01 February 2013

A cool stroll down the Avenue

February already! And the photo from the Kirstenbosch 100 years, then and now: 2013 calendar is of the cool, Camphor Avenue in late summer, complete with Cape Primroses (Streptocarpus) in full flower. The original camphor trees were planted in 1898 by Cecil John Rhodes. The path of this road was the old wagon road, probably in use since the 1600s, for dragging timber from the forested slopes of Table Mountain. In 1916 the Camphor Avenue section, between the Visitor's Centre entrance and the Rycroft Gate was closed to traffic, which was diverted along the 1914 deviation road through the nursery. In 1940, Camphor Avenue was made into an access road to the herbarium, now the Garden Office. Prof. Rycroft, the third director of Kirstenbosch, prevented the Camphor Avenue from being demolished and converted into a motorway. In 1957 he had the entire section of the public road that affected the garden diverted away from Kirstenbosch to its current position along the boundary, and in the 1970s, when the City of Cape Town planned to route a new freeway through Kirstenbosch, he led, and won, the campaign against the freeway which became known as the "Battle of the Road".
Read Graham Duncan's article A Quiet walk down the Camphor Avenue from the September 1990 edition of Veld & Flora here 
This photo of the Camphor Avenue was taken around 1918 (Elliott Collection).
The Camphor Avenue around 1930 (Elliott Collection).

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