Like much of our city’s oldest historical infrastructure, the Company’s Garden was established in 1952 by the Dutch East India Company or VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) as part of the maritime replenishment station based at the Cape. Today this eight-hectare garden is home to more than 8 000 plant species (including the oldest cultivated pear tree in SA, circa 1652) and is one of the city’s best loved attractions.
Stop and smell the roses
Under British colonial rule, the Dutch kitchen-garden layout of this fertile piece of land was overhauled in favour of the Victorian pleasure garden, a style that has been carefully preserved to this day. Wander its various pathways and you’ll come across the water features, koi ponds, aviary and rose garden that are all typical of this era in landscaping. The Garden is also home to a number of statues and war memorials, lending a historical gravitas to its whimsical atmosphere.
Take a stroll along Government Avenue
This broad pedestrian thoroughfare connects the leafy suburb of Gardens to Wale Street in the CBD. A stroll down its shady length takes you past various institutional buildings constructed under British rule during the 19th century, such as the Houses of Parliament and Die Tuynhuys, the president’s residence in Cape Town. Other notable buildings abutting the Garden include the Slave Lodge (now a human-rights-themed museum), the Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium, and the South African National Gallery.
Feed the squirrels
Children will delight in feeding the Garden’s cutest residents, a horde of friendly squirrels that will gently take a proffered peanut from your hand before scurrying up the nearest tree to chatter at you.
Haarlem & Hope
The old tea room has shut up shop and will reopen in October as Haarlem & Hope, serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. The restaurant, run by the popular Madame Zingara Group, takes its name from a Dutch ship, the Nieuwe Haarlem, which ran aground in 1647, eventually leading to Jan van Riebeeck’s decision to set up a replenishment station here.
Photography Gareth van Nelson/HSMimages.co.za