Benvie: A KZN Gardening Gem
Throughout the years, avid horticulturists and garden enthusiasts have travelled far and wide to see beautiful gardens. A garden bound to satisfy these relentless excusions can be found in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in Benvie Garden.
Benvie has been described to boast year-round glory due to its exotic variety of plants which their bloom in turn in their respective seasons. A walk through this paradise suggests a sense of peace and tranquillity with the scents of exotic flowers and mosses wafting up in the humidity, and a patchwork of sunshine filtering through mighty ancient trees onto its’ manicured floor. This small paradise attracts a mecca of bird species, making it a birdwatchers dream.
Benvie Garden was started in 1882 by an immigrant from Scottland known as John Geekie. Geekie was a passionate tree enthusiast, and so he decided to allow his hobby to materialise in his back-garden as he planted a selection of coniferous trees. As his passion grew, so did his garden as he began importing an incredible variety of plants and seeds from all over the world to inhabit his small patch of heaven. Many of these rare plant species are still thriving in Benvie, telling the story of Geekie’s life’s passion, and new plants are also being contunously introduced. Geekies legacy lives on through who his garden which continues to be lovingly maintained by his great-granddaughter.
The garden’s climate is cool and moist and its soil is slightly acidic, providing the ideal environment for the rich variety of plants that it contains. Some of Benvie’s most rare items of flora include pines, cypresses and evergreen shrubs such as Acer palmate (Japanese maple), Osmanthus fragrans (sweet olive) and Rhododendron ponticum. It also incorporates a variety of coniferous trees including Picea smithiana (west Himalayan spruce) and Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese Cedar) Benvie is known for its iconic Rhododendrons, also known as azalea mollis, which flower in a burst of orange and yellow in late spring.
Overall, Benvie is an iconic historical garden boasting numerous rare plants species and a tranquil beauty. Whether you are a bird-watcher, a ‘horti-enthusiast’ or simply a lover of magnificent gardens and tranquillity, Benvie is certainly worth a visit!