Arderne Gardens is an oasis hiding in plain sight
There is a long-standing tradition of wedding parties having their photos taken at The Arderne Gardens. It’s been a favourite setting for years, so much so that the colossal Moreton Bay Fig, the first thing that you notice as you enter the gardens, has been nicknamed “the wedding tree” by locals. It also happens to be one of the largest trees on the continent. Despite its popularity for wedding photos, The Arderne Gardens still feels slightly underappreciated or at least underexposed. While Kirstenbosch Gardens is understandably one of the biggest attractions of the city, The Arderne Gardens offers the same tranquil and beautiful escape but on a cosier scale.
The garden has been around since 1845, when it was established as a private garden by Ralph Henry Arderne, a timber merchant from England. He was already an enthusiastic plant collector before purchasing the land where the garden now lies, swapping seeds and bulbs with Sir Thomas Hooker of Kew Gardens. In 1926, long after the death of Ralph Henry and a period financial depression which caused the Arderne family to lose the garden, a Mr van den Houten, director of Parks and Gardens of the time, realised there was a serious chance of the garden disappearing entirely. He convinced the city council to buy the most important area of the garden – the area that makes up The Arderne Gardens today.
Not only is the garden home to one of the largest trees in Africa (the Moreton Bay Fig), it contains five other “Champion Trees”. Champion Trees are deemed deserving of protection due to their size, age, cultural, historic and aesthetic value. The Arderne Gardens has the biggest collection of Champion Trees in the country. Aside from that, The Arderne Gardens has open, green lawns perfect for picnics, a Japanese-style koi pond and many benches on which to spend a relaxing afternoon.
Thanks to the Friends of The Arderne Gardens (FOTAG), a non-profit organisation, the garden is well maintained and cared for. While The Arderne Gardens is open from 8am to 6pm every day, there is 24-hour security. If you would like to get to know the garden better, tours are run on the first Saturday of every month and cost R40. FOTAG will be having its annual general meeting this Wednesday at the Claremont Congregational Church hall at 6pm and all are welcome.
222 Main Road, Claremont
8am – 6pm
Words: Richard Holmes | Images: Supplied