Did you know?
Some spring wild flowers, like mesembs and gazanias, only open fully in the late morning.
The Karoo Desert Botanical Gardens, at the foot of the Hex River mountains near Worcester, are famous for being the only true succulent gardens in the southern hemisphere. This falls within the Karoo biome, which also includes the Namaqualand desert wild flower region further north.
These botanical gardens are only 120km from Cape Town and offer a spectacular floral experience, particularly in spring when the vygies (mesembs) come into flower from August to the end of September.
The garden was originally located at a railway siding at White Hill, 5km east of Matjiesfontein in the Karoo, because the local station master, a Mr J Archer, had a passion for succulents.
However, due to a lack of water at Matjiesfontein and the rerouting of the N1, the garden was moved to Worcester in 1945. A Swiss horticulturist based at Kirstenbosch, Mr J Thudichum, became the first curator of the garden and personally relocated and hand-watered many of the plants, including the quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) that are still to be seen in the spot that he planted them.
Today, about 400 plant species occur naturally and this botanical garden is also home to 300 protected species that are being propagated here. About 144ha of the gardens are maintained as a nature reserve featuring many hiking trails. The garden is also home to 70 species of birds and a wide range of small mammals such as the Cape grey duiker.
This special botanical attraction has a plant maze, Braille trail, organised tours and a nursery stocked with indigenous species. It offers a totally unique view of some of South Africa's most colourfully spectacular flowers and plants.