Cape Town’s green gardens and parks

You could truthfully say that the eight-hectare Company's Garden, at the top end of Adderley Street, was once a glorified vegetable patch – a far cry from today’s immaculately laid-out lawns and indigenous flower beds.

Originally created in the 1650s to grow fresh produce for passing trade ships, it no longer supplies potatoes and carrots, but you will find a Delville Wood Memorial Garden, statues, a fish pond, rose garden, herb and succulent garden and many interesting large trees … oh, and the country’s oldest pear tree, planted in 1652! Open daily December to February 7.30am to 8.30pm, and March to November 7am to 7pm.
 
View of Table Mountain from the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Image courtesy <a href='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kirstenbosch_-_View_from_the_Botanical_Gardens.jpg'>Wikimedia Commons, user Didier B</a> View of Table Mountain from the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, user Didier B
 
Drive away from the city towards Newlands along Rhodes Drive, to the first botanic garden in the world to be included in a natural World Heritage Site. Open September to March from 8am to 7pm daily and April to August from 8am to 6pm daily, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden occupies the eastern slopes of Table Mountain – a pretty big garden at 36 hectares. Follow its many pathways to explore the Cape’s fascinating and endemic fynbos (fine bush) species, the fragrance garden, Peninsula garden, sculpture garden, rockery, cycad amphitheatre and many rare and threatened plants from across Southern Africa – 7 000 in all.
 
Kirstenbosch lies in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Entry is R42 for adults and R10 for children.
 
De Waal Park. Image courtesy <a href='http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:De_Waal_Park_Gardens_Cape_Town_-_View_2.JPG'>Wikimedia Commons user DebbieLouise</a> De Waal Park. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons user DebbieLouise
De Waal Park in Upper Orange Street, Gardens is the perfect spot to chill away from the summer heat of the City Bowl. Take time out to join local kids, dog lovers and retirees under the trees, or to catch up on your reading.
 
Stop off at the Victorian fountain and restored Edwardian bandstand, where regular jazz and classical concerts are hosted free to the public. Open free of charge from September to March from 6.30am to 8pm, and April to August from 7am to 6pm.
 
Looking towards the Green Point Stadium and Signal Hill, the Green Point Urban Park is a funky green lung linking Cape Town, the Waterfront and the Atlantic seaboard. Offset your indulgence in Cape Town’s awesome food by doing some cycling and outdoor gym in the fitness park, or catch up on the latest art exhibition or flea market located in different areas of this 10-hectare space, which is open daily from 7am to 7pm.
 
Green Point Urban Park. Image courtesy <a href='http://www.capetownpartnership.co.za/green-point-urban-park-open-to-public/'>Cape Town Partnership</a> Green Point Urban Park. Image courtesy Cape Town Partnership
 
Woodstock's three-hectare Trafalgar Park once formed part of a defence line against British invaders at the Cape of Good Hope. Today the only “invaders” are local children and resident squirrels, but the remains of a French “redoubt” or fort – declared a national monument in 1968 – can still be seen in the park. Inside the fort is an old kiln used to bake bricks. Find it on the corner of Victoria Road and Searle Street. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, entry is free.
 
In just four hectares Claremont’s Arderne Gardens – a national monument – support one of the country’s richest collections of exotic trees. Shady glades and a Japanese garden make it a popular weekend destination for wedding parties, while kids love to feed resident ducks and fish. Look out for the garden’s six champion trees, including a massive Moreton Bay Fig. Open from 9am to 6pm daily.
 
If you find yourself in Cape Town during the festive season, don’t miss out on carols by candlelight at Rondebosch Park, or the popular potters’ market and craft markets on the second Saturday of every month. This open park features magnificent avenues of oak, plane and pine trees, and a variety of flora. If you’re thinking picnics, there’s no better place near town. Find it at the corner of Campground Road and Sandown Road, and visit from 8am to 6pm daily for free. 
 
The Khayelitsha Wetlands Park. Image courtesy <a href='http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/parks/Pages/KhayelitshaWetlandsPark.aspx'>Cape Town.Gov</a> The Khayelitsha Wetlands Park. Image courtesy Cape Town.Gov
Celebrated for its famous open-air theatre, Wynberg’s Maynardville Park is also a popular gathering place for the local community. Bird lovers should take a bird checklist and binoculars, for there are many species that make use of the 11-hectare park’s open lawns and trees. Open daily from 8am to 6pm, you’ll find it on the corner of Church and Wolfe Street.
 
Relaxation and recreation are the order of the day at Wynberg Park, a 22-hectare open space where the City’s Come and Play teams organise fun and games for small children, while their parents relax and take in the view. The park, also the site of outdoor concerts, is beautifully landscaped and features waterways, lawns, trees and flower displays. The silvertree (Leucodendron argenteum), once prevalent here, is a perennial attraction, as are many conifers, while pastel displays of hydrangeas are a summer highlight. A white marble fountain commemorating the coronation of Kind Edward VII is also worth a visit any time between 8am and 6pm daily.
 
If you’re a rose lover, the Durbanville Rose Garden is an absolute must. With more than 500 varieties and 4 500 rose bushes on show, including the “Fairest Cape” rose, this garden is a welcome assault on the senses. Stop for tea and scones (with strawberry jam and cream, of course) among the roses at the park tearoom on summer Sundays between 8am and 6pm. Access is free.
 
The latest addition to Westridge Gardens in Mitchells Plain is a rose garden, which adds to the enjoyment of this family-orientated green space. Residents of Mitchells Plain make use of free access to the gardens for family picnics and community concerts, while the youngsters make good use of a convenient skate park. Open daily from 8am to 6pm, Westridge Gardens sits on the corner of Morgenster Avenue and De Duin Avenue.
 
The Khayelitsha Wetlands Park. Image courtesy <a href='http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/parks/Pages/KhayelitshaWetlandsPark.aspx'>Cape Town.Gov</a> The Khayelitsha Wetlands Park. Image courtesy Cape Town.Gov
An outstanding example of sustainable development, the Khayelitsha Wetlands Park between Lansdowne and Hlanga Roads was identified and landscaped as a vital conservation region for birdlife, particularly herons and migrant species. Open from 8am to 4pm daily, this 45-hectare park serves both as a practical and welcome open space for the disadvantaged residents of Khayelitsha and a site with the potential for environmental education, ecotourism and associated economic benefits. Make sure your visit includes a tour of various African mosaic murals and water features. Playground equipment and a skate park for kids are an added attraction, and entry is free. 
 
Along the False Bay coast near Muizenberg, Zandvlei Recreational Park’s 159-hectare, wetland, river system and estuary offers a respite from suburban surrounds. Perfect for canoeing, sailing, windsurfing and fishing, the park also has barbecue facilities and picnic spots to ensure that a whole day may be enjoyed in comfort. This venue is best suited to watersport enthusiasts and nature lovers of all ages. Open from 8am to 6pm daily, you’ll find it along Promenade Road in Muizenberg.

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