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Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens: A Hidden Gem in Harare

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If you are looking for a relaxing and scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of Harare, you might want to visit the Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens.

Located about 40 kilometers north of the city, the gardens are famous for their wide range of both indigenous and exotic aloes, cycads, and succulent plants. The gardens also offer a variety of attractions for nature lovers, such as granite kopjes, miombo woodlands, water features, and abundant birdlife.


The History of the Gardens

The gardens were created by Basil Christian, a British settler who came to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in 1911 and bought the farm Mount Shannon, which he renamed Ewanrigg. The name is derived from a village in Northumberland, England, where his ancestors lived. Christian was initially interested in growing European alpine plants, but soon realised that they were not suited for the local climate and soil.

He then switched his focus to aloes, which he collected from various parts of the country and planted around his house. He also acquired many exotic species from other countries, such as Madagascar, South Africa, and Mexico. Over the years, he developed one of the largest collections of aloes and cycads in the world, with over 300 species.


Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens Harare

The Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens in Harare [Image: Facebook]


Christian was also passionate about conservation and education. He donated his farm to the National Trust of Zimbabwe in 1962, and later to the National Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) in 1975. He also established a herbarium, a library, and a nursery on the premises, and welcomed visitors and researchers from all over the world.

Christian died in 1978, at the age of 93, leaving behind a legacy of botanical excellence and generosity.


The Attractions of the Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens

The gardens cover an area of about 265 hectares, and are divided into several sections, each with its own theme and character.


Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens Harare

The Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens in Harare [Image: Facebook]

Some of the main attractions are:

  • The Aloe Ridge: This is the most prominent feature of the gardens, where hundreds of aloes are planted on a rocky ridge overlooking the lawns and the house. The aloes bloom from May to July, creating a spectacular display of colours and shapes. Some of the notable species include Aloe cameronii, Aloe excelsa, Aloe ortholopha, and Aloe cryptopoda.
  • The Cycad Collection: This is another impressive collection of plants, featuring over 50 species of cycads, which are ancient plants that resemble palms or ferns. Cycads are among the oldest living plants on earth, dating back to the Jurassic period. Some of the species in the gardens are very rare and endangered, such as Encephalartos woodii, Encephalartos altensteinii, and Encephalartos manikensis.
  • The Succulent Garden: This is a newer addition to the gardens, where various types of succulent plants are grown in a naturalistic style. Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems, or roots, and can survive in dry and harsh conditions. Some of the species in the garden include Euphorbia, Crassula, Kalanchoe, and Adenium.
  • The Water Features: The gardens have several ponds and streams that add to the beauty and tranquility of the place. The water features attract many birds and butterflies, and also provide a habitat for aquatic plants, such as water lilies, papyrus, and lotus.
  • The Kopjes and Woodlands: The gardens are surrounded by natural landscapes of granite kopjes and miombo woodlands, which offer scenic views and hiking opportunities. The kopjes are rocky outcrops that are typical of the Zimbabwean terrain, and are home to many plants and animals, such as lichens, mosses, orchids, hyraxes, and lizards. The woodlands are dominated by brachystegia trees, which are deciduous and change color in the dry season.

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The Practical Information

The gardens are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, and the entrance fee is US$5 for adults and US$2 for children. There are picnic and braai facilities available, as well as a small shop and a cafeteria. The gardens also offer guided tours, educational programs, and special events, such as plant sales and exhibitions. For more information, you can contact the gardens at +263 772 412 145 or visit their website.


The Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens are a must-see for anyone who loves plants, nature, and history. They are a testament to the vision and dedication of Basil Christian, who created a botanical paradise in the heart of Zimbabwe. The gardens are a hidden gem in Harare, and a perfect place to spend a day with family and friends.

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