Friday, July 11, 2014

Bitten by the Boomslang

After a good lunch in the winter sunshine, my lovely friend Marijke Honig* led me up a garden path through the rockery at Kirstenbosch.

In the Cape winter, it is aloe season, and  bright sunbirds were twitttering amongst the high flowers. I am an IDIOT not to have brought the telephoto to South Africa. Yes, Vince, you were right, I was wrong. Again.

We were heading to the foot of The Boomslang, the affectionate name for what is properly known as The Kirstenbosch Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, built to celebrate Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden's 100th birthday, this year.

Perhaps the common name is partly responsible for its astounding success (the garden has drawn record numbers of winter visitors, making even in-season summer tallies pale by comparison). 

Boomslang means tree snake (for curious non-South Africans, the pronunciation is kind of along the lines of WORM-tongue). The walkway is inspired by the skeleton of a snake. And a boomslang is a timid green, tree-dwelling South African reptile with a deadly bite.

The structure is stunning. In design, in execution, in effect.

The architect is Mark Thomas, the engineering firm Henry Fagan and Partners.

The view across the Cape Flats, as the snake spine vibrates under your feet.

* Look out for Marijke's book Indigenous Plant Palettes, later this year, published by Quivertree. *


  1. Wow, it's actually quite nice... Is it steady? It would make for a great 360 pano...

  2. Stunning. I have to visit South Africa one day. Maybe you can remind us when your friend's book comes out. Will it be available in the U.S.?

  3. Beautiful! It looks like you have a lovely day for your visit too.

    1. It was a stunning day. So different from the carwash effect of the flipside of Cape winters.

  4. Good lord, Marie! That was one hell of a title "hook." For a moment...
    And I still think I could walk the 'slang.


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