Biodiversity Garden at Green Point Urban Park

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa



Once to the Khoikhoi nomadic herders, the Cape Peninsula was Camissa – place of sweet water, and Table Mountain was Hoerikwaggo – the mountain of the sea. The Tablecloth so often draped over our mountain is dew, two drops of falling mist to every drop of rain. Sweet water, not brak, or drought!

Wire owl, with mice, at Green Point Biodiversity Garden
Wire owl, with mice, at Green Point Biodiversity Garden

All those boring school history lessons about Jan van Riebeeck founding Cape Town to supply passing ships with water and fresh vegetables – suddenly take on meaning. When I was a child, Cape Town still had a weekly mail ship sailing to England. ‘Sustainable use of water is by diverting the Oranjezicht Springs (which were transported underground as storm water that drained into Table Bay). It reminds Capetonians that these natural springs were the main reason the Cape was established in 1652’ – from Design Magazine.

Green Point Urban Park with the Cape Town Stadium
Green Point Urban Park with the Cape Town Stadium

We have the 2010 FIFA World Cup to thank for – ‘the City has been hard at work implementing a variety of greening initiatives that aim to make the event one of the greenest in the world.’ The Green Point Park has a Biodiversity Garden designed by Marijke Honig, who has since written Indigenous Plant Palettes.

Vukani = wake up
Vukani = wake up

Outdoor classroom at Green Point Biodiversity Garden with the Cape Town Stadium beyond
Outdoor classroom at Green Point Biodiversity Garden
with the Cape Town Stadium beyond

The Green Point Urban Park opened in December 2010, but this is my first chance to see it. 'Walking the Cape' was in the park in January 2011 just after it opened.

Ants have a particular role to play in fynbos ecology
Ants have a particular role to play in fynbos ecology

Garden pond for biodiversity
Garden pond for biodiversity

It was good to see the park and garden being used by a wide range of people - an old lady in a wheelchair with her carer, a mother and baby, a woman jogging. People walk slowly and interact with signs and exhibits. There’s a DIY fitness park, and we also saw a grey-haired man deep in conversation with his glossy young East European Personal Trainer. 3 groups of children were using this space as an outdoor classroom – engrossed and intrigued! The demonstration garden sent us home; both reinforced in our existing garden practices, and filled with fresh ideas. Habitat for snakes, lizards, bugs, birds and frogs. Rock piles, dead logs, indigenous plants used formally or more naturally, and always open water.

Steenbok at Green Point Biodiversity Garden
Steenbok at Green Point Biodiversity Garden

The much larger than life art works caught our attention and focused our minds. A silhouette of a steenbok reminded me of leaf ears in Gondwanaland. From Design Magazine in July 2011 – ‘Educational art - beaded wire creatures by Streetwires and steel animal cut outs by Roddy McGuffog.’

Art at Green Point Biodiversity Garden beads and wire, or cut out steel
Art at Green Point Biodiversity Garden
beads and wire, or cut out steel

I have on my bucket list the High Line in New York and the Lurie Garden in Chicago. I can tick off the Green Point Urban Park, surrounded by the Cape Town Stadium, Sea Point’s blocks of flats, Mouille Point lighthouse and beyond Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. But we’ll return to this peaceful green oasis in my city.

Vegetation map of the Cape Peninsula
Vegetation map of the Cape Peninsula

Now we live and garden on renosterveld, clay, in Porterville. Before we had mountain fynbos in Camps Bay, and one day we will have lowland fynbos which ‘used to be widespread on the Cape Flats, in the Fish Hoek valley and around Atlantis. Lowland fynbos has more species threatened with extinction than anywhere else on earth.’ I will be able to grow Protea scolymocephala again.

Analemmatic sundial
Analemmatic sundial

The Analemmatic sundial conceals a lot of elaborate mathematics, but it works. It was … twenty to 10 on this March day.

Green Point Park information

Pictures and text by Diana Studer
of Elephant's Eye (on False Bay)
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over teal blue text,
it turns seaweed red.Those are my links.)

Comments

  1. I love the garden art at this park, especially the turtles (?).

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    Replies
    1. Ladybird and shield bug, MUCH larger than life

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  2. That is a great park with a beautiful instructive garden. I like the 'steenbok' in the rough and the snake and birds of wire and beads. I think it's fun you can grow Proteas again, they are so nice.

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  3. Hi Diana
    Great blog, had to google meaning of fynbos, and it looks just like our coastal health lands in Victoria Australia. Tried to work out where South Africa and Australia where joined in the Gondwana period but decided I wasn't sure as Australia moves sides ways (Antarctica moves down) then goes up to where she is now. Trying to work out whether we had similar vegetation.
    Cheers Sandi

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    Replies
    1. heath lands? Do you share our mediterranean climate there?

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  4. Diana what a wonderful place...I love the history and flora...and I adore that sundial. I cannot wait for your new home and garden so we can learn and read so much more about this fascinating place you call home.

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  5. What an amazing place your Biodiversity Garden is, I always learn something new whenever I go somewhere like that, love the sculptures too! We will be visiting the Isles of Scily ( 30 miles off the SW corner of the UK ) next month and they grow Proteas there at Tresco Abbey Gardens, don't know if they are the same as you will now be able to grow, super plants.

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  6. aloha,

    what a great tour, I enjoyed it and the cool art in the gardens...thanks also to the great historic background info. funny i just did a tour of my little town in Hilo which is known for ocean and waterfalls.

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  7. Green Point Park really is an amazing development by the city. I wish our own municipality would have followed the example when they did the Kings Beach redevelopment here in PE.

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    1. Now we hope Cape Town will follow its own fine example at Princess Vlei below the Elephant's Eye Cave on False Bay. There are vehemently contested plans for yet another shopping mall.

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  8. This looks like a delightful park. I particularly liked the wildlife art, and could happily visit it over and over again. -Jean

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  9. What a lovely park and gardens. The artwork is wonderful and of course the sundial too. I did not think about reading the clock counterclockwise. I have learned something new.

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  10. I enjoyed this post so much, beautiful art, I love the sundial,

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  11. What a fantastic garden Diana. I really loved the artwork. There is something about metal used outdoors, how it ages in the environment. It comes to life for me.

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  12. I'm now delighting my imagination with the thought of putting a steenbok sculpture in some of our local wild ground. That would truly be startling!

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  13. Love that wire owl, and the old guy with grey hair even though I don't see him, has me convinced I need a personal trainer.

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  14. What a wonderful park, Diana, and thanks for the introduction to it. I love those wire and cut-steel sculptures--my Richard would have enjoyed their playfulness and the respect for the creatures they represent. The interpretive sign about plants using ants to disperse their seeds made me smile because that's also true in my high desert shrubland, half a world away. We are connected in more ways than we imagine....

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  15. Quick visit. You ask how I did the teasel picture on my Loose and Leafy post 'Spring and Autumn - Can We Tell The Difference?' http://tinyurl.com/ascu84v

    All I did was face into the light and determine the exposure by the teasel instead of the overall scene. That way the sky got bleached out and only the teasel remained. It was a grey day when I took it and the light low so the result was a little pale. So I slightly increased the saturation and mid-tones in post-editing. (And slightly adjusted the highlights too.)This warmed the image. I prefer to use pictures with no editing but sometimes it's necessary/worth it.

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  16. Lovely post! One can tell from your enthuasism how much you enjoyed this place. Really beautiful and the artwork just fits so well. Love the beaded ones.
    Bridget x.

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  17. It's like a shared back garden for the people in the tower blocks - a wonderful idea. The "Wake-up" poster is worded perfectly.

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    Replies
    1. I'll count your perfect comment as my five hundredth visitor!

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  18. My son said he visited this park for me, as he knew I would enjoy it. He brought back a lovely print for my office. And I do enjoy it, but your tour was much more satisfying, Diana. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. This time, the pleasure is all mine!

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