15 September, 2014

Garden Route Botanical Garden to Birds of Eden

 - gardening for biodiversity 
in Cape Town, South Africa

When the Ungardener was a tour guide, some guests were disappointed, since South Africa calls this the Garden Route. They were expecting gardens, but imagine a Karoo sheep farmer, crossing the mountains, down to the coast. Seeing green, swathes of indigenous forest, rivers running with water!

In 1986 the Garden Route Botanical Garden in George was founded by volunteers. This is not one of South Africa’s 10 national botanical gardens.

Entrance to the Garden Route Botanical Garden 2010

At the entrance our indigenous plants, pruned to Here be Garden shapes. The garden is inviting to walk thru, but sadly in November 2010 vandals had destroyed the interpretive signage.

The Mound

This mound has a double spiral path. One to go up and one to go down. Planted formally in two different sets of blocks of common-not-garden SA plants, divided by borders of Tulbaghia with blue green leaves and misty mauve flowers.

Yellow and burgundy Hibiscus diversifolius
blue Aristea
dusky pink Gazania

Nobody does kitsch like nature - fluffy Barbie pink pine cone.

Tight bud on Protea cynaroides

Protea eximia, 'easily distinguished with its spathulate inner bracts and purple awns' from Marie Vogts' Proteaceae.

Protea eximia

I don't expect ducks to bathe, but we watched this one for minutes ...

Fulvous whistling duck
(Madagascar, C and E Africa, India to Burma, South America)

That colour is unbelievable in life. South African Ibis are white, or grey. 'Trinidad and Tobago's national bird, but they have not bred there for the last 40 years'

Scarlet ibis
(USA, Venezuela to Brazil)

Imagine a bird hide with room service. I would happily have spent the whole afternoon here. Restaurant on a deck over the water. The ‘wall’ towards the water, small island with a dead tree – is a wide meshed net. The birds flying to the tree and paddling on the water are oblivious to their audience.

Douglas the dikkop was hand reared and imprinted, stays on the footpath with people.

South African birds
Spoonbill (BOE call the babies teaspoons), Dikkop
Cape Turtle Dove, Rock/Speckled Pigeon

Crowned Crane, Proudly South African
also Kenya and Uganda

Think Eden Project. 2.17 hectare 'free flight bird sanctuary'. Enclosing a valley with tall forest trees. A stream, with a high up shallow pond for the flamingos and a larger deeper pond with a waterfall where we lunched. They have a closed system for the water. Protecting them from unexpected contamination by runoff from informal housing or agriculture. Created to rehome unwanted birds. Built using unskilled labour from the neighbouring Kurland Village. Workers were trained in high wire construction with not a single Injury on Duty!

Largest free flight bird dome

Do get a guide book when you come in as South African and exotic birds fly freely together. The birds are not quite tame, but they eat happily at many feeding stations which provide seed and chopped fruit. The flamingos get a red mush.

Golden-handed Tamarin father cares for the young, just brings it to the mother to nurse

Golden-handed Tamarin (Amazonia and C America)
Rameron Pigeon (Cameroon, Ethiopia)
Golden Pheasant (Central Asia)
Brown Breasted Barbet (Kenya, Malawi, Moz., Somalia, Tanzania)
Carolina Wood Duck (N America to Cuba)
Common Moorhen (worldwide)

Caribbean Flamingo (Colombia, Mexico, Cuba)

Grey Loerie (South Africa) says Go-Away
Buffoni Green Turaco (extreme West Africa)
Hartlaub's Turaco (East Africa) 

Parrots, unwanted pets who have outgrown their former owners.

Green-naped Lorikeet (Western New Guinea)
moultng Eclectus Parrot (New Guinea and Solomon Islands)
?? and Timneh Grey Parrot (C and W Africa)

Info on birds from the Birds of Eden Identification Guide.

Next Baviaanskloof-and-on-to-Willowmore and the Karoo National Park.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer  
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay 

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  1. such amazing gardens, so sad vandals damaged the signage, the birds are amazing, the colors and exotic shapes, truly unbelievable,,,

  2. Having just read Dan from The Frustrated Gardener's Devon tour, it is such a relief to know there is a good chance that I can visit the wonderful place YOU have been - thanks for sharing! :) See Dan's post at http://frustratedgardener.com/2014/09/14/in-search-of-the-picturesque-hotel-endsleigh-devon/ - he is one of few bloggers I still follow.

    1. I wonder, if this was the garden we saw as we took the train to Cornwall and the Eden Project?
      PS Mitchell's Plain Hospital is on my list, they've just won a landscaping award!

  3. My goodness you do have many exotic birds...and I love that mound planting. But I am smitten with Protea cynaroides...really beautiful!

  4. What an extraordinary place, wish I'd known about it when we drove along the specatular Garden Route ten years ago, though in fairness we had little time to linger, needing to get to Your Bay. That scarlet Ibis is an almost unbelievable colour, but then so are so many SA native plants.

  5. The flamboyance of South African flowers and birds never ceases to amaze me! P. x

  6. So very special, I think it should be listed as one of the eleven. Protea, my daughter bought one of these (house plants) last Christmas with a red cone, by the time June arrived, she said the flower on that plant must last forever. On checking, I found living leaves with a red plastic cone which did look very real.