapestry of the Company´s Garden.
The company gardens like many great things began with a twist of fate. After the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship the ‘Nieuw Haarlem’ wrecked in Table Bay in the 1640’s, it’s crew found refuge in the Cape and later conveyed the suitability of the area for the construction of a refreshment station. By 1652 Jan Van Riebeek, along with 3 ships, landed in the Cape to start this refreshment station. The journey from Europe to the East was quite a treacherous one and a halfway stop at the Cape provided much needed supplies for the trip. And so, the Company’s Garden was born.
Whilst strolling through the garden you’ll will notice the wide variety of plants, shrubs and trees to be found here. This is because the garden has gone through many changes in purpose over the years and remnants of each shift (fruit and vegetable, scientific, pleasure, botanical, leisure) have culminated to form the beautiful modern garden that Cape Town boasts with today.
One of the most interesting parts of the Company Garden is the Saffron Pear tree. Believed to be all that remains of a circle of pear trees planted in the time of Van Riebeek, it is possibly the oldest cultivated tree in South Africa. Showing its age, the tree needed to be bolted, braced and a fence (iron railing) was erected for its protection. For a tree that has stood the test of time and witnessed all of the Cape’s trials and triumphs, I think a little bit of TLC is well deserved. Despite all this, come spring time you will find it adorned by white flowers and if they survive our South Easter, edible fruit is harvested in autumn.
Around 7 years after Van Riebeek’s’ arrival, the first wine was pressed in the Cape. At the same time, first Dutch roses blossomed as well. Opposite the VOC Vegetable Garden, the Rose Garden designed and built in 1926 and has allowed for a variety of colours and scents to be enjoying by those visiting the Garden. Due to limited water supplies it has been transformed into a water-wise Fynbos Garden, reviving the indigenous influences of the area.
The Garden also has a host of interesting wildlife. Within the Aviary you can find Cape Turtle Doves, Quails, Laughing Doves and other pretty birds found in the area. As you stroll through the garden you’ll come across families of Egyptian Geese, Hadeda’s, Pied Crows and Hartlaub’s Gulls and Pigeons. Our most interesting fury friend would be the Grey Squirrel. Like most of the other animals that have made the garden their home, the squirrels are quite tame and might even approach you. If you’re very lucky you may even see one of the Albino Squirrels that the Garden accommodates!
Whether you want to enjoy the fragrant Fynbos Garden, float among the trees in the jumbo-sized Weaver nests, take in the majesty of the Old Saffron Pear tree or simply find a spot on the grass and enjoy the sun, sights and sounds under the backdrop of the iconic Table Mountain, The Company’s Garden is the place for you.
Registered Tourist Guide WC 11104
Site: Rregional/Povincial:Western Cape &Gauteng
Site: Port Elizabeth