Cities often have, in their suburbs, places of interest and beauty. Cape Town is such a city. This particular place is the Arderne Garden in the suburb of Claremont. It is well known to brides as a place to take wedding photographs, also known to those homes near to it but there are many other citizens who have not heard of it. It seems to be quietly tucked away in all its greenery.
Its history came into being as far back as 1830 when a young man, Ralph Henry Arderne on his way to Australia decided instead to settle at the Cape Colony. Soon he began earning a living as an upholsterer. Later he married Joanna Allsopp, moved away in 1837 from Cape Town to a house in Claremont named “Utkinton” after a property the Ardernes had owned in Tarporley, Cheshire. But his dream was to create a garden, a special garden to plant trees and other plants from various parts of the world.
His dream came closer when, in 1845, he bought six morgen of land. He named it “The Hill” again a reference to a family farm in Cheshire. He had a link with the Kew Garden in Britain from where he received plants and to where he sent plants. Captains of ships calling at Cape Town were asked to bring him plant specimens and these constantly arrived. Ralph Henry Arderne died in 1885. His son Henry Mathew Arderne bought “The Hill” added to the garden and opened it if people applied to see it. In 1927 the then Cape Town Municipality, to their credit, realizing what a loss it would be if the garden area was cut up into residential plots, bought it from the owner.
The legacy of Ralph Henry Arderne is that today we have the pleasure of viewing some of these giant trees with their aging but strong, root system well above the soil.