Outing to Arderne Gardens.

05 December 2023.

Leader Daryl de Beer.


cbc outing arderne gardens 07 PD 05 dec 2023


Ralph Henry Arderne moved to Cape Town from the UK in 1830 after his wife and son died in childbirth. In 1845 he bought a 6.5 morgen portion of the Stellenberg Estate in Claremont and set about creating the garden of his dreams, with trees and plants from as many parts of the world as he could. He brought seeds and bulbs from Kew Gardens and sent messages to all the trading vessels calling in at the Cape that he was eager to obtain plants and seeds from other countries.

One of his first acquisitions was a Norfolk Island Pine from Australia, reputedly the parent plant for all Norfolk Island Pines in Cape Town. After the depression of 1905, the family were no longer able to maintain the gardens properly, and they fell into disrepair. Eventually in 1926 the City Council purchased the 4.5 hectare section spreading up from Claremont Main Road. This became known as Arderne Gardens.

The Friends of The Arderne Gardens (FOTAG) was established in 2003, with the aim of improving maintenance of the gardens and raising public awareness of them. It is an NPO working with the City Council.

On the first Saturday of every month at 10h00, a member of FOTAG leads a guided walk around the gardens. The history of the gardens is explained and the various noteworthy trees and their stories are pointed out. There is a small charge of a “minimum donation” of R50 per person for the approximately 1 hour walk. Please book via their website www.ardernegardens.org.za   or by e-mail to secretary@ardernegardens.org.za

Photograph by Daryl de Beer.

Report by Gillian Matthews.


The weather was perfect on Tuesday, 05 December for a stroll with 23 CBC members and friends through the beautiful Arderne Gardens. On entering, we were met by the horticulturist who showed us the Gardens’ birdlist of 38 species – including Marsh Owl! (Alas not seen on the day!)

One of the first birds on our list of 17 species counted was a Black Duck, swimming leisurely in one of the ponds.

The group then spent some time locating a female African Paradise Flycatcher on a nest in one of the leafy trees.

A Fork-tailed Drongo making an unusual call had the group hurrying down a side path. It was later found feeding a fledgling. There were many Bronze Mannikins on the reeds in the various ponds and a group of juveniles being fed in a tree was seen. A dark bird with a long, curved bill perched high up on a distant tree was eventually identified as an Amethyst Sunbird. A highlight, as we left the Gardens, was seeing a pale morph Booted Eagle flying overhead.

Other species seen included: Common Chaffinch, Olive Thrush, Cape Batis and African Dusky Flycatcher.

Photographs by Penny Dichmont, Gigi Laidler and Daryl de Beer.

Report by Daryl and Lynette de Beer.


New BirdLife South Africa offices.

After our walk, most of the group walked across the road to the new BirdLife South Africa offices, as Christina Hagen (who had been with us on the walk) had offered to show us around the building. Some of us had already attended the opening in November, but we were all impressed by the attractive premises. Christina showed us the bird-scaring lines in the storeroom and it was most interesting to hear her explanation of their purpose and how they worked.

The offices are in a Victorian-style building which was previously a doctors’ surgery. The make-over has kept the charm of this old building, while adding some modern and user-friendly features, such as the glass swing-doors into the library, close to the entrance.
Part of the library, near the entrance to the building

We wish BirdLife well in their new home in Cape Town.

Photograph by Penny Dichmont.

Report by Penny Dichmont.