Pick PMB (picpmb.co.za) - Blog 006 - 14 November 2011
Pietermaritzburg/Msunduzi National Botanical Garden

This past Saturday I accompanied my daughter in order to assist her with the children, whilst she did some of their (and my) Christmas shopping. We did the shopping in the toy aisles of Makro. I was impressed by what was available. I was even more impressed when I noticed that they had Leapfrog toys on the shelves. Earlier in the week, I had tried to buy Leapfrog toys from Amazon, but they would not deliver them to South Africa. Surprisingly, they also would not even deliver them to Australia, my recently established back-door to South Africa.

When we had done the shopping, we decided to take the kids to the National Botanical Gardens for the mandatory stroll down the Plain Tree Avenue, and some refreshments at the relatively new restaurant/tearoom. The 100+ year old Plain Tree Avenue remains as majestic as ever. The gardens in general are also not too bad and certainly worth a visit. Unfortunately the new restaurant/tearoom is closed, and has apparently been closed for some months. So no tea. Nor could the boys refresh themselves in the new restrooms as the mens restroom was out of order. So no pee either.

The rest of the visit was saved by the walk through the gardens. The trees there are magnificent. Some now lack labels, however that could never detract from their magnificence. For me, and I am sure many others, they are truely a National Treasure.

As we drove home, I could not help compare Makro (read Massmart) and the National Botanical Gardens. The one is a thriving as a private enterprise, and the other is struggling as a parastatal. The nationalization debate remains a thorny issue in South Africa. My view is that the state should do less and do it a lot better, and it should be nurturing national treasures such as the Botanical Gardens in Pietermaritzburg/Msunduzi.

Robert Dempster E-mail address [email protected]