A guest post by Rosanne Stanway (Photos by D Kirkwood)
Since the Soccer World Cup ended in July 2010, many people have lost interest in the Green Point Stadium and surrounds. However, the area that underwent such extreme rejuvenation for football fans now also provides a beautiful spot for Cape Town outdoor lovers to spend an afternoon: The Green Point Park and Biodiversity Garden.
I visited on a Monday (it opened on the 20th December 2010) and was struck by its emptiness – all of this space and beauty and no one to utilise it? But a revisit on Saturday demonstrated that the public are starting to trickle in. A family set up a cricket game on the lawns, children and their parents exercised on the outdoor ‘green circuit’ machines, and couples wandered through the grounds looking at plants and spotting animal sculptures.
The biodiversity garden within the Park contains over 300 local Cape plant species, and is designed to be educational, inspirational and stimulating (see more about its planning and development here: http://marijkes-biodiversityblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/backtracking.html). Although it appears to be pitched at children of school-going age it is equally informative for adults.
The garden is separated into ‘People and Plants’, ‘Wetlands’ and ‘Discovering Biodiversity’. Beds are planted according to vegetation type, so you can see which plants typically grow in sandveld, renosterveld, mountain fynbos, coastal thicket etc. Cleverly, these sections are laid out in such a way that when the signs prompt you to look up, you can associate which of these vegetation types grows on the surrounding Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain. They even have a lawn garden, so you can test the softness of various indigenous water wise grasses between your toes!
Educational boards throughout the garden are entertaining and clear, and provide useful information such as ‘dead logs are great homes for lizards and geckos’ and ‘how to keep a healthy pond in your garden to attract frogs’. Beaded animals and metal sculptures are cleverly tucked into the vegetation, my personal favourite are the moles, poking their heads out of the earth! If the Cape heat is overwhelming, there are picnic tables, benches, beautiful drinking fountains, and shady spots in which to sit and absorb the view of your surrounds, and the paths are wide enough to allow for wheelchair and pram access. Water bodies are dotted across the park, acting as a boundary to the golf course and drawing lots of birds to the area.
It’s a great spot to spend a morning. You can enter from the fan walk or through the west gate on the side of Mouille Point lighthouse. Recycling bins are placed at the main entry gates to the park, and security guards are present. Hours are 7am-7pm.
Visit www.stadiumcapetown.co.za for more details or phone +27 (0)21 430 7300 or +27 (0)21 417 0101. Park tours can be booked through the Stadium Visitor Centre.The Park tour costs about R35 per person. This is for the City to raise much-needed funds to maintain the Park. The tours leave at 10, 12 and 2, and there are official guides.
Directions to the Visitor Centre:
From the new raised Green Point traffic circle, take the turnoff closest to McDonald’s, and park near the site of the old stadium. Look for entrance C off Granger Bay Boulevard.
Rosie Stanway is a botanist, with a Masters degree in pollination biology from the University of Stellenbosch. She has worked in a wide range of environments, including the Peruvian Amazon, but is captivated by Cape fynbos and renosterveld. Apart from being passionate about plant conservation, another great love is cooking, and she is always on the lookout for new markets, ethical producers, and gardening projects in and around Cape Town.