First Day in Harare – The National Botanical Gardens

I am guesting at the home of a friend, a fairly typical upmarket Harare suburban home, so my first morning was disrupted first by the unpleasant effects of a hangover, and secondly by the riotous sounds of birdlife that, under different circumstances, is one of the loveliest aspects of this lovely city. Below is a picture of the garden, which is also fairly typical of Harare suburban life. It is December, of course, and in the midst of the annual rains, so the life and color visible is probably a little exaggerated. It is just a shame that the accompanying bird song is not audible in the background.

Harare Suburban Garden

Harare National Botanical Gardens

The most obvious place to step out and get a little fresh air this morning was the Harare Botanical Gardens, located not too far from the Presidential Palace and is one of the better local city suburbs. It is also the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, and as such it is somewhat maintained, but it s still pretty grubby as most public facilities in this declining country are. At one time it was a celebrated facility, a true Botanical garden, inasmuch as it featured structured environments replicating the various bush ecologies of Southern Africa, but also Australia and other broadly similar southern hemisphere locations. Currently, though, it is more of a park for the convenience of local residence, with the sigh of gardeners walking the dogs of their employers more common than the dog owners themselves – something of a statement on the elitist attitude of many of the more wealth residents of this city.

For someone interested in a vignette of the local highveld, a unique style of woodland known as Miombo – deciduous open parkland with a great variety of trees and wild flowers, arguably one of the the most beautiful natural landscapes of Africa. It is also a fantastic birdwatching destination within Harare because Miombo woodland is a very rich bird environment indeed, and this area in particular, because it tends to be informed a little by the amazing floral diversity of the surrounding suburban gardens.

Perhaps the best way to showcase this little suburban paradise is to include a gallery, but bear in mind as you peruse these pics that they were taken in December, not the most flattering time for the Zimbabwe bush, but is should still tantalize you to visit the gardens should you ever be in Harare.