The Green Point Park, which opened about two weeks ago, and which will receive its official blessing from the Mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato today, has transformed the area previously known as the Green Point Common into one of the most charming parks in Cape Town, making it a treasure not only for the citizens of Cape Town, but also to its visitors, and to future generations.

The Green Point Common was previously a home for the homeless, and this brought down the tone of Mouille Point and also was a danger to locals walking in the area.  In conjunction with the construction of the new Cape Town Stadium, and the redevelopment of the Metropolitan golf course, the City of Cape Town redeveloped the 12,5 ha area at a reported cost of close to R600 million, renaming it the Green Point Park.   The conditions of the development of the Park were that it be safe, that the golf course and the Park appear integrated and almost seamless, that the Park be accessible to physically challenged citizens, and that sufficient parking be made available.  All of these conditions have been admirably met, so much so that one can feel proudly-Capetonian in how well our rates and taxes have been spent in developing a park with a heritage, that will be of benefit to future generations too.

The major focus, which makes it so interesting, and having an educational angle too, is the Biodiversity showcase, the gardens having been developed along ecological principles and includes indigenous landscaping.  Recycling is part of the showcase, and bins for waste, plastic, metal and glass are available at each of the Park entrances.   To focus on best environmental practices, water from the historic Oranjezicht springs on the slopes of Table Mountain has been redirected to water the gardens, and is sufficient to cater for the irrigation needs of the Park all year round, explains the Cape Town Stadium website www.stadiumcapetown.co.za

The Green Point Park has bricked pathways on which Capetonians and their children can cycle, walk with or without their dogs, run, do exercises, read a book, use their skateboards, and meet friends safely, with security staff visible.   One can also bring a picnic basket and enjoy the beautiful views onto Signal Hill, Cape Town Stadium, Mouille Point, and the golf course.  It is planned that one can host functions at the park (a marquee is already in place for the opening function today), and that outdoor events such as markets and concerts will be held in this beautiful, largely wind-protected space.   A biodiversity nursery, a tea garden, fresh produce markets, flower sellers and bicycle rental are said to be on the cards.

But the educational side of the Park is an excellent benefit for teaching children as well as their parents about Biodiversity, and how one can develop a garden that is environmentally friendly, and does not threaten biodiversity.  Biodiversity is defined as “amazing variety of life on earth”, and is threatened by agricultural development, fire, urban development and invasive plants. The Park has a food garden, one for medicinal plants, and a demonstration garden.  Fauna is represented by buck, rabbits, and more animals, in metalwork in-between the plants.  The Park teems with bird life.  Information boards explain how the Khoikhoi sought berries in the veld, used claypots to make their variation of “potjiekos” in those days already, roasted and baked their food, and made tea from bushes.  

But the history of Cape Town is also explained in an interesting manner, with huts built by the Khoikhoi, and their food types and herbal remedies explained.   Medicinal plants such as wildeals, blousake, kooigoed, Devil’s Claw and more were used to treat aches and pains, colds and other ailments. 

 It would be wonderful if a handout with information about the Green Point Park would be made available, and a website be developed for it.  I initially struggled to find the entrance to Green Point Park.  There are five entrances: the West entrance is close to CafeNeo, the East entrance is off one of the parking areas of the Cape Town Stadium, the Southern entrance is near the Virgin Active, an entrance is off Bay Road, and another is behind the Sea Point police station.   The Green Point Park is open from 7h00 – 19h00 Mondays – Sundays, and entrance is free.  

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage