Botanic Garden brings the desert to the capital

Botanic Garden brings the desert to the capital

FANS of desert plants can now visit the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) in Windhoek to take a closer look at their favourite plant species.

The Desert House, as it is called, houses over 200 species of rare and protected desert plants from the southern and central Namib and the Sperrgebiet. In the Desert House, there is range of summer and winter bulbs, aloes, stone plants, terlagoniums, Bushman candles, pachypodium and crassulas.These plants cannot be grown anywhere else in the Botanic Garden because they need to be protected from rain during the summer months, frost during winter and the ever-hungry rock hyraxes that roam the garden.To set up a habitat for plants from the Sperr­gebiet and the central Namib, rocks and sand from these areas have been brought in.When it seemed the project had reached a dead end because of financial problems, some good Samaritans came to its rescue.In 2004, VKE – an engineering company working on upgrading the road between Aus and Rosh Pinah – heard of the institute’s problems and offered to deliver a consignment of desert rocks to the garden in Windhoek.However, the ten tons of rock was soon used up and a large area remained to be landscaped.Luckily, Roessing Uranium came on board and offered another load of rocks, which was delivered last November.The third consignment delivered by the uranium-mining company UraMin followed in July this year.Sand was sourced from a farm south of Windhoek while plants were obtained from the Scorpion Zinc Mine and the NamDeb mining concession area.Twenty-three tons of rocks and six tons of sand were required to complete the project, which took three years.The Desert House was officially opened last Thursday by the Deputy Director for Training in the Ministry of Environment, Johanna Andowa.Andowa said the Desert House would play a vital role in environmental education, by creating appreciation and awareness of Namibia’s indigenous plants among Namibians and tourists alike.She said most of the plants found in the Desert House are rare or protected species which occur only in Namibia, often being confined to remote or inaccessible places like the Sperrgebiet.”Desert House provides an opportunity for Namibians and tourists alike to see some of these plants without having to travel great distances to remote places,” said Andowa.The Desert House is an integral part of the National Botanic Garden of the NBRI.Throughout the year, schoolchildren, students and other interested people visit the garden to learn about Namibia’s flora, while guided walks are also offered regularly.In the Desert House, there is range of summer and winter bulbs, aloes, stone plants, terlagoniums, Bushman candles, pachypodium and crassulas.These plants cannot be grown anywhere else in the Botanic Garden because they need to be protected from rain during the summer months, frost during winter and the ever-hungry rock hyraxes that roam the garden. To set up a habitat for plants from the Sperr­gebiet and the central Namib, rocks and sand from these areas have been brought in.When it seemed the project had reached a dead end because of financial problems, some good Samaritans came to its rescue.In 2004, VKE – an engineering company working on upgrading the road between Aus and Rosh Pinah – heard of the institute’s problems and offered to deliver a consignment of desert rocks to the garden in Windhoek.However, the ten tons of rock was soon used up and a large area remained to be landscaped.Luckily, Roessing Uranium came on board and offered another load of rocks, which was delivered last November.The third consignment delivered by the uranium-mining company UraMin followed in July this year.Sand was sourced from a farm south of Windhoek while plants were obtained from the Scorpion Zinc Mine and the NamDeb mining concession area.Twenty-three tons of rocks and six tons of sand were required to complete the project, which took three years.The Desert House was officially opened last Thursday by the Deputy Director for Training in the Ministry of Environment, Johanna Andowa.Andowa said the Desert House would play a vital role in environmental education, by creating appreciation and awareness of Namibia’s indigenous plants among Namibians and tourists alike.She said most of the plants found in the Desert House are rare or protected species which occur only in Namibia, often being confined to remote or inaccessible places like the Sperrgebiet.”Desert House provides an opportunity for Namibians and tourists alike to see some of these plants without having to travel great distances to remote places,” said Andowa.The Desert House is an integral part of the National Botanic Garden of the NBRI.Throughout the year, schoolchildren, students and other interested people visit the garden to learn about Namibia’s flora, while guided walks are also offered regularly.

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