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Birds of the Garden Route Botanical Garden

The Garden Route Botanical Garden’s (GRBG) main aim may be to conserve the rich floral heritage of the Garden Route, but in doing so we attract a great deal of local fauna. Of the myriad of creatures residing in our Garden, one of the most notable are birds. Over the last year local photographer , Ettiene de Beer, has spent countless hours meandering through the GRBG enjoying the bird life. Below are the most spectacular moments he has captured.

Images from the Garden Route Botanical Garden Bird-Hide

A yellow billed duck taking a rest in our Wetland.

The striking Malachite Kingfisher on the lookout for his next meal.

A Moorhen caring for her young chick.

The Black Crake wading through the shallows of the Wetland.

The common, yet beautiful Waxbill

The elusive African Rail can often be spotted from our birdhide

Images from the Van Kervel Dam

The Darter sunning on his local perch

A Moorhen, gliding across the dam.

Images from the Garden 

The Karoo-prinia perching on a Wachendorfia thrysifolia 

A Cape White-eye visiting the patch of W. thyrsifolia next to our wetland

The Greater Double Collared Sunbird can be found en-mass during September when our Aloe display is in flower

An Olive Thrush enjoying a patch of indigenous forest in the GRBG

The beautiful, locally endemic Cape Sugar-bird.

We hope this encourages you to visit our beloved community garden, not only for the beautiful plants, but also for the unique birds!

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A Night in the Garden

On the 24th of January, the Garden Route Botanical Garden hosted another successful Night in the Garden. The aim of this event is to introduce participants to the intriguing insects, amphibians and reptiles of the Garden Route.

The evening started with an enthralling, informative presentation by Garden Route Snake Rescue. The images below depict some of the highlights of their workshop

The crowd was first introduced to the non venomous Olive House Snake (imaged on the right) and the mildly venomous Red-Lipped Herald (imaged on the left)

We then explored the subtle difference between the rhombic egg eater (imaged first) and the rhombic night adder (imaged second). The rhombic egg eater is a non-venomous, toothless snake that feeds off eggs, but can easily be confused with the venemous rhombic night adder. The experts told us the difference lies in the shape of the snake’s heads (the egg eater having a wider more triangular shaped head).


After learning about the egg eater, the crowd was taught an interesting lesson – a boomslang is never a completely green snake. The boomslang (imaged first), is often confused with the Natal Green (on second).

The participants were then introduced to the truly venomous snakes of our region – from top to botton, the Rinkals, Cape Cobra and the Puff Adder.

Following Garden Route Snake’s wonderfully educational display, was an interesting and entertaining talk on the frogs of the Garden Route by amphibian expert, Ferdie de Lange. The Raucous toad (imaged above) was shown as one of the common frogs found in our homes, with a most unusual call.

Owing to the good rain previous to the event, the garden was teaming with life. Participants were treated to a cacophony of painted reed frogs and an excitingly large population of Knysna Dwarf Chameleons.



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New Research on the Leto venus moth in the Garden Route Botanical Garden

The Keurboom Moth (Leto venus) is a Moth endemic to the Southern Cape of South Africa. The large size and unique markings of this moth make it an incredibly attractive specimen to encounter. For most of its life, this moth lives as a larvae in the stems of Keurbooms and Honey Bush. Once the moth emerges, it scarcely lives for more than a day as it has no mouth parts.

Despite research on this moth dating back nearly 80 years, there is still much that it unknown about this moths life-cycle, habits, and morphology. Photographer, Naturalist and Garden Route Botanical Garden (GRBG) Enthusiast, Mr Colin Ralston has recently co-authored two research papers on L. venus based on data collected in the GRBG . This intriguing research studied the feeding habits of L. venus’s larval stage as well as morphological characteristics of the male moth. Below are links to his research.

2018 Grehan & Ralston Leto venus

Grehan, Ralston & Van Noort Leto venus

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Thank you to all those involved in 2019!

2019 has been an incredibly constructive year at the Garden Route Botanical Garden (GRBG). Many new developments took place in our Garden including the construction of a new parking lot and welcome bed, redevelopment of the Tea Garden, planting about 2000 new trees and many other exciting projects. None of these projects would have been possible without the generosity and good will of the supporters of the GRBG. This article intends to thank these good willed individuals.

The Construction of the new Parking Lot and Welcome Bed

  • WTW Construction donated a great deal of G7, as well as their machinery and expertise to level and construct the parking lot.
  • K1 quarries donated 120 cubes of G4 gravel as a topping to our road and parking lot to reduce muddiness when it rains.
  • Keith Kirsten and Elands Nursery donated R20 814.00 worth of trees for the isles of the parking lot
  • 2hire donated one day’s use of their Kabuta digger-loader
  • Tilly Reitz assisted in the landscape design of the welcome bed.


Figure 1: New Welcome Bed in Progress

Figure 2: New Parking Lot

The Restaurant and Tea Garden renovation

  • Colleen Gardner from Noordhoek, Capetown donated the Glass-House structure to the GRBG and contributed R 6000.00 to its transport costs to George.
  • Mr Ken Gie oversaw the whole operation from removing the glass-house in Cape Town to reconstructing it in the GRBG Tea Garden.
  • All the participants of the 2019 GRBG Golf Day. The proceeds of this event went towards reconstructing the Glass-House in the tea garden and redeveloping the surrounding garden.
  • Clint du Preez of Groundworx Landscapes assisted in the garden design.
  • BUCO donated some building materials to the project.
  • Prof Adré Boshoff donated varnish for the floors of the Moriarty Centre and the outside tables in the tea garden. He also made monthly donations to augment the salaries of two employees.

Figure 3: A sneak peak at our new restaurant


Abour Month Planting

  • The Department of Environment Forestry and Fishery donated 250 trees to the GRBG, 150 of which were planted in the garden.

Figure 4: Donated trees ready to be planted in the GRBG

Figure 5: Donated Trees ready to green a school ground

GreenPop Planting

  • GreenPop donated and planted 1 500 trees in the GRBG as well as facilitated the painting of a fantastic educational mural inspired by the plants and animals of Knysna Forest.
  • Sandy Haddad prepared the tree planting site with his subsoiler. Thanks to Sandy, our trees are now thriving.

Figure 6: Volunteers planting a forest during the GreenPop planting

Figure 7: An educational mural painted at our Education Centre during the GreenPop planting

Precious Tree Project Planting

  • Ray Nolan and Mellissa Dalton of Precious Tree Project planted 40 trees in the GRBG contributing to our new forest

Stiles Tree Planting

  • Stiles planted 20 trees in the GRBG during their end of year function. They intend to add more to this forest each year.


  • An unimaginable amount of work has been done in our nursery, propagation yard and herbarium by three invaluable volunteer teams. The GRBG would like to extend a Heart – Felt thank you to all those involved.
  • A massive thank you must also be given to the talented Mr P. Beukes, who voluntarily constructed a spectacular mosaic of the George Lily in the GRBG. Stiles generously provided the tiles for this project at a greatly discounted cost.

Figure 8: A beautiful mosaic of the George Lily – the GRBG’s Emblem

Other Important Help

  • George Municipality and George Golf Club shared the responsibility of cutting the grass in the GRBG.
  • Sandy Haddad continued to repair our tractor free of charge
  • Chipper SA donated the use of their wood chipper whenever the GRBG needed it.
  • Kelpak donated 120 l of Kelpak fertiliser over the last year.
  • Kraaibosch Nursery donated 50 Aloe vera’s.
  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden donated a diversity of fynbos and medicinal plants over the year, as well as training for the GRBG staff members.
  • An anonymous donation of R 5 000 was made to the GRBG nursery.
  • Kraaibosch donated pots to the GRBG nursery
  • Kazin trading donated the rental of a 2.75 x 2.4 m container on a yearly basis for the purpose of storage at our Environmental Education Centre
  • Dr Susanne Mc Gregor donated the purchase and installation of 8 blinds to the Garden Route Environmental Education Centre, making power-point presentations possible.
  • Afrigetics sponsored the labour for removing Typha capensis from the wetland surrounding our Bird Hide
  • Dr Daan Botha donated 6 boxes of botanical books to the Southern Cape Herbarium Library. An additional 3 boxes of botanical books were anonymously donated.

The lists of supporters mentioned above are just a few of a large number of fantastic individuals voluntarily making the operation of our beloved Community Botanical Garden possible. A great thank you to all those involved, and we look forward to another fruitful year to come for all!

Finn Rautenbach

Manager: Garden Route Botanical Garden


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Night Life of the Garden

Join us on a night tour around the Garden Route Botanical Garden, and try spot our local night life!

Be on the lookout for the Knysna dwarf chameleon as well as our 10 different species of frogs!

You’ll need • a flashlight and • a very good ear to track their calls, and lastly • lots of enthusiasm!

R30.00 to participate

For more info, contact the GRBG by phone: (044) 874 1558 , fax: 086 627 9445 or email: 🌱🐸

14 November 2018, starts at 19:00 and ends at 21:00

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Golf Day “Shotgun Start”

Join us for our Golf day benefit for the Garden Route Botanical Garden at the George Golf Club.

Winners get a full lamb each, and all players will receive a prize!

Entry Fee: R350.00 per person. 


If you would like to donate prizes or make any other donation, contact us for a donation form at

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Adopt a (garden) bed at the Garden Route Botanical Garden

The significant commercial value of the Garden Route region, its mild climate and astonishing wealth of biodiversity were all instrumental in the creation of the Garden Route Botanical Garden Trust (GRBGT). The notion of the Garden was originally mooted during the 1960’s. The idea persisted until finally during the early 1990’s, a branch of the Botanical Society of South Africa was founded by a group of local members and their first project was the establishment of the GRBG which eventually became the independent Non-profit organisation (NPO) (NPO 009-676) the Garden Route Botanical Garden Trust (GRBGT) (Trust No IT 2704-97). The GRBGT is based at 49 Caledon Street, George.

As the age of technological advance accelerates, George is likewise experiencing rapid growth. Offering a magnificent environment and sound infrastructure, technology makes it possible to conduct business regardless of where one resides. These factors make George a very attractive destination both for business people and retirees, which has resulted in the city’s very rapid growth over the past 20+ years.


While economic growth is the lifeblood of any city, conversely this triggers an almost insatiable appetite for land – both for business and residential purposes to keep pace with the resultant population growth. This fact was recognised many years ago and maintaining the biodiversity of the region necessitated the preservation of our natural history in tandem with the development of our city. This is particularly true in respect of activities which offer opportunities for:

  • Biodiversity Conservation – Plant and animal communities losing ground to encroaching human activities

  • Outdoor biodiversity Education – hands on learning experiences aligned with school curricula as well as adult education

  • Tourism – the GRBG has over time attracted many foreign tourists many of whom have much more than a passing interest in our region’s plant life

  • Heritage Conservation – maintaining George’s rich cultural and historical heritage

  • Recreation – a place of tranquillity and beauty, where tourists and locals alike can benefit from being outdoors in a multi-dimensional environment reflecting the impressive biodiversity of the Garden Route

In the above context therefore a major function of the GRBG is to both maintain the genetic material of our region’s flora and vegetation (for research and future rehabilitation projects) and to create a living collection of these plants of the Garden Route (for environmental education of the ever increasing population of the region and to create a safe haven for plants, animals and people). Hence the need to maintain a Botanical Garden of high quality is of integral importance.


The sole and principal object of this NPO is engaging in the conservation, rehabilitation and protection of the natural environment, including the flora and fauna of the biosphere primarily through the Garden Route Botanical Garden and the Southern Cape Herbarium. These aims are fulfilled by means of a number of projects which the Garden Route Botanical Garden drives.

These projects include the following

  • A sustainable harvesting project in which we encourage the sustainable harvesting of indigenous medicinal plants within the Garden Route Botanical Garden 
  • Environmental education through outreach programmes (such as tree plantings) and by means of the Garden Route Environmental Education Centre
  • Maintaining and displaying a living collection of the highly diverse plant species found within the Southern Cape. This is of the most important aims of a Botanical Garden which needs to be maintained in the highest quality, both genetically and aesthetically in order to preserve the significance of the collection with regards to both environmental education and aesthetic appeal.

Due to the importance of this activity in order to ensure the functionality and beauty of a botanical garden, it is a priority for the GRBGT. It is currently a major project driven by an excited and driven team to bring the standards of the GRBGT’s living collection up to the international standards for which we strive. This has involved redesigning many beds in our garden, creating relevant interpretative signage and accessioned (recorded) plant labels, and accessing and propagating the relevant plant material.


Since the GRBGT is a Trust driven NPO depending largely on sustained consistent funding this highly significant project is currently unable to generate the vital energy input that we are anticipating with the help of your company.

In this context we propose that your company sponsor a thematic bed or beds in the GRBGT. The themed bed will be entirely your preference. You’ll have a number of choices, e.g.:

  • Succulent collections

  • Fynbos displays

  • Afromontane forest beds

  • Permaculture gardens

Every bed has a specific theme and a detailed management plan dictating its use to facilitate environmental education and increasing awareness regarding the importance of preservation of indigenous plants of the Southern Cape. These plans will be used within our education plans in conjunction with the Garden Route Environmental Education Centre. We appeal for your support in providing funds for developing the bed (extra man power and a contribution to the purchase and propagation of accessioned plant material), maintaining the bed (additional labour to assist our staff) and interpretative signage.

There are a number of ways in which we will acknowledge your support of this cause. As a registered NPO/PBO (Public Benefit Organisation), your donation will qualify for a tax exemption certificate. We will also offer space on all interpretative signage in the bed/s you sponsor to acknowledge your company’s contribution to the Garden. In addition we would also offer free membership of the garden for up to 10 of your staff. The various project options you can choose from are attached.

To acquire a detailed description of each garden bed and its significance, please contact Finn Rautenbach using the following email:

Sincere thanks for your time and consideration in supporting the Garden Route Botanical Garden.

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Arbour Week Plant Sale

Saturday the first of September marks the start of our Arbour Week at the Garden Route Botanical Garden Nursery.This celebration will continue until the seventh of September.

Expect to find a diverse range of healthy indigenous plant species available at affordable prices, including a notable range of different tree species. Selected plants will be sold at discounted prices.

Podocarpus latifolius (the Yellow wood) is the South African common tree of the year. In celebration of this, we will be selling yellow wood seedlings for R 10.00 each

Nursery times for the Sale:

Saturday 1st 08h00 – 14h00                                                                                                                                                  CLOSED SUNDAY                                                                                                                                                                    Monday to Thursday 08h30 – 16h30                                                                                                                                    Friday 7th 08h30 – 14h00

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Japanese tree planting

Today marked the Seifu Academy Peace Planting.

170 Fynbos plants were planted, each of which with a personal prayer for World Peace and Harmony on Earth.

This years focus was a commemoration to Nelson Mandela. 67 King Proteas where planted to symbolise the 67 years mr mandela devoted to serving our beloved country. The other plants include a diversity of proteas, Erica’s, leucodendrons and leucospermums.

We look forward to watching these blessed plants grow!

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Science Week at the Garden Route Botanical Garden







The Garden Route Botanical Garden (GRBG) has an exciting programme lined up for science week this year, which takes place from 30 July to 4 August. The programme is aimed mainly at learners and the theme this year is “Deepening our democracy through science.”
• GRBG will collaborate with Nelson Mandela University to offer a course by Dr Tony Rebelo of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The topic is “iNaturalist – an introduction to citizen science and how you can contribute”. Two kid’s courses on this topic will be presented on 30 July. Book early, as space is limited. Contact or phone 044 874 1558. An adult course on this topic can be booked with Di Turner at
• The highlight of this year’s programme is a pantomime by the award-winning Klikkerland. Performances of their shows are taking place in the GRBG as well as the Thembalethu Youth and Science Centre (TYSC). Bookings for the GRBT can be made at / 044 874 1558. For the TYSC shows, contact Nadine Nortier on / 073 279 8326.
Other exciting presentations to look forward to include:
• “Ecological intelligence” presented by the Landmark Foundation
• “Jobs for Carbon/Puzzles” presented by the Gouritz Biosphere Reserve
• Food Gardens presented by Finn Rautenbach
• Soil is life presented by Lorrinda Hakimi
• Reptiles we encounter presented by Nick Kolberg
• Botanical gardens: what they mean to society presented by Matt Seager
• Living Maths, (teachers training workshops on the afternoons 1 and 2 August) presented by Steve Sherman
• Chemistry: the use of Energy and where it comes from presented by Dr Louw Claasens
• Science of infectious diseases and the workings of the body by Dr Bert Hoogenboort
• An exciting 3D video titled Garden: How it is made will be presented by Werner Eckron.
• Heidendal Primary will present a short play about hygiene.
• Starry, starry night – a look at our heavens, will take place on Tuesday 31 July from 19:00 until 21:00 and again on Thursday 2 August at the GRBG Discovery Centre Telescope Pad. Pre-book with Gabby on 044 874 1558. This will be the first time the garden’s new telescope will be in action. GRBG thanks Case Rijsdijk for organising this as a permanent fixture in the garden.