100 Blooming Years for Kirstenbosch and the Chelsea Flower Show

100 years chelsea flower showJust 100 years ago Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was a run-down derelict farm. Now, “100 blooming years” later, it is arguably the most beautiful garden in Africa and a destination high on any tourist’s list.

2013 is a milestone year as the Garden celebrates its Centenary and the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI) Kirstenbosch – South Africa exhibit at the upcoming Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show from May 21 to 25 in London will reflect many of the aspects that have made the Garden a “must see” and an icon for botanical enthusiasts internationally.

That the Chelsea Flower Show (CFS) is also celebrating its Centenary is serendipitous and one that will add additional reasons for visitors to enjoy a show that has become the “Olympics” of Flower Shows.
For 38 years South Africa has been exhibiting at this prestigious event and this is the 20th year that designers David Davidson and Raymond Hudson have been presenting innovative, award winning exhibits. Hopes are high that yet another gold medal will be added to the 32 already won over the years. 

Dr Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) will be there to cheer the team on. “To celebrate the Centenary of Kirstenbosch and to exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show Centenary is a wonderful opportunity to show the value that we place on our botanical heritage.”  She said.  

“Biodiversity is our natural capital. It is the extraordinary variety of life, such as plants, animals and insects that are the foundation of ecosystems that provide people with sustainable benefits. From ecosystems we derive essential goods and services, such as food, water grazing, pollination, fish and medicines. Our ecological infrastructure is an extremely valuable national asset, and we embrace the opportunity Chelsea affords us to highlight this”.

At every Chelsea Flower Show visitors flock to see the unusual and exotic plants that have made our exhibit a winner for so many years. One of the highlights of the exhibit will be the “Centenarians” - our oldest and most distinguished residents. These plants have been growing at Kirstenbosch for I00 years or more, or were introduced during the first five years, 1913-1917, and are still here today. Not all of the specimens are 100 years old. Some are cuttings, offsets or seedlings of the original plants and have been propagated and grown at Kirstenbosch over the past I00 years. The ever popular Protea family will provide a colourful and always fascinating display against the iconic Table Mountain backdrop.

Visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show will enjoy a snapshot of South Africa’s unique botanical heritage - an invitation to explore a fascinating World Heritage site. Endeavoring to create a stunning, sensory walk where visitors can experience the beauty and tranquility of being enveloped in the heart of the Garden – the display is an enclosed reconstruction of the Central Garden and Dell – the oldest and most beautiful parts of the Garden. 

The circular, walk-through exhibit features the Dell and Cycad Amphitheatre on one side, and the Protea Garden and mountain skyline on the other. The overhead sky canopy enhances the sense of quietude that enfolds the Garden.

Plants are sourced from all over the country making this a combined effort from both farmers and landscapers who take pride in participating at this prestigious event.  Community projects are also represented to ensure that local programmes benefit from their inclusion.

Tourism is always a major focus of the  exhibit at this prestigious show and many visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show have been inspired to visit South Africa thus providing much needed jobs. With this exhibit the traveler will be enthralled by the history that has made this Garden world-renowned.

As with all major projects sponsorship is of paramount importance and for the third year the South African Gold Coin Exchange is a sponsor of the exhibit which has allowed the team to explore and develop what is hoped will be yet another award winning exhibit.

Winning a 33rd gold medal is the goal and is the synergy that Chairman of the SA Gold Coin Exchange and the Scoin shops, Alan Demby, enjoys. “As a sponsor for the last three years we have seen the team win RHS gold medals annually. The Mandela’s Gold Strelitzia at Kirstenbosch has been the inspiration for a limited edition Gold Mandela medallion. This features the portrait of Mandela on the obverse and the Strelitzia on the reverse. Our commitment and sponsorship to the Kirstenbosch attempt to win even more gold medals is reinforced with this medallion and in this, the Centenary year, we see even more synergies with our coin ranges.” he said. 

The good news for South Africans and visitors to our country is that the exhibit will be recreated at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town from 31 August until 24 September this year. Bringing the exhibit to this destination was an inspired move and the V&A Waterfront are proud that they have enabled this Centenary year exhibit to be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.

For more information go to www.sanbi.org.za 

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