Tour Locations | Green Point Park
LOCATION 3 | Green Point Park
Marijke: Hello, I’m Marijke Honig and I look forward to telling you about the Biodiversity Showcase Garden, as we make our way through it. Every place has a story, and this is no exception. But let’s stop here first, at the sign on your left showing a plan of the Biodiversity Garden, while I give you some background.
The garden aims to introduce you to the extraordinary biodiversity found in and around Cape Town. Look at the plan of the garden - the shape looks rather like an upside down soccer boot – this was quite by coincidence!
The garden is divided into 3 different theme areas: People and Plants, Discover Biodiversity and the Wetland walk.
We’re going to wander through the garden, and I’ll explain the things you see as you go. But take your time to touch, smell and look at the plants, and if I move too fast, you’re welcome to pause the track while you look around.
PHILIP: Facing the sign, walk straight into the garden and veer left directly after the People and Plants sign.
Marijke: This is a food garden where wild plants have been grouped according to how they were cooked and eaten.
Clustered around the first sign are plants which were either picked and eaten raw, or
stewed, to make what is locally known as ‘potjiekos’. This includes a variety of edible leaves, as well as flavourants such as wild garlic and wild rosemary. Look out for the rosemary bush with its grey leaves. Pick some and rub the leaves between your fingers. It smells like a Sunday roast, doesn’t it?
The second group of food plants are ‘uintjies’: edible bulbs, roots or tubers which were either roasted or baked in coals. Many of these are small – the size of a marble – so I always wonder….how long did it take to dig up and collect a bag full, enough to feed the family?
You will only be able to see the uintjie plants in winter and spring. At the beginning of summer the leaves die back and the plants go dormant – so they aren’t visible above ground in summer.
Look out for the metal sculptures of animals dotted between the plants. See if you can spot a gruisbok and a Cape hare near the lake. They’re a reminder that wild game was an important source of protein - hunted and cooked over open fires.
The Medicinal Garden features some of the most popular local Cape remedies. The Khoikhoi used wild plants to treat various ailments, and this knowledge was passed on to the early Settlers. A few species have become important in the pharmaceutical industry, and some are still used today as herbal remedies. These include the Bloublomsalie, and the grey woolly Kooigoed, both of which grow here, in the garden.
Now carry on towards the three wooden-framed structures. Stop when you get there.
This display is intended to evoke life long ago at the Cape and to show how the Khoikhoi relied on biodiversity for everything: for food, shelter, medicines, water, and clothing.
In front of you are old mussel shells, a reminder that the people collected shell fish along the coast. The Khoikhoi were herders who moved around with their livestock. These animals grazed on grassy renosterveld, which is a type of vegetation still found on the lower slopes of Signal Hill. The Khoikhoi lived in mobile huts called matjieshuise. In the past, the framework would have been covered with mats and animal hides.
Now turn back, to get onto the paved pathway. Turn left onto it, and then immediately right into the Discovery trail.