The appointment of an additional horticulturist and four more groundspersons has boosted staff capacity at the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden. For the first time in its 43-year history, the Garden will enjoy the benefits of having two horticulturists on its staff.
Work began on the development of a Dune Walk through the dune system created in the Garden in the early 1960s, with the aid of a grant of R48 000 from the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust through WWF-SA. The main concrete pathway through the dunes was completed and plant material was cleared for the boardwalk over the dunes. Because of savings on the project, permission was granted from WWF-SA to continue the boardwalk further into the wetland area.
The Garden experienced a very dry year, so much so that the rivers and waterfalls had hardly any flowing water. Staff took advantage of the dry weather to undertake a number of maintenance and development projects in the stream beds. Much time and energy was spent on the upkeep of the Garden. Numerous mountain trails had to be cleared of overgrowth and dead trees were also removed to prevent a fire hazard. A portion of the garden was cleared of all old specimens in order to be replanted according to the Garden's master plan and some protea and erica sections were also cleared and replanted.
Children from a local primary school were hosted on World Environment Day and given a presentation on the different plant groups occurring in the area. Heritage Day was celebrated in the Garden with a wildflower specimen show featuring over 450 specimens of local flora that was attended by almost 1 200 people. A number of events were organized for the holiday season, such as Carols by Twilight, a Father Christmas Picnic and a New Year's Eve Twilight Picnic.Garden staff were responsible for creating an exhibit at the Elgin Flower Show, in conjunction with the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, which received a Silver Award. They were also called upon to develop and present indigenous and alien plant identification courses to teams participating in the Working for Water Project of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
The Garden's rare and threatened plants programme enjoyed much success with germination of difficult species such Retzia capensis and Nivenia stokoei.
The 17th annual Curator's Week was hosted by the Harold Porter NBG in September. This annual meeting, attended by the curators of all eight National Botanical Gardens, covered garden-related issues such as plant collecting, garden records, fund-raising, marketing and commercialization and the emerging African Botanic Gardens Network. The Garden also hosted the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on the Environment in June.