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Then & Now: No beds of roses in these once-famed gardens

A postcard showing the rose garden in Jameson Park.

A postcard showing the rose garden in Jameson Park.

Published Jan 22, 2022

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Durban - The old picture this week is from a post card that shows the famed rose garden in Morningside’s Jameson Park.

Once boasting more than 600 rose bushes with 200 species of rose, the park, as Shelley Kjonstad’s pictures show today, is sadly just grassed over. Kjonstad said while park workers seemed evident around the park, it certainly bore none of the signs of maintenance that marks neighbouring Mitchell Park.

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What remains of the rose garden at Jameson Park today. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

On the Facebook page Durban Down Memory Lane, many a Durbanite remembered having their wedding photographs taken in the park, lamenting the loss of a place of beauty. Others remembered walking their dogs in the park and were still upset the city recently banned this practice.

Robert Jameson Park was once a pineapple plantation famous for its preserves, before being developed as a public park in the early 1900s.

Jameson himself was one of the city’s early pioneers. Born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, in 1832 into a military family, he spent his youth in Gibraltar and Canada before arriving in Durban in 1856. A few years later he started his own company from his home, manufacturing condiments and preserves which became known throughout South Africa and were even exported to Canada and Australia. Hence the pineapple farm.

In 1868, as a councillor, he suggested tree planting in the streets of Durban. As chairman of the sanitary committee for more than 20 years, he worked strenuously for the improvement of conditions in Durban. He was mayor from 1895 to 1897 and also served as Durban’s representative on the Legislative Council.

The Barberton daisy, gerbera jamesonii, is named after him. When news of the rich gold strike at Moodies near Barberton reached Durban in 1884, Jameson went to seek his fortune. He returned to Durban soon afterwards, bringing the plants with him as a contribution to Durban’s Botanical Gardens. John Medley Wood, who had been the curator of the garden since 1882, sent plants to Kew in 1888, and the species was named gerbera jamesonii.

The Independent on Saturday

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