This is the first in a series about the historic Company’s Garden in the centre of Cape Town. Originally designed as a fresh produce garden for passing ships, it has now become a beautiful space for all to enjoy and is full of history.
We love our City Tour and the best part is walking through the Company’s Garden, especially when it’s as sizzling hot as it has been lately! The trees give wonderful shade so we really hope that we don’t continue to lose trees at the rate we have been.
First the enormous eucalyptus tree in front of the restaurant came crashing down last year. Luckily it missed the building and happened at night so there was no-one nearby. It’s a very sad loss because that tree was especially large and provided wonderful shade and focal point for the outdoor area of the restaurant.
Incidentally, the restaurant has been taken over by new management and has undergone quite a change. I was a bit dubious at first because I rather liked the old fashioned previous establishment but I’m rather pleased with the new Company’s Garden Restaurant. We need a quick light lunch on the City Tour and this menu offers delicious salads and sandwiches, in addition to larger dishes. Service is fast and efficient and you couldn’t ask for a better setting.
The other tree that recently ‘died’ was also very special. There is a very old well in the garden – one of only 3 left in Cape Town – from the days when it was a vegetable garden supplying passing ships with fresh produce. Everyone enjoys pointing out the 1842 pump which was lifted by an oak tree and has now become embedded in the trunk, at quite a height!
Sadly, that poor old tree also collapsed and died a few months ago. It was completely rotten and it just fell over. Oaks don’t survive very long in this country because they grow too fast! The section of trunk with the pump and tap has been kept and is currently awaiting the next stage of its life. It will apparently be restored to its original position – this should be quite an undertaking!
Recently, while having lunch at the restaurant the singing of birds was broken by the sound of a chain saw. On investigating I discovered that another tree is feeling the weight of old-age. It was a Natal Fig, Ficus Natalensis – the top half seems to have fallen over and tree fellers were still busy dealing with the branches but it looks as if the tree will be cut right back.
These trees are probably the most awesome aspect of the Company’s Garden – some of them are enormous, beautifully twisted and gnarled, and even the oldest one known to have been planted by the settlers – a Saffran pear tree – is still standing, albeit held up by poles, and still bears fruit!
Thanks to Sheila Wilson for taking these photographs.