Cape Town’s Company’s Garden
With the iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop, Cape Town’s historic Company’s Garden was established by Dutch settlers in 1652 to provide fresh produce to ships traveling the trade route between east and west. Controlled by the Dutch East India Company, the fertile land was surrounded by trees acting as a wind-break, with the produce being irrigated by the pure waters of mountain springs. As governor of the Cape in 1679, Simon van der Stel, together with gardening experts Jan Hartog and Hendrik Bernard Oldenland extended the fruit and vegetable gardens to include both indigenous and exotic shrubs, trees and other flora, channeling the mountain streams into canals for irrigation.
When Johan Andries Auge became Superintendent of the Company’s Garden in 1751, he added to the collection of indigenous species, some of which remain to this day. It was also at this time that South African bulbs and plants were exported to the European market.
Following the bankruptcy of the Dutch East India Company in 1799, the gardens were neglected for a time until the British occupied the Cape. Some of the ground was used for government buildings and the gardens were allocated to the Governor of the Cape. In 1848 part of the Gardens were opened to the public and by 1892 the Company Garden’s had become well established as a public park taken care of by the municipality.
Today, visitors to the Company’s Gardens will find beautifully landscaped gardens, a network of paths to stroll along, lawns and benches to relax on and a number of features of historic interest. An especially poignant historic feature of the Company’s Garden is the Delville Wood Memorial Garden, honoring the more than two thousand soldiers who lost their lives in the World War I Battle of Delville Wood which took place in France against German forces. Natural historic features include the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa, and a rose garden dating back to 1929. There is also an aviary, herb and succulent gardens, a large well-stocked fish pond and a restaurant – the perfect destination for a peaceful family outing.