The Garden Route Botanic Garden in George plays a significant role in preserving and protecting the natural heritage of the area. The garden is dedicated to conserving the diverse ecosystems and species found within the park and the surrounding biomes. This year the Garden is also celebrating a significant milestone- it is turning 25 years old in October 2023!
The aim of the Garden Route Botanical Garden is to conserve, promote and research the rich but threatened floral diversity of the Southern Cape region and now exists to enhance awareness and understanding of the surrounding natural beauty, its biodiversity and uniqueness as well as the socioeconomic value of our Floral Heritage.
One of the main ways the GRBG contributes to our natural heritage is through the conservation of biodiversity. The Garden encompasses a range of habitats, including indigenous forests, wetlands, fynbos, and coastal dunes. These habitats support a wide variety of plant and animal species, including threatened and endemic species. By preserving and managing these ecosystems, the GRBG ensures the long-term survival of these species and contributes to the overall biodiversity of the region.
In addition to biodiversity conservation, the GRBG also plays a vital role in rescuing critical plant species. These are usually fetched from surrounding areas where development is taking place. The garden receives water from important water catchment areas and river systems, which are essential for maintaining the water supply to the garden for irrigation. By implementing sustainable management practices, such as controlling invasive alien species, the Garden helps to safeguard these valuable resources for future generations.
Moreover, the GRBG provides opportunities for research and education. Scientists and researchers can study the Garden’s ecosystems and species to gain a better understanding of how they function and how to better protect them. They can also make use of the on-site Herbarium to do research on all the plant that grow in the Southern Cape. The Garden also offers educational programs and interpretive materials to visitors, which includes weekly visits by school groups, raising awareness about the value of the natural heritage and the importance of conservation.
The GRBG also supports the local economy and community. Tourism activities within the park, such as hiking, birdwatching, night and Sunday markets, night life guided tours and medicinal plant lectures, attract visitors and generate revenue for the area. The parkrun also starts and ends every Saturday in the Garden and attracts between 300 (winter) to 1200 (summer) attendees. A new Italian restaurant will soon open its doors at the Garden Route Botanical Garden and offer a wide variety of food and drink options. It will also be dog friendly.
All of this, in turn, creates employment opportunities and economic growth for local businesses and residents. By promoting sustainable tourism practices, the Garden ensures that these economic benefits can be enjoyed while minimizing any negative impacts on the environment.
Overall, the Garden Route Botanical Garden in George contributes to our natural heritage by preserving biodiversity, protecting natural resources, promoting research and education, and supporting the local economy. It is a vital asset for the region, ensuring that future generations can experience and appreciate the natural beauty and ecological importance of the area.
The Garden is currently busy with a 2-year reconstruction program to bring the Garden Route Botanical Garden to its full potential. This includes:
- A new ablution block.
- Reconstruction of the dam wall.
- Repairing of all roads.
- A new entrance into the Garden.
- Children’s play area with a jungle gym.
- Improved security (solar panel lights, movement detection camaras and electronic monitoring systems).
The 25th anniversary celebration is planned for 18 November 2023 at the Hawthorn Boutique Hotel and will include a dinner, presentation about the Garden and a very interesting talk by one of the previous Curators of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. The Carpe Musicam Quartet will entertain the attendees with some beautiful music from popular musicals.
THE MUSHROOM MEANDER TRAIL
Of the 16 hectares belonging to the GRBG, about 6.5 hectares have been rehabilitated into natural forest. Here, the Garden has made an 800-metre-long trail, which has been named “the Mushroom Meander Trail”. This is a good way in which to explore the forest, with lots of information signage along the trail. This trail is also wheelchair friendly.
WATER SUPPLY BURROWS
Part of the original water supply burrows run through the Garden. For years it was the only water supply to the town. Some of the elements of the supply system in the Garden have been restored to a functional capacity (see below).
Can you see the side profile of a face (King George III?) – especially in the reflection in the water?
To learn more about events taking place at the Garden Route Botanical Garden, please visit our events page for the latest information.