After visiting England, where the trees are so huge and beautiful,
and I became so fascinated with them, it has been great to see so many beautiful trees in Natal. I can see why Durban was a favoured colonisation place for Brits. Amazing trees are everywhere here and have the space to grow to their fullest extent. There is nothing like a fully stretched out tree even in an industrial area.
In Durban luckily the alien police have not attacked the trees that line the streets, and so you will find a host of the best trees from around the world. In this HOT climate you can always find cool parking. The trees take precedence in the street, as you can see here, and it has been amazing to see different trees blossoming at different times of the year. At the moment all the coral trees are blossoming their red flowers. Its red season.
A little while ago it was orange with these amazing trees from Madagascar flowering along the streets.
Previous to that was these red flowering wide spreading trees. The red flowers made a crown on top.
On many of my walks, next to the houses are these unexpected fairy glades.
Of course my favourite place is the Durban botanical gardens. What I like most is that it is FREE to go in at any time, unlike the fee at Kirstenbosch. Its not that I resent the fee at Kirstenbosch..which is actually cheap compared to England where I paid R500 for a much lesser experience! (see previous post on the Eden project ..okay you can use your ticket for a year, but have no option for a once off visit.) The trees here are so exotic! This was a repository of all the corners of the Empire, a mini Kew gardens.
The intention behind the gardens was not positive, as most colonial enterprises, and many plants were “stolen” in order to create a sort of “seed bank”, as medicine was essentially herbal at the time. Many of the trees come from India and Madagascar and further east. But they have been allowed to grow and grow and are stunning! I have been going back often to visit the changes over the seasons.
The first trees that really struck me were these cannonball trees. Mainly because the heady scent of the exotic flowers were so strong, I had to stop. I couldnt see the cannonballs but later in the year I found them in the place of the flowers.
There are simply HUGE banyan trees. (The ones here are small compared to ones in India that spread over 2 acres and people even make houses inside them) These are fig type trees that spread sideways with roots that drip down from the branches. They are grown for good luck and are a symbol of immortality.
Banyan trees are thought to have spiritual significance, with the Lord Shiva being the branches (he has many arms), the Lord Vishnu the bark of the tree, and the Lord Brahma, the great God, the large powerful roots of the tree. They have been used medicinally for centuries.
This is the legendary Bodi tree that the Lord Buddha sat under meditating to find enlightenment
There are other wild fig species with incredible trunks.
The palms are truly majestic and there are these ancient Woods and many cycads that were brought here a few hundred years ago and are also huge.
There is a fern garden with magical tree ferns and ponds with lotus flowers,
lots of water birds and a couple of pelicans
and a special grotto with exquisite orchids.
My all time favourite are still fever trees, with their distinctive yellow trunks.
They were called fever trees because they looked like they had jaundice and were near to malaria areas. The bark is also used to cure fevers .Other medicinal trees are cinnamon (once more valuable than gold) with multiple health benefits including lowering cholesterol and blood sugar , rauvolfia caffra( called african quinine..very important in conquering africa). The bark has been used traditionally for many things including malaria. Look at http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Rauvolfia+caffra for more.
A sunken garden is very neat and reminiscent of English country gardens, I say.
New developments are this butterfly park where all the flowers grown are to attract certain butterflies.
As with Kirstenbosch they have music evenings and open air movies. I havent yet been to any, but fully intend to go. People use the gardens for special occasions like birthdays.
There is a lovely old fashioned tea garden run by volunteers with HUGE crumpets and scones and tea.
The best is the monkeys that race through the trees and a host of feral cats that watch you while you drink your tea.