One of ten national botanical gardens, Pietermaritzburg’s Botanical Gardens occupy an ancient floodplain and hillside on the edge of a mist belt that creates an atmosphere, on days when the mists roll in, something like that of a Dickens novel.
The city is not known as the City of Flowers for nothing, and private gardens and public parks in Pietermaritzburg are filled with lush vegetation and seasonal blooms, particularly bougainvilleas that thrive in the intense heat of this part of the world. It is fitting that one of the most beautiful national gardens resides in its heart.
The Pietermaritzburg Botanical gardens were established in the early 1870s and essentially focus on conservation and propagation of rare and endangered indigenous plants, and the cultivation of east coast grasslands.
There are some fantastic examples of northern hemisphere plants too, such as tulip and camphor trees, giant figs, magnolias and swamp cypresses. The birdlife, as a result, is magnificent with over 150 recorded species.
Pietermaritzburg’s Botanical Garden is famed for its long avenue of plane trees, planted in 1908, at the end of which is a bell tower that houses a ship bell from the HMS Princess on which King George V crossed the channel in 1918.
There is also a muthi garden of indigenous medicinal plants, displayed around a traditional Zulu hut, a series of lovely walking trails through grassland and indigenous forest, and a popular guided walk programme.