This year, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden celebrates its Centenary. The Botanical Society of South Africa, formed as a civil society in June 1913 to support the establishment of Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, also celebrates its Centenary. During this milestone year, the Kirstenbosch Centenarians, some of the plants that have survived over the last 95 to 100 years, are taking centre stage both in Kirstenbosch and at BotSoc’s annual Garden Fair.
Many Centenarians are still growing where they were planted all those years ago. Some have propagated themselves vegetatively or by seed, while others have been propagated, or lifted and divided by Kirstenbosch Horticulturists, ensuring these original plants continue through their offspring. You can get to know these old-timers of Kirstenbosch by picking up the free Centenarians brochure at the Information Desk in the Visitors’ Centre and following the marked trail through the Garden.
‘Kirstenbosch Champion’ is a term Kirstenbosch horticulturists apply to selected plants that for various reasons stand out from other similar plants by virtue of their beauty, impact in the horticultural industry, great rarity or association with famous persons. Some of these plants are superior forms found in the wild while others have been improved by selection and breeding. A good example is Strelitzia reginae (Crane flower), which was originally collected in 1936. Yellow flowered forms of this plant are known in horticulture, but their colour is not stable. John Winter, Curator of Kirstenbosch from 1979-1999, began a project to increase the yellow-flowered stock. It took him almost 15 years of careful selection and hand-pollination and, by 1994, he was able to introduce a stable form of yellow Strelitzia reginae to horticulture. It was released and traded under the name ‘Kirstenbosch Gold’ until 1996, when the then National Botanical Institute (now SANBI) was granted permission to re-name it in honour of Nelson Mandela, as ‘Mandela’s Gold’.
To celebrate both Centenaries, the theme of the 2013 Kirstenbosch Garden Fair and Indigenous Plant Sale is Kirstenbosch Centenarians and Champions where cuttings, seedlings or offsets of Centenarians that were planted in Kirstenbosch at its inception, and specially selected Champions, will be on sale. Look out for some exciting new releases as well.
The 38th Kirstenbosch Garden Fair and Indigenous Plant Sale takes place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 April 2013 from 09h00-16h00 in the grounds of the Stone Cottages on the corner of Kirstenbosch Drive and Rhodes Drive. This annual fundraising event is organized by the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society, in close cooperation with the Horticultural and Admin staff at Kirstenbosch. Funds raised are used to support Kirstenbosch Garden projects and the event is a showcase for South Africa’s indigenous flora.
For more information, visit www.botsoc-kirstenbosch.org.za or call 021-671 5468.
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