The hard work done by all Kirstenbosch staff in keeping the garden in top condition and providing world-class visitor facilities and services was recognized with the Best Tourist Attraction award in the Cape Metropolitan Area for 2001 in the MTN Premier Tourism Awards.
Development of the long-awaited Centre for Home Gardening at Kirstenbosch got under way with the initiation of an environmental scoping process and calls for public comment at various public meetings. The original design proposal was revised and downscaled from R7.5 million to R4.5 million. Implementation of the revised design is subject to Board approval with construction scheduled to start in June 2002.
The roof of the Visitors' Centre was blown off during violent storms in September, causing extensive damage to stock in the Kirstenbosch Shop and the Botanical Society Bookshop. Both businesses had to trade from the Old Mutual Conference Centre temporarily but were able to return to their respective premises within two weeks.
Mist irrigation, fogging and heating systems were installed in the new Collections Nursery greenhouses funded by the Botanical Society, and all the plant collections were moved into their respective houses. The horticulturist in charge of the alpine collection, one of the Garden's youngest collections, went on a visit to study the alpine collections at various European botanical gardens.
A milestone was reached with the 10th season of Summer Sunset Concerts sponsored by Appletiser. This season, a record-breaking 48 000 people attended these Sunday concerts and over R1 million was raised for the Garden. Other concerts organized in-house included a New Year's Eve concert featuring local jazz musician Jimmy Dludlu, which raised over R200 000 for the Centre for Home Gardening.
The demand for the Appletiser Stage as a professional concert venue has gradually grown since the erection of a stage canopy in 1999. The stage was hired out for a number of additional concerts during the 2001/2002 summer season, including performances by Art Garfunkel, Johnny Clegg, Miriam Makeba and the Soweto String Quartet, generating significant income for the Garden.
The popular programme of theme walks offered as a visitor service continued, with over 1 000 visitors using this service during the year. The enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteer guides who run these walks was recognized with a certificate for excellence awarded at a Mayoral Function to honour volunteer groups.
Amongst the many influential groups hosted by the Garden during the year were a delegation of 100 senior political and ambassadorial staff from the People's Republic of
China, a group of Lords Mayors from the United Kingdom, members of the Enterprise Development Forum and a delegation from the Eastern Cape investigating the feasibility of developing a botanical garden in that region.
Garden staff made their expert knowledge on growing indigenous plants available through the Plant of the Week feature on the NBI website, which provides detailed instructions on cultivating a particular plant each week. Kirstenbosch staff also collaborated with the Ukuvuka Firestop Campaign on the Cape Peninsula Forest Rehabilitation Project. For this project, the Kirstenbosch Estate team constructed a 1.5 km hiking trail from Constantia Nek to the Back Table.
Horticultural research conducted included trials on potting mixtures and fertilizers for various fynbos species, as well as germination trials on some nut-fruited Leucadendron species, which yielded surprisingly positive results following smoke and heat treatment.
Research into the cultivation and propagation of the genus Nerine resulted in the publication of the eighth title in the Kirstenbosch Gardening Series, Grow nerines. The author of this book was also honoured with the prestigious Herbert Medal from the International Bulb Society for his work on the bulbs of southern Africa.
For many years Kirstenbosch has offered placements for horticulture students completing the practical component of their degrees. In recognition of the invaluable role it plays in this regard, Kirstenbosch received an award for excellence in experiential training from the Peninsula Technikon.
As part of an ongoing effort to contribute to transformation in the Garden, particularly at the horticultural level, six students from disadvantaged backgrounds were awarded internships and studentships at Kirstenbosch for 2002
Erica verticillata returns home after 200 years
A trip was undertaken to Austria in order to collect cuttings of Erica verticillata from the Belvedere Palace Gardens in Vienna, where it has been in cultivation since the late 1700s. This erica is known to be extinct in the wild and was last recorded growing at Kirstenbosch in the 1940s. Also growing at Belvedere Palace Gardens was another extinct species, Erica turgida.
It is thought that two early botanical collectors, Scholl and Boos, collected the original plants between 1785 and 1797.
The plants were officially handed over at the South African embassy in Vienna by the Austrian Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, Dr Wilhelm Molterer in July 2001 and are currently being propagated at Kirstenbosch.