These gardens hold very fond memories for me; a place where, as a student at the nearby Technikon Natal, I would go to escape the heat and humidity of the summer months. The gardens are absolutely beautiful; manicured lawns, massive trees, paved pathways … the perfect place to relax and escape the city.
An added attraction for me (and the underlying reason for our visit) is the Tea Garden – a facility run entirely by volunteers; they serve a selection of toasted sandwiches, crumpets with cream and syrup as well as scones with cream and jam. Tea and cold drinks are also available.
A number of tables and umbrellas are set up in a shady paved area in front of the shop and the system is easy: go up the window, place your order, slide your laden tray down to the till, pay and go! We ordered the scones and they were as enormous as I remembered them back in the 90’s and just as delicious.
The one and only drawback about the tea garden are the very pesky monkeys that lurk in the trees waiting for a chance to swoop (actually they don’t swoop at all, they brazenly walk up and jump onto your table to make off with whatever food is in front of them). There are spray bottles of water on all tables as a deterrent if they get to close but they seem to be immune to that treatment.
The garden itself is vast and there is a lot to see – one could easily spend two or three hours taking in all of what is on offer: wander around the lake, visit the Indigenous Grasslands and the Palm Walk. The Fern Dell is worth a visit as is the Herb Garden, Garden of the Senses, Japanese Garden, Sunken Gardens and Monocotyledon Garden. Don’t forget about the Wood’s Cycad and Bee Hive!
There is also the Orchid House and Curries Fountain as well as a series of sculptures, the Bell Tower and Lily Pond. As I said, there is a lot to see! You could however also just bring yourself, a blanket and picnic and while away the time reading a book in the shade of one of the many majestic trees.
Whatever you choose to do, the Gardens are most definitely worth a visit … I’m just sorry it took me 20 odd years to get back there.
Address: 70 St Thomas Road, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
Telephone for Tour Bookings: +27 (0)31 201-1303 or +27 (0)21 309-1170