Gardens is a suburb in Cape Town that stretches like a high heel boot from Roeland Street at the fringe of the CBD up to the Kloof Nek Pass towards Camps Bay on the opposite end. It’s arguably the trendiest suburb in the City Bowl, being split right in the middle by the vibrant Kloof Street that laden with bars, cafe’s and boutique shops. It’s also the home to the official residence of the Western Cape’s most important politician, the premier of the Western Cape. The wealthier part, also referred to as Higgovale are nestled against the slopes of Table Mountain with expansive vistas of the city, Lion’s Head and the Atlantic ocean.
The suburb is named after the market gardens that originally occupied the area around the Company Gardens up to the slopes of Table Mountain. These small farms and market gardens supplied the burgeoning colony and passing ships with meat, dairy and produce. While some small farms were swallowed up by large estates or enlarged by dynastic marriages, most succumbed to settlement creep and were subdivided into residential erven over time. Kloof Road in Gardens was also home to the very first botanical garden, Ludwigsburg, in South Africa, established by Baron Carl Ferdinand Heinrich von Ludwig. Von Ludwig acquired three acres of wasteland which he converted into a noteworthy botanical garden over the years.
Kloof Street is undeniably the heartbeat of Gardens and the surrounding suburbs of Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof. It’s a meandering road that stretches from edge of central Cape Town to the affluent Higgovale on the slopes of Table Mountain.
The street are lined with art galleries, fashion boutiques, interior design shops, restaurants and watering holes. It’s also Cape Town’s hipster paradise, with very few eateries not catering for vegans, it’s not uncommon to find someone knitting at a streetside cafeteria and almost every grocer carries kale and a variety of edible seeds.
They are held in check by the only cat capable of pulling down an antelope, the caracal. The dassie, or rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) is Table Mountains unofficial mascot and holds out on the rocky outcrops of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.
More than 20 snake species occur in the mountainous vicinity, of which 12 are venomous. have been identified on the mountain. There is nothing to fear if you are careful and sensible however, snakes are shy, retiring reptiles and are unlikely to behave aggressively unless they feel threatened.
The unique and diverse vegetation of Table Mountain National Park attracts a variety of birds, from raptors to tiny sugarbirds, a real haven for the avid bird watcher.
This bohemian style restaurant with tapas style food in an intimate setting. The discreet lighting adds a mysterious charm to the place. Go there for taste bud tingling cocktails, a mouthwatering menu and a sophisticated mingle.
Liquorice & Lime is a quaint little place where you can get anything from freshly squeezed orange juice to wake up your spirit in the morning to hearty hot and cold meals all day long. L&L also offers delicacies to take away.
Manna Epicure has a great setting on on Kloof street with an outdoor patio setting for soaking up the sun and gawking at the passersby. Inside the subtle and chic interiors finished in an all white palette provides an uplifting ambiance. The menu is not quite cheap, but neither is it expensive, with sandwich and salads from noon and nice hearty meals at dinner time.
Melissa’s is the right place for fresh and tasty food that is good value for money. They also sell baked delights and have an extensive range of gluten free products.
Visit Wine Concepts for an an impressive selection of South Africa’s top wines in each variety . They also stock spirits, beers and French Champagne.
O.live Interior Decor is filled to brim with gorgeous ceramics, linen, glassware, ribbons and an assortment of Knick-Knack and Bric-a-Bracs. The vintage pieces and contemporary items are expertly curated and beautifully displayed with a playful contrast between old and new.
The Labia Theatre is the oldest Independent Art-Repertory Cinema in South Africa, showing independent movies, foreign films, historical cinema, alternative and art circuit films. It's most probably the only cinema in South Africa that serves alcohol which makes it a great place for a social evening out.
Leeuwenhof Estate is the official residence of the Premier of the Western Cape. Leeuwenhof, Botuin and the adjoining coachman’s house arguebly constitute the most striking example of the transition from the Dutch neo-classical to the English architecture.
Johan Christiaan Brasler (Bresler) who had come from Copenhagen transformed the original homestead into the the fine mansion it is today after he bought it in 1741. Since then he main house has survived virtually unaltered in spite of the constant changes in ownership. In 1936 it was acquired by the Cape Provincial Administration for the official residence of the Administrator It was proclaimed as a National Monument in 1966 Like Leeuwenhof Estate , Welgemeend is another of the surviving Table Valley farmsteads, and the only one that is open to the public.
The Welgemeend Manor is situated on the grounds of the Jan van Riebeeck Hoërskool and houses the Boerneef Collection of South African art. Boerneef is the pen name used by the late Professor IW van der Merwe, linguist, poet, author and lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch literature. He had a passion for buying paintings and, on his death bequeathed his collection to to Jan van Riebeeck High School. The name Welgemeend means “well-intentioned”.
Harry G. Frankfurt wrote “The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept” One such instance was Cape Town’s bid for the World Design Capital title into which it poured millions of rands - and of which the packaging of the East City / Lower Gardens precinct as “The Fringe” was part and parcel.
The WDC bazaar, launched at a glittering event in London, was characterized by a celebration of craft fairs, showcasing bespoke furniture and fine ceramics , designating Lower Gardens as a “creative center” with the spoilt children of the City’s elite classes touting their digital marketing shops as the buds of Cape Town’s own “Silicone Valley”. Thankfully, due to public pressure, the city saw the error of their ways and the area went back to being the beloved but seedy Lower Gardens where the homeless can still get a meal for just 5 cents down in Canterbury Street.
The Gardens area played a pivotal role in the urbanisation of Cape Town when the original market gardens were gradually subdivided to form neighbourhood as it currently exist. Today it still maintains its village atmosphere, with tree lined streets meandering like branches from Kloof Street, it’s “marketplace. Kloof Street, the main artery of Gardens, is a hub of counter culture in a very western sense.
It provides a safe space for privileged youths and middle aged punk rock veterans to engage with their small communities in small coffee shops , connect and toy with issues such “ethical consumption” such as veganism and animal rights - the type of things that may seem completely bizarre to South Africans who struggle with more pertinent issues, but essential components of the western rites of passage.