Botanical Society of South Africa - Kirstenbosch Branch
Know, grow and protect South Africa's indigenous flora

presented by Keith Kirsten
Saturday 6 July 2019
Kirstenbosch Old Mutual Hall

The members of the Kirstenbosch Branch Committee and I trust you will have a most enjoyable morning with us meeting and socializing with fellow members of like mind. I would like to make a special mention regarding four outgoing committee members, namely Margaret Kahle, Natie Finkelstein, Bob von Witt and Philip Howes. All four have played a vital role over the past two years. Please four members have worked tirelessly over the past two years for the Society. Would you please give them a round of applause and would these members please come forward to receive a BotSoc Key Ring in appreciation.

The first task of this committee was to continue the work towards the important and successful Special General Meeting called for by this branch and orchestrated by head office at 5pm on Friday the 17th August 2018 at UWC (who will ever forget it). This was an overall win for civil society and a new interim Council and Constitution was voted in for both National and Branches of the Botanical Society of SA.

The next National Botanical Society AGM had to be called as per the SGM in 6 months to vote in a NEW Council which took place here on Saturday, 12th February 2019, with a new Council duly elected and Marinda Nel elected as Chair of Council.

The Kirstenbosch Branch therefore have operated for the past twelve months, appointing an office manager, Catherine Gribble on the 1st November 2018 and shortly after an assistant, Gianpaolo Gilardi, a qualified Horticulturist and previous intern of Kirstenbosch, and enthusiastic plants man. We are currently advertising for a part time Bookkeeper who will greatly assist in the administration of the branch and particularly with the Book-shops, fundraising and membership.


Paul Zammit – 4th October we had the pleasure of inviting the Director of Horticulture Toronto Botanic Gardens. To Kirstenbosch. He gave us an enlightening presentation on biodiversity and a New Garden Ethic. It is our committee’s intention to invite Paul to address us again for the good of all the BOTSOC branches.

BOOK LAUNCH – 5th December 2018 – Strelitzia’s of the World, presented by Patricia McCracken co author, who is now the editor of Veld and Flora Magazine.

BOOK LAUNCH – 17h30 on 19th March 2019 – Sand Forest of Maputaland by Francois Du Randt.

KIRSTENBOSCH BRANCH PLANT FAIR – 4th and 5th May 2019. This was a great success and welcomed by the people of Cape Town, raising in excess of R100,000. This was achieved without any sponsorship whatsoever, a lot of hard work by BOTSOC committee, staff and volunteers. It is our sincere hope that we will find a major sponsor for our plant fair on the 4th and 5th April 2020. We have a snag list of items which we will improve on next year.

Walks and Hikes – Various days of the week – See Veld and Flora, Newsletters and Facebook page.

The BOTSOC committee met at least once a month over the past year with sub committees meeting in between. These subcommittees include:

  • Plant fair
  • Bookshops
  • Conservation and Biodiversity including Hacking
  • Education and community involvement
  • BOTSOC Head office and council liaison
  • Marketing and Publicity (Server upgrade, website, social media and Newsletters)
  • Bequests, fund raising, sponsorships and donations (book publication fund, student bursary fund, Plant Fair Sponsor, Conservation and Community Projects, Kirstenbosch projects.)

BOTSOC National liaison: Margaret Kahle and I attended a branch convention on the 10th November 2018 at Walter Sisulu NBG and a Western Cape Regional Convention on the 18th May 2019 was attended by current Vice Chair Cathy Jenkins. We learn much from these meetings, being able to network with other branches, also be brought up to date with Council and Head office matters. We also learn from the good work and projects being carried out either or in progress with Head office or branches.


  • Volunteers (Potters, Herbarium, Propagation, weeding and Garden Guides) this is best illustrated by the following images. We are grateful to all members who volunteer their time and skills to both Kirstenbosch Gardens and other programs.
  • Interns (Labels and Karoo) We have recently sponsored a six- month internship for plant recording and labeling in the Kirstenbosch Gardens and are currently in discussions Werner (SANBI) an internship to assist in the Karoo NBG.
  • Fundraising (Solar): While still in progress, SANBI have agreed in principle for us to proceed with the preliminary research and terms and conditions for solar energy in the Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden and SANBI head office in Pretoria as envisaged by Philip le Roux and Chris Willis. This will be a joint project with Bot Soc Head Office AND spearheaded by the Kirstenbosch Branch under the new Collaboration agreement with SANBI. We will keep you posted in this regard. As many of you knew, this was a wish of Phillips as presented by Adam Harrower at a previous meeting of the branch when updating us on the progress in the Gardens.
  • Collaboration agreements (MOU). This agreement is currently being drawn up between National BOTSOC and SANBI with input from branches and once completed (envisaged by end of August) we will provide members with the details of this.
  • Membership cards (Biometric) BOTSOC National and SANBI (Kirstenbosch) are working hard to bring about efficient access to the NB Gardens for members. This will come into effect ASAP and again we will inform you of the latest and methodology. This is crucial for the good of both SANBI and BotSoc.

– We are currently liaising for the smooth transfer of the bookshops from BOTSOC National to the Kirstenbosch branch. We are committed to assisting and guiding other branches throughout the country who are wishing to start bookshops. We see huge potential due to the location of the Kirstenbosch bookshop to make this the premier source of professional botanical, conservation and horticultural publications and information. We have engaged a new bookshop manager by the name of Greg Donnelly who will be taking up the position on the 1 st. August 2019. He comes with good experience in book retailing. Members can look forward to some changes at the bookshop and more book launches.

Specifically, SANBI publishers as well as other publishers have a number of important new titles to be published in the future which we will be bringing to you. They include the revised and updated Wild Flowers of the Cape Peninsula (Formerly Common Wild Flowers of Table Mountain and Silver Mine by Hugh Clark and Corrine Merry.

Also, Cultures, Cures and Curiosities by Tony Dold and Susan Abrahams (Plant lore and legends of the Eastern Cape) See BotSoc website for more details.

From SANBI Vol 1-3 Flora of the Eastern Cape (only 200 sets of three) being published. Also, Flowering Plants of Southern Africa Vol 66 will be available on the 1 st August. Visit the SANBI Bookshop at for more info.

Conservation and Biodiversity – Education and Community Development - Dee Rees, Marilyn Wilford, Dayne de Wet and Mo Dalwai will all be working very hard with other volunteers to make a difference in areas of need in the Western Cape (Edith Steven’s Park and wetland for example), collaborating with CTEET, UWC and others.

This committee has a lot of work to do and we are fortunate to have an enthusiastic and dedicated team with the addition of a qualified Nature Conservationist Dayne de Wet newly elected and Mo Dalwai who has experience with youth outreach programmes.

We were recently reminded by one of our dedicated life members Julian Hare on the subject of Climate change and global warming, including species loss. Sir David Attenborough has done amazing work in the past and more recently to make governments and the world aware of the damage and control needed to save this planet. We as a Society would be failing in our duty, not to make our members and the public more acutely aware of the conservation and methods needed to reverse the destruction we have done to our planet.

In this regard we are hoping to make it possible for the screening of David Attenborough’s “The Planet” a 7 part series on a large screen at Kirstenbosch. This is in negotiation with BBC of course and whilst it might seem like a dream presently we are working hard to make this a reality. We will keep you posted. It is imperative that BOTSOC take Biodiversity and species loss seriously, including climate change and global warming. These are all interlinked. Dr Guy Preston Deputy Director General in the Dept of Environmental Affairs has also urged us to work on trying to identify emerging invasive species. As I was reminded recently we are after all the 8 th largest floral Kingdom on earth and another member reminded us that while this is true, we also hold the record in the world for the largest number of species loss. We have to reverse this trend.

Education and Community Development – Members of this sub-committee are hoping that you can help us by volunteering some your expertise and time to develop our youth project. We need members who enjoy working with children and who wish to preserve our natural heritage. For those who are interested please contact Dr. D. Rees on 071-2941368 or respond by mail to the office. (Please come to the front of the hall at the close of the meeting to meet with Dr. Rees and Marilyn Wilford).

Member events – We plan several member events during the next 12 months so please watch out for the announcements and invitations:
They include:

  • Vincent Carruthers ‘Cradle of Life lecture’ and Book Launch in October, in the Old Mutual Hall at Kirstenbosch on 9 October at 4pm in the afternoon followed by drinks and snacks.
  • Shot Hole Borer workshop – This will take place at Kirstenbosch and include SANBI staff and possibly followed by a public workshop with membership drive.
  • Lady Cynthia Tait Botanical art Exhibition (Richard Crowie Hall) Jan-March 2020. In 2105 I was approached by Raymond Evison, Vice President of The RHS and long -time friend about the Botanical Art works of a certain Lady Cynthia Tait who lived at the Cape from 1892 till 1963. John Rourke wrote an article about Lady Tait in the Veld and Flora some years ago. In fact, she was also commissioned by Bot Soc at the time to paint certain flora which are still housed in the Herbarium today. Cynthia Tait was obviously a talented Botanical artist and was awarded several RHS medals by the RHS for her work. A kind Donor has sponsored the return of 67 of these artworks to be exhibited at Kirstenbosch next year including making available a number of the superb Florilegium Book recently published on her work totally some 300 paintings. Her grand- daughter Cynthia Cormack will be travelling to SA for the opening of the exhibition. Lady Tait lived in the house ‘Lancarty’ near Kirstenbosch (in those days I believe bordering Kirstenbosch) and many of the original Protea growing in the Kirstenbosch Gardens today had their origins at Lancarty, in those days simply a wild landscape of fynbos. Be sure not to miss this exhibition. This will be great opportunity for a Bot Soc Membership Drive as we will open this exhibition to the public in high tourist season.
  •  BOTSOC Volunteers Tea Party- to be advised.
  •  Member excursions: again please watch out for details on the website and also Newsletter’s as we intend a few trips in the next 6 months.   One to the Wild flowers and one to the Harold Porter Gardens along the coastal route.
  • Kirstenbosch Tree Planting- SANBI has agreed for a Tree Planting to take place on the 25 th September, at Kirstenbosch to honour Phillip le Roux and all other staff members who have passed on in recent years. Members are invited to bring a picnic and simply come and pay tribute to Phillip and SANBI staff who have gone before us. The scheduled time is 11am but please check with the Bot Soc Office. Thank you.
  • Fundraising - Book fund, Bursary fund for students, Education fund. (Named donor funds) e.g. Philip le Roux Bursary Fund. WATCH THIS SPACE! These may be Kirstenbosch specific or in collaboration with BOTSOC National.
  • Chelsea Flower Show – BOTSOC fundraising/Sunset concert, Sponsorship of two SANBI staff members to assist with Build-up.