Indigenous garden for Zandvlei under way

Zandvlei Nature Reserve. Picture: Supplied

An indigenous-garden circle is to be established in Zandvlei to educate people, preserve fynbos and wildlife.

FynbosLIFE and the City of Cape Town’s nature conservation department are working on the project.

According to botanical ecologist Dr Caitlin von Witt, FynbosLIFE’s programme manager, the 1000m2 garden will feature indigenous strandveld plants.

She describes it as demonstration garden, where visitors can learn about growing local wild plants and supporting wildlife in their own gardens.

“It is also a recreational space and there will be a central play and picnic area,” she said.

Although the project draws on the symbolism of a mandala,
Dr Von Witt has decided to call the gardens veld circles instead, to avoid any potential religious connotations.

“It is very important to me that the project is fully accessible to all. This new, more inclusive title has been well accepted,” she said.

In 2018 a fynbos mandala was established in the Grootboschkloof greenbelt in Constantia. It is a 1000m2 non-irrigated garden showcasing granite fynbos and sand fynbos species found in the area.

Over the next few weeks, the field next to the Zandvlei lookout in Promenade Road will be cleared of invasive manatoka (Myoporum tenuifolium) trees and once the site is prepared, the community will be invited for the planting.

Anyone interested can keep an eye on the FynbosLIFE Facebook page for details. The “LIFE” part of the organisation’s name stands for “Locally Indigenous Flora Education”.

Soon after planting, FynbosLIFE will be moving its Cape Flats fynbos nursery to the Zandvlei lookout, right next to the strandveld circle.

“The wholesale nursery should be up and running towards the end of the year, with pop-up retail sales to the public,” Dr Von Witt said.

Kyran Wright, Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve manager, supports the project.

“We at the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve are excited for the veld circle to be planted on the Reserve. The area where it will be installed is a low-use area which is covered in grass and of low biodiversity value. By planting indigenous flora the area will gain significant value from educational and restoration perspectives,” he said.

Planting indigenous species held various benefits, he said. “If residential gardens have pockets of indigenous veld it allows animals to use these ‘islands’ as stepping stones between natural and protected areas – thereby improving our City’s resilience to urbanisation, fragmentation and even climate change,” he said.