The Durban botanical gardens boast a rich history, dating back to when it was
founded in 1849 for the introduction and trial of potentially useful commercial
crops. Over the course of time, the gardens have developed impressive
collections of sub-tropical trees, palms and orchids. The Durban Botanic Gardens
has become popular with visitors, providing in a sense a sanctuary from the
lively pace of the surrounding city of Durban.
Upon entering the gardens through the secure and guarded parking area, one immediately witnesses the tranquility and diversity of this place. The Gardens host an estimated number of 500 000 visitors per year, many of whom are foreign tourists. This is not too difficult to understand because there are nicely paved, and neatly maintained paths crisscrossing the park like grounds. Benches are placed throughout the grounds providing excellent places for people to relax and enjoy the scenery. Most of the paths lead to special attractions within the grounds, for example the Orchid house with it's spectacular display which includes an artificial stream adding to the serenity of the exhibit.
Also in the gardens, situated towards the middle, one can find a small lake which has made itself home to a multitude of various bird species which include pelicans, ibises and a host of other smaller tree birds. This proves to be an excellent location for bird watchers who don't feel like traveling too far from home. Just a friendly word of warning, watch out for the birds in the trees at the lake if you plan to use the benches. This area seems to be the preferred ablution facility of the birds.
As one moves around the grounds in a clockwise direction, they eventually reach the sensory garden which displays large polished modern steel sculptures. This part of the gardens is home to various types of interesting vegetation including herbs, and much to the amazement of both small children and adults, plants which flop lifelessly when touched, regaining their lifelike appearances again later.
From here visitors can continue onwards to the interesting cycad forest, and still further onwards to the impressive palm lined walkway which displays towering specimens of 130 various international species, the likes of which most South Africans will never see in a lifetime.
The Durban Botanic Gardens houses a Visitors complex consisting of a Gift shop which offers a wide variety of gifts, including Zulu baskets, beadwork and specialist books on South African flora and fauna; an Information Office, Administration offices, the NBS Education Centre and a boardroom accommodating 15 people, surrounded by an indigenous garden. There is also a hall which serves as a versatile venue for conferences, product launches, workshops, exhibitions and weddings. This facility is capable of accommodating 250 delegates in a cinema style seating arrangement or 140 guests seated at tables.There are also ramps and ablution facilities to accommodate the disabled.
Other than a relaxing weekend chill spot, the Gardens occasionally hosts events such as annual concerts on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, showing off some of our county's best musical talent. Among other appealing features are the innovative informal, hands-on learning programs set in place enabling people to connect plants to their everyday lives. The botanic gardens proves to be an ideal outdoor living classroom to learn about plants and their connection to people and life on our planet.
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