African Garden at Auckland Botanic Gardens

African Plants Garden

Splashes of colour throughout the year

Visit the wilds of Africa... in Auckland

Visit the African Plants Garden in winter alongside flocks of noisy silvereye and tui feeding on the vivid aloe and protea flowers. Come again in spring for the explosion of bulbs – the Cape is the bulb capital of the world– but you can get a taste of Africa right here at Auckland Botanic Gardens. Imagine elephants and giraffe wandering by, grazing on trees like the Acacia sieberiana. With its dry herbal scents, unusual plants and busy birds there is something stimulating for all the senses in this garden.

Leucodendrons, proteas, watsonias, daises, nerines, strelitzias, freesias, gladiolus, gerberas – many plant species common to our gardens or florist shops have their origins in southern Africa. The Cape Floral Kingdom alone has a staggering 9,000 species of native plants (in comparison, New Zealand is 3 times larger and has 2,400 native species). The Cape lies on the same latitude as New Zealand and like us, has wet winters and dry summers. Most of these plants are self-sustaining – they don’t require much water and perform well in poor soils - perfect distinctive yet low-maintenance ideas for your Auckland home garden!

Watch the video about our African Garden.

Cultural
Cut flower display Auckland Botanic Gardens 2013

Now over thirty years old the African Plants  Garden was designed by Jack Hobbs with input from Joy Amos (1919-2011) who was an expert in protea’s and cut flowers. Joy worked with commercial flower growers in the early days of NZ’s cut flower industry and for forty years Joy helped us with advice on what to plant in our African Plants Garden.

The Garden promotes African plants best suited to Auckland’s climate and conditions. Plants from the Cape Floristic region (western and SW parts), with its heavy winter rainfall and drier summer, thrive in the similar environmental conditions in Auckland. Our collection focuses on aloes, proteas, bulbs, daisies, succulents, wild flowers and restios.

The Cape flora provides many of the cut flowers we buy including gladiolus, freesia, gerbera, clivia, sandersonia’s, strelitzia, and protea. Many South African flowers are long-lasting in a vase. Leucadendrons, for example, last at least two weeks (sometimes up to 3) making them a particularly useful floristry plant.

Gardening Tips for African plants
  • To make your garden suitable for South African plants chose a sunny site, never use fertilizer, and increase the drainage by mixing in pumice and sand.
  • On clay soils add extra topsoil to raise planting sites.
Conservation

Auckland Botanic Gardens staff are curating valuable southern African plants that may no longer be commercially available. Additionally, populations of species from wild-collected seed are maintained for continued horticultural use.

Research
Protea 'Clarks Red'

Protea 'Clark's Red'

Horticulturalists at Auckland Botanic Gardens are maintaining accurate records of plant performance, including flowering records, for the purpose of recommending plants suitable for Auckland. We are also encouraging breeding of Proteaceae to capture their beauty and usefulness in reliable garden hybrids.