Wetlands to show off city’s unique flora

The Friends of the Arderne Gardens (FOTAG) team from left, Jonpaul Bolus,Nikki Lomba, Jess Barrell, Rose Meny-Gibert, Andrew Ovenstone, Pamela Isdell and Hank Lith.

Arderne Gardens in Claremont has a new wetland that mimics what Cape Town would have looked like 100 000 years ago.

The new ecosystem, opened last Wednesday, is the culmination of three years of work by Friends of the Arderne Gardens (FOTAG) and others.

Fotag members, donors, City officials and representatives of various environmental groups were at the opening.

Plant conservationist Alex Lansdowne and environmental consultant Dr Elzanne Singels worked closely with Fotag on the project.

Mr Lansdowne said the wetland would help to show off Cape Town’s unique flora.

“There are the white king proteas and ericas, which are the main components of fynbos, as well as our flagship species, which is the whorled heath, which is classified as extinct in the wild,” he said.

They are part of the 50 plant species that are rehabilitated in the wetland, which will also be home to the Cape micro frog and the western leopard toad.

Dr Singels said: “The project is a start to open the public’s eyes to give people the opportunity to find out what Cape Town would have been like 100 000 years ago and for them to interact with the plants and see what it was like a long time ago.”

Landscape architect and Fotag committee member Hank Lith said his team under the leadership of Paul Barker had done much of the spadework.

“It will not only attract wetland birds and other fauna to the gardens but also more visitors to the park who cannot easily access this type of vegetation and the birds it attracts in the wild as so little of it remains,” he said.

Project donor Pamela Isdell has long been an admirer of Arderne Gardens.

“The fynbos in this wetland is local to the Cape, and we are also going to plant indigenous trees that are going to attract more birds,” she said.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health
Dr Zahid Badroodien said he was grateful for the work Fotag had done.

“They identified a niche where they were able to bring back 50 plant species that previously existed here but then disappeared, and now it is back for all our residents to appreciate and learn at any time of the day.”