RHS Chelsea Flower Show

South Africa in Bloom

41 years at the Chelsea Flower Show

SANBI-Kirstenbosch’s 41st annual entry to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show (CFS) will place the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden – A Gateway to the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve World Heritage Site on centre stage at the exhibit.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay was bequeathed to the National Botanical Gardens, now SANBI, in 1958. Uniquely located within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, and situated in the centre of the coastal fynbos where the flora is at its richest, this beautiful garden encompasses mountain slopes with wind-clipped heathlands, deep gorges with relict forests, flats and marshes with restios, sedges and bulbs, as well as dunes adjacent to the beach with specialised salt-adapted plants.

The Garden is renowned for its waterfalls and amber pools. It showcases more than 700 species of indigenous South African plants and over 100 species of birds. The main fynbos families (proteas, ericas and restios) are present as well as other important families such as irises, daisies and orchids. The Garden boasts red disa (Disa uniflora) in its natural habitat as well as South Africa’s national flower, the king protea (Protea cynaroides) and the Prince of Wales heath (Erica perspicua).

Ten hectares are immaculately cultivated with wheelchair-friendly paths winding between banks of fynbos plants, wetland and dune displays and cool African montane forests.

Another 190 hectares have been left undisturbed and offer several kilometres of attractive mountainside and riverine nature trails taking between one and four hours to walk. Trails in the Garden include a mountain slope Fynbos trail, the longer zig-zag border trail takes you into the core of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, and a trail (requiring a permit) along a stream up to the waterfall in Leopard’s Gorge.

The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve , the Cape Floral Kingdom’s model sustainable living environment for all, is just an hour out of Cape Town towards the southern tip of Africa. In addition to its natural beauty and floral diversity, it is also regarded by many as the world’s greatest biodiversity hot-spot. A zig-zag ribbon of narrow coastal plain, squeezed between the ocean and awesome folded mountains with highland valleys, is home to the most complex biodiversity on our planet, with more than 1 880 different plant species occurring in only 240 square kilometres. The next richest is the South American rainforest with just 420 species per 10 000 square kilometres! The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve alone boasts 77 species that occur nowhere else on earth. To put this in perspective, the whole of the United Kingdom has just 22 endemics.

The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve falls within the Boland Mountain Complex – one of eight sites across the Western and Eastern Cape that comprise the Cape Floristic Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site.

The heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom is in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Although it is the smallest of the world’s floral kingdoms, it is the richest by far with 9 087 different plant species of which 6 218 are endemic.

Biosphere Reserve Concept

The concept of a biosphere reserve is an international designation in accordance with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. They are ‘new concept’ reserves: no fences to keep ‘people’ out and ‘nature’ in. It is the commitment of local communities, farmers, conservation agencies and local government that protect the magnificent landscapes and unique biodiversity.

The essence of the biosphere reserve concept is about the combination of three complementary functions: conservation (of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation); sustainable development (fostering economic development which is ecologically and culturally sustainable); and logistical support (promoting research, monitoring, education and training). It is vital to the future of its fynbos heritage to strive to become a world role model for conservation and sustainable living while also meeting the needs and aspirations of the communities that call it home.

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  Vol 3, Issue 2 – Chelsea Flower Show: May 2016.