Gardeners’ circle report-back on March visit to the Harold Porter gardens

There were 35 of us and we were again joined by Harold Porter’s horticulturalist, Karen Wall. The effects of the January fire are very stark.  Thousands of hectares were destroyed up in the Biosphere, and much in the gardens, including the irrigation and garden beds near the entrance. To neaten the beds for the public, the Gardens staff cut back and cleaned them, which, in hindsight, was not the ideal thing to do because Fynbos does not like to be disturbed. Each species has its own regrowth pattern, some re-sprouting and some reseeding, so besides watering, one definite lesson learnt – leave nature to get on with its job. The Protea nitida, (Waboom Protea) has already resprouted just two months after the fire (see the pictures below).

“The waboom forms part of South Africa’s fynbos vegetation and lives up to expectations with its adaptations to fire. The tree-like forms are protected by an exceptionally thick layer of bark.” – PlantZAfrica (

Protea nitida, the only Protea species to form large trees yielding usable timber.

Young crimson leaves give way to mature, bluish, sea-green leaves.

These days, Protea nitidia is a popular garden specimen.

In summary, after a fire:

  • Don’t cut, don’t move and let nature do its work.
  • Every stick and every rock is a form of protection for fragile new plants, so try not to disturb them.
  • Once a plant starts greening, you can cut off dead branches, but leave tall branches for the birds to perch on.
  • Dead branches are valuable biomass, so try to keep them by mulching or loosely placing them around the garden.
  • Water regularly, if possible.
  • Different areas will grow at different rates because of the diversity of soils (clay, sand, dune, rock), wind (severity, direction, protection) and rainfall.

Thanks to Dave, Tim, Rosalind, Nicolette and Rea for being available as small group leaders. There is so much knowledge to be shared and so much still to learn.

Thank you to Llowellon Arendse of the Gardens for allowing us free access into the gardens.

 For your information, here is the link for the Kogelberg Branch BotSoc Facebook page: click the “Like” button on the page so that anything that is posted on the page will show up on your Facebook News Feed:

Please join the Fynbos Gardeners’ Circle Facebook group by clicking on

Barbara Jenman, Committee member

Cell: 082 338 4109