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A photographic walk around Gardens, a Cape Town suburb

Updated on October 11, 2012

Gardens - an old Cape Town suburb

When the first white settlers arrived in what is now Cape Town in 1652 a garden was started to grow fresh produce for the ships of the Dutch East India Company. This garden, still known as "The Company's Gardens", is now a botanical garden. The suburb of Cape Town to the south of it takes its name from it, Gardens.

This suburb lies on the northern slopes of Table Mountain and Lion's Head, to the west.

It is an up-market suburb mostly populated by young professionals. Many of the houses in the suburb are relatively old. While on a brief holiday in Cape Town just before Christmas 2010 I stayed with my family in a holiday apartment there and one morning took a stroll up the lower slopes of the mountain. The accompanying photos are the result of this stroll.

The Mountains

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The western end of Table Mountin with the upper and lower cable stationsLion's HeadGardens is always dominated by Table MountainKloof Nek separates the two mountainsThe upper cable stationThe two cable cars. When one goes up the other comes down.Clouds and mist obscure the mountainTrees on Lion's Head loomikng through the mist
The western end of Table Mountin with the upper and lower cable stations
The western end of Table Mountin with the upper and lower cable stations
Lion's Head
Lion's Head
Gardens is always dominated by Table Mountain
Gardens is always dominated by Table Mountain
Kloof Nek separates the two mountains
Kloof Nek separates the two mountains
The upper cable station
The upper cable station
The two cable cars. When one goes up the other comes down.
The two cable cars. When one goes up the other comes down.
Clouds and mist obscure the mountain
Clouds and mist obscure the mountain
Trees on Lion's Head loomikng through the mist
Trees on Lion's Head loomikng through the mist

The Mountains

The shape and feel of Gardens as a suburb is dicatated by the two mountains, Table Mountain and Lion's Head.

Table Mountain is part of the range of mountains that form the Cape Peninsular.

The first European to climb it was Portuguese explorer António de Saldanha, who also named it, in 1503.

The cableway was first opened in 1929 and was upgraded in 1997. The new cable cars rotate on the journey up and down, giving the maximum 65 passengers panoramic views over the city and Table Bay.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wherever one is in Gardens the mountain is there too!From our apartment window this little street looked inviting, so I decided to walk up it. It is Welgemeend StreetSaw this intersting looking Victorian facade from our apprtment window and decided to go and look for it.The house whose facade I had spotted from our apartment. It is in Hofmeyr Street.
Wherever one is in Gardens the mountain is there too!
Wherever one is in Gardens the mountain is there too!
From our apartment window this little street looked inviting, so I decided to walk up it. It is Welgemeend Street
From our apartment window this little street looked inviting, so I decided to walk up it. It is Welgemeend Street
Saw this intersting looking Victorian facade from our apprtment window and decided to go and look for it.
Saw this intersting looking Victorian facade from our apprtment window and decided to go and look for it.
The house whose facade I had spotted from our apartment. It is in Hofmeyr Street.
The house whose facade I had spotted from our apartment. It is in Hofmeyr Street.

A walk in the Garden!

Gardens is full of mostly Victorian houses with often quaint looking facades.

I noticed one in particular from the window of our appartment and decided to go and look for it. This took me on a very pleasant early morning stroll through the lovely streets of Gardens.

I did not have time to do any research about any of the buildings excpet the one I could not get close to, Leeuwenhof.

What came to me as I looked at these houses was that the architects produced buildings, domestic architecture, that had a sense of style and purpose with human dimensions.

The houses have a certain unselfconscious charm and settledness which was somewhat offset for me by the awareness that the wealth that enabled their building was created from a degree of exploitation that today would not be acceptable, and was no doubt not acceptable to those who suffered from it at the time.

The conundrum of beauty produced through injustice haunts me - a question for which as yet I have no answer, but which unsettles me. Is there, in fact, an answer?

In the light of the loveliness of the day and the beauty of the buildings I decided to just enjoy the experience and let the question lie quietly in the back of my mind. But I knew it would come back!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Some of the buildings in the subrub have interesting dcetails, like this one and the one below.The only view I could get of the beautiful house Leeuwenhof, residence of the Premier of the Western Cape ProvincePine trees show the effect of the frequent winds which blow up and down the mountain
Some of the buildings in the subrub have interesting dcetails, like this one and the one below.
Some of the buildings in the subrub have interesting dcetails, like this one and the one below.
The only view I could get of the beautiful house Leeuwenhof, residence of the Premier of the Western Cape Province
The only view I could get of the beautiful house Leeuwenhof, residence of the Premier of the Western Cape Province
Pine trees show the effect of the frequent winds which blow up and down the mountain
Pine trees show the effect of the frequent winds which blow up and down the mountain

Leewenhof

Leeuwehof was a farm on the northern slopes of Table Mountain originating from the late 17th Century. It was a farm (or "tuin" in the contemporary usage of the word) from which the citizens of Cape Town were able to obtain fruit and vegetables, and other foodstuffs.

A number of such small farms were clustered around the streams which flowed down the mountain, fed by the frequent cloud cover and resultant rain.

The farm had slave quarters which have recently been renovated and restored. The number of slaves brought to the Cape over a period of about 180 years has been estimated at 63000.

At the time of the opening of the refurbished slave quarters then Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Scahlkwyk (now Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) said: "There is no true history of slave masters without the history of the slaves. It is vital for us to embrace every strand of our history, and to explore the legacies of all communities if we are to draw from them and to learn from our past."

I was unable to get close to the great house as one needs special permission to go into the grounds, so I had to be content with the accompanying photo shot through the security fence.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This lovely old house in Kloof Street is now a librarySome old shops in Kloof StreetBeautiful Georgian facade in Hof Street.Part of the same building in Hof StreetFacade of block of flats. The date shows 1915.Row of terrace houses. Not too many of these left.
This lovely old house in Kloof Street is now a library
This lovely old house in Kloof Street is now a library
Some old shops in Kloof Street
Some old shops in Kloof Street
Beautiful Georgian facade in Hof Street.
Beautiful Georgian facade in Hof Street.
Part of the same building in Hof Street
Part of the same building in Hof Street
Facade of block of flats. The date shows 1915.
Facade of block of flats. The date shows 1915.
Row of terrace houses. Not too many of these left.
Row of terrace houses. Not too many of these left.

Where I walked

From our apartment in Camp Street I walked up Welgemeend Street past some lovely early 20th Century bungalows, then turned into Hofmeyr Street where the beautiful Victorian double stories were.

Hofmeyr is a lovely, leafy street, very quiet the morning I walked it. The houses were beautiful, though not easy to photograph.

The sky was an incredibly deep blue, brilliantly off-setting the colours of the housees.

From Hofmeyr I turned left into Kloof Street and saw the quaint house which is now the Kloof Street Library, and above it some old shops.

From Kloof Street I turned left into Kotze and from Kotze into Hof Street, the street in which Leewenhof is situated. In Hof Street is also the beautiful, somewhat austere Georgian building which I think might be Waterhof, though I could find not signs to indicate the name of the building.

I walked all the way down Hof Street until I came to the old reservoir which I walked around and took the photo of the pine trees.

Then back to our apartment and breakfast!

All the photos I took are available here.


The route of my stroll

Copyright notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2011

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    • profile image

      Jaume Saladrigas Cussons 

      7 years ago

      Tamboerskloof, Vredehoek, Oranjezicht and Gardens, all bring very fond memories. In Tamboerskloof is where I first lived in Cape Town; Kloof Neck Road. A small flat that friends let me. I would walk down Long or Kloof Road. All the way to town. Sundays, if the weather was good, lunch in that Portuguese Café, inside the Company Gardens -great bobotie and amazin lamb curry and rice!

      Tony, thank you very much. Your hub is fantastic and your work is something else!

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Coll - thanks for the kind words, and you're most welcome!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • profile image

      CollB 

      7 years ago

      A lovely tour and photos! Thanks for sharing them with us.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Dr Pervez - thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such lovely comment. Thanks also for the comment about my granddaughter. She is very sweet and I love her!

      Life is indeed precious - thanks for the reminder!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • drdspervez profile image

      drdspervez 

      7 years ago from Pakistan

      tonymac04 ! It's a nice hub and I have been to CAPE TOWN,It's a beautiful place.You have posted your granddaughter's photograph with you and she is very sweet.It's interesting to know that you keep yourself busy at this stage,here I would like to Quote' LIFE IS PRECIOUS HANDLE IT WITH CARE'.

      DR. DURRESHAHWAR PERVEZ

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Mysterylady - thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. I appreciate it.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Tony, I enjoyed your stroll on such a lovely day, and I also enjoyed your pictures. I understand your inner conflict - the dichotomy between today's beauty and the ugly past.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Lionel - I thank you BIG TIME! Your kind words did wonders for me, thanks. I really appreciate them.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      T. Sally - thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I am truly gratified that you enjoyed this little stroll with me!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Audrey - you are most welcome! And thanks for the super comment.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • lionel1 profile image

      lionel1 

      7 years ago

      Wow you've really given us a treat this time.

      The views are amazing especially the Mountains.

      I hope you understand the incredible work that you're doing bringing us these remarkable hubs.

      The photographic walk around Gardens, a Cape Town suburb was fantastic and we thank you BIG TIME.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      What a beautiful tour - complete with pictures. Thanks! I love the Camus friend quote in your bio. That's what I felt like on your tour - a friend. Thanks

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I enjoyed this trip so very much! You certainly put a lot of work into this fine hub. The photos made me feel as though I were right there. I love the gardens and homes. Thank you for bringing this to me.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Sally - thanks for stopping by and leaving such a great comment. The light in Cape Town in summer is truly wonderful and I'm glad that it came through in the photos. I was some years ago in southern Portugal and the light there was similar so I think you are right about the south of Spain.

      Also the buildings, being mostly white, do contribute to the quality of the light.

      Thanks again for stopping by. I appreciate your taking the time.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 

      7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Tony, thank you so much for this lovely walking tour.

      I was particularly enchanted by the quality of light in your photos. The light is reminiscent of more than rock mountains bordered by the sea, but I can't put my finger on exactly where I've sensed something similar...perhaps in the south of Spain, perhaps in southern California. I've never been to South Africa, so it wasn't there! I'm sure it's got something also to do with the blaze of white buldings under such a clear sky. Whatever quality this is that I can't quite locate in my mind also seems to be accompanied by a distinct feeling to the air as it is sensed both on the skin and in a breath. I just have this odd feeling that if I were to be dropped magically in the middle of Gardens but only allowed to view the rocks and sky and feel the air, I'd know exactly where I was. Wonderfully evocative photos. Voted up and beautiful.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Ruby - thanks for stopping by and especially for the very kind words. Much appreciated and I'm glad you enjoyed this Hub.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Amillar - I do it on purpose! I want you to feel jealous! Just kidding - really hoping to brighten up you cold days with some South African warmth.

      Glad you enjoyed the stroll - and yes, no use to dwell to long on the issue of the origin of the wealth!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is another brilliant hub.I love the old colonial homes and gardens.I learn so much from your historical writings.Thank you.

      Cheers

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 

      7 years ago from Scotland, UK

      Interesting houses very clean looking, and ornate. It's probably best that we don't ask how the wealth was acquired, to build them.

      BTW, you did the same thing last year in mid-winter (here) - teasing me with pictures of all that lovely weather.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Amy - I do hope your Tarot reading is right. You would love Cape Town and that little walk I took is but one of many that the city offers.

      As for visiting Martie - she lives more than 1000 kilometres from Cape Town! But I'm sure you could manage to mee up anyway.

      Thanks for stopping by and I sure hope you get to South Africa soon!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Thougtforce - thanks so much for stopping by. I think greed spoils a lot of things. The mountains are awesome - you really should come and see them! Worth coming all the way from icy Sweden to see them!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Micky my brother! You are always so kind to me. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I hope my Tarot card reading is correct and there is not only self discovery, but travel in my future. I would love to head to Cape Town and not only take in the same stroll, but meet my friend, Martie! What a trip! Great, enjoyable read, tonymac04.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Doug - it was my pleasure, truly! Glad you enjoyed my little sunshine tour!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Guy - great to meet another Pretorianer here! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoyed the stroll.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Peggy - thanks for stopping by. It is a lovely part of Cape Town with the mountains always so close and the old tress lining the streets, not to mention the fascinating architecture.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Ingenira - thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Catherine - so glad you enjoyed the stroll! Thanks for stopping by. When are you going to come back for a visit?

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Taff - thanks for stopping by and commenting. The scenery is indeed wonderful. Coincidentally met my wife's Uncle Taff while in Cape Town this time - he has been here for many, many years and the Welsh accent is still wonderful!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Martie - haven't heard the name "Jan van Hunks" in years! Thanks for reviving the memory! The day was just beautiful and the walk ideal. Couldn't help thinking about the slaves and all, though!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      SXophia - thanks so much for the visit and the comment. I love Tamboerskloof too!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      I do enjoy your routes in your neigbour, and the interesting history that comes with it! Every place has both good and bad memories. The bad memories is often due to human gread, and it is very sad. But I must say that the buildings on the photos are very beautiful. And that lovely mountain, it should be great to se it live. Thanks for the stroll!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Awesomely beautiful brother Tony! Thanks Bud! I do love the pictures!

    • profile image

      Doug Turner Jr. 

      7 years ago

      Sounds like a pleasant place. Thanks for taking me on a little vacation -- I needed to get away from this harsh winter!

    • guymclaren profile image

      guymclaren 

      7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I lived in Oranjezicht many years ago. These photos brought back some good memories thanks Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Acer - thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the wtroll.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a great way to feature the Gardens by way of a stroll with your camera in hand. Nice way to see the mountains and homes and businesses in this Cape Town suburb. It is a lovely area. Thank you!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 

      7 years ago

      beautiful photos... thanks for a nice walk through the Gardens.

    • Catherine R profile image

      Catherine R 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I grew up in Oranjezicht and more recently lived in Tamboerskloof. These roads and your route are very familiar to me and a lovely trip down memory lane. Made me quite homesick in fact! So beautiful....

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      7 years ago from South Wales

      A really nice stroll, Tony. I have relatives in Cape town and I envy this scenery. Thanks for this hub.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Tony, you shot those pictures on a wonderful, clear day.... Old Jan van Hunks and the devil did not smoke their pipes that day :) The Gardens is indeed a beautiful, picturesque suburb, so typical Victorian, and yes, a relic of the time of slavery. I appreciate this hub tremendously, because I love old houses and buildings. And to think our old buildings are very-very young comparing to those in Europe! Thanks for sharing, my friend. Take care!

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 

      7 years ago

      Spent a decade in Cape Town. When I used to live in Tamboerskloor, I often used to walk through the gardens. My sister still lives there... :)

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      A delightful tour,Tony;)

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