Core Values

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is a key focus for the Durban Botanic Gardens, as we look at the preservation and conservation of plants species and their habitats.

Prominent biodiversity examples at the Durban Botanic Gardens include the Indigenous Butterfly Habitat Garden, Biodiversity House, the wild bird population and of course the many small organisms – many of them microscopic – is ultimately where life is really diverse!

Education

Education, along with plant conservation, is what makes us a botanic gardens. Botanic Gardens have traditionally been learning spaces and places dating back to the physic gardens of Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Durban Botanic Gardens, we believe, provides a wonderful bridge to nature. Learning about plants is essential for the development of a more eco-literate and environmentally responsible society in which the threats of biodiversity and key environmental issues, like climate change, are clearly understood and acted upon.

At the Durban Botanic Gardens we place a special emphasis on our Gardens-based schools programme, that is aimed at not just curriculum connections but lifelong learning connections involving the world of plants and the intimate connections with human culture. To find out more about these programmes click here.

People & plants

Every plant in the Durban Botanic Gardens has a story to tell – often multiple stories that can be told by the multitude of cultures that have associated themselves with a particular plant species – be it for food, medicine, shelter etc. What makes a botanic garden a rich storehouse is the knowledge that develops from learning about the relationships between people, plants and culture. People create gardens based on their view of nature and the need for a place of sanctuary, where nature and culture can fuse.

Heritage

The heritage of the Gardens is the fuel that inspires us; it speaks to the identity of the Gardens and where it is headed. Heritage is not antiquated, nor is it old or stale but is refreshed every time we ask why the Durban Botanic Gardens is an important, special and significant place for our many local, and international visitors who frequent the Gardens throughout the year – best part of all: it’s free to enter! One of the special attributes is the inter-generational connections that have developed over time.

This is simply because the Gardens having been here since 1851 on its present site has seen many a wedding, birthday party and other memorable life moment celebrated over the years. Our visitors return over time and so do their children and their children’s children.

Research

The Durban Botanic Gardens has, over the years, provided a place for students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level to undertake research projects. We have firm relationships in place with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Botany, Horticulture, Ecotourism, Art, Design, Photography and many other students are inspired by the Gardens at multiple levels.

Horticulture

The culture of gardening is as old as human civilisation. The need to have a cultivated garden area to grow not only food plants but plants simply for their beauty or aesthetic qualities has been captivating humans since we first encountered the natural world. Plant exploration initially expanded the palate of the horticulturist. More recently, we have witnessed the renewed interest in local and more nature-based garden design to the extent of mimicking how nature designs (ecological infrastructure, biomimicry) are inspiring urban designs of the future. Our horticultural programme supports the garden landscape and maintenance of plant collections in the Gardens.

A beautiful garden is constant work and in itself is a lifelong journey of learning about individual plant growth and response, soils, plant nutrition, cultivation and care. From turf management to orchid cultivation and care, to our arboriculture programme that looks after the tree collection, or arboretum of the Gardens; the science, art and practise of horticulture is broad and the opportunity to specialise great. The Durban Botanic Gardens is proud of its horticultural traditions, having trained some of our country’s top horticulturists.

Culture

A garden is both art and landscape; a cultural creative expression. It is therefore not surprising that visual and performing arts feel at home in a public garden like the Durban Botanic Gardens. The Music at the Lake series, being a brand in itself, is a proud performing arts tradition of the Gardens.

Art is often vivified and enhanced through its message and meaning in a garden. One of the key unique features of a botanic gardens that perhaps sets it apart from other gardens and landscapes is its ability and propensity to interpret.