Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Champion Trees of the Arderne Gardens

The Arderne Gardens in Claremont, Cape Town, were established in 1845 by the successful timber merchant Ralph Henry Arderne. He acquired the land on which he built his home “The Hill” and proceeded to establish a garden with plants that he had collected from all over the world. Further development of the increasingly famous garden was continued by his son Henry Mathew Arderne who passed away in 1914.

The property was subsequently sold and in the 1920’s the new owner intended to divide the property into building lots. The Director of Parks and Gardens in Cape Town at the time, Mr A W van Houten, was opposed to this, and persuaded the City Council to buy the most important part of the garden. For the following 27 years the garden was placed in the caring hands of A M J Scheltens as curator.

Although the gardens had been declared a national monument many years before, in the early 2000’s the garden had fallen into a state of neglect resulting in the establishment of the non-profit organisation FOTAG (Friends of the Arderne Gardens) in 2004, with the objective of working with the City of Cape Town to preserve and develop the gardens.

With the introduction of Champion Trees by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, 6 of the trees in the garden have received official national recognition and protection. The criteria for Champion Tree status are, age, biological attributes and heritage significance.

The 6 official Champion Trees of the Arderne Gardens are:

  1. Morton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) this is the largest tree in the Western Cape and one of the four largest in South Africa.
  2. Norfolk Island pine (Auraucaria heterophylla) this is a particularly large specimen.
  3. Turkish oak (Quercus cerris)
  4. Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta)
  5. Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) 
  6. Cork oak (Quercus suber)

The Friends of the Arderne Gardens have identified another 15 unofficial ‘champion trees’ bringing the total to 21.

Why not collect a brochure containing a map of the gardens, from the Scala Pharamacy across the road from the entrance, and enjoy the lovely walk through these beautiful surroundings that follows the numbered sequence of these magnificent trees which are such an important part of our national heritage.

Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis)
Camphor tree (Cinnamonium camphora)
Holm oak (quercus ilex)
Queensland kuari (Agathis robusta)

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