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The Secret Garden

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When you search for "gardens" and "Cape Town," you will inevitably be directed to the Company's Garden or world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Sure, those are worth a visit, but for something a little more unique and off the beaten path, I'll direct you to the Arderne Gardens.

What was once a family's private estate is now property of the city and has one of the finest collections of exotic trees in South Africa. The original owner, an English timber merchant, collected seedlings from all over the world. Six of the trees have now been distinguished for their age and significance by the City of Cape Town as 'Champion Trees,' one of the most popular trees being the vast Moreton Bay Fig in this photo. There are a few different areas within the gardens—a great lawn beneath a giant Norfolk Pine, a Japanese inspired koi pond, and one section filled with hydrangea bushes (resembling something straight out of Alice in Wonderland).

On any given weekend, you'll brush past groups of girls in bright orange or maybe turquoise taffeta dresses at the entrance. The gardens are a cultural gathering point for some in the community, and the giant fig is known as the wedding tree, where newlyweds have their photo taken. If you're looking to escape the chaos and see a hidden gem, Arderne is perfect place for a romantic stroll or afternoon picnic.

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by Marie Frei
AFAR Local Expert
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