Upgrade for Gardens

2015-05-08 10:07
Allen Nene, director of the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Gardens, has some exciting projects lined up for the garden.

Allen Nene, director of the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Gardens, has some exciting projects lined up for the garden. (Jonathan Burton)

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RESIDENTS of Pietermaritzburg and visitors to the city are in for a treat, with plans to revive the Botanic Gardens intended to give the 140-year-old facility a new lease on life.

Curator Allen Nene said he has big and exciting plans for the gardens, but which would not disturb its old and natural beauty.

“The Pietermaritzburg National Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in the world, so we want to stay relevant in society and develop the garden without damaging what is already there.”

Nene said he had a fresh young team working with him and they were all working hard to bring the new projects to fruition.

“Some of the projects we have include expanding our conference hall near the dam in the gardens from a 100-seater to a 450-seater facility.

“We are also busy upgrading our Zulu Demo garden, which will be launched later this year, and we are busy setting up a cycad garden as well as a permaculture [vegetable] garden.”

The improvements to the hall are expected to be completed in March next year.

Nene said the Zulu garden was aimed at teaching people about Zulu culture and heritage, while the permaculture garden would be used to educate those touring the garden about food security.

“There are a few other projects in the pipeline that we are considering starting up,” he said.

Nene said the team were considering introducing a stage for the gardens to host concerts and events, similar to the concerts held in Durban’s municipal botanical gardens. To this end, he had asked for the municipal bandstand to be relocated to the gardens and was awaiting a reply.

Among other projects, the team were also considering investing in the cafe at the entrance of the gardens and establishing a gym in the hopes of attracting more visitors.

“We have a tenant who was a trainer at Virgin Active who now holds boot-camp classes in the gardens during the afternoons.

“This is so popular that our team are seriously considering building an outdoor gym in the gardens,” he said.

“There are lots of new things to see at the gardens and there are so many exciting projects we have planned.”

Nene said people who were interested in viewing the progress and the new developments at the gardens were welcome to take a look this weekend.

“We are hosting an indigenous plant fair from Friday [today] until Sunday, which means free entry for everyone this weekend,” he said

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