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|
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|
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|
|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|
|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|
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
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|
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.
The Analemmatic sundial conceals a lot of elaborate mathematics, but it works. It was … twenty to 10 on this March day.of Elephant's Eye (on False Bay)
Pictures and text by Diana Studer
Pictures and text by Diana Studer
- 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.)