Tomorrow is Heritage Day, a South African public holiday.

South Africa has lots of public holidays. I have trouble keeping track of them and what they mean. Heritage Day is pretty simple though — it’s a day to celebrate South Africa’s heritage. This can mean basically anything, because South Africa, like the United States, is a very diverse place with lots of different heritages. So basically, Heritage Day is an excuse to take the day off from work and do fun cultural things. Heritage Day falls on a Monday this year, which means we have a whole long weekend of cultural celebrations to choose from.

Today, my friend Horst and I celebrated Heritage Day weekend by going on a tour of private gardens in Upper Houghton, sponsored by a local charity called Gardens of the Golden City.

Nice concept.

Gardens are a big deal in Jozi. As I’ve mentioned before, Jozi is the largest urban forest on earth — there are 6 million trees in this city. Stuff grows easily here. And Houghton, one of Jozi’s wealthiest and most historic neighborhoods, has some of the best gardens in town.

Here are a few photos from the tour.

An interesting Houghton residence.

The clivia is one of South Africa’s most well-loved indigenous flowers. This bunch took a beating during last weekend’s hail storm, but I think they’re still beautiful.

A wall of delicate little daisies.

One of two houses along the tour that was set up as a tea garden. Cool house. The food was good, too.

Paella. Seems like a strange offering for a South African heritage celebration. But whatever, it was delicious.

Does anyone know what this flower is? Neither Horst nor I have ever seen it before.

I don’t know what these are either. They look like sweet peas, smell like lilacs, and grow on vines.

Bee on lavender.

Houghton’s most beautiful indigenous garden. Can you find me in there? (Photo: Horst)

In addition to the gardens, we toured two historic schools in Houghton: St. John’s College and King Edward VII School. Here’s Horst at St. John’s. I toured St. John’s once before on a photowalk, but it was fun to go back and see different stuff.

I actually asked one of the garden club ladies what these flowers are, and she told me. Then I forgot. I would make a terrible botanist.

Blue gums are an invasive species in South Africa. I normally think they’re ugly, but this one is beautiful. It doesn’t seem to have bark — the trunk is completely smooth. I’ve never seen one like that before.

Archways at St. John’s.

I feel very cultured now, and it was nice to get out after a couple of weekends hiding out at home. I’ll be exploring more Joburg heritage tomorrow.

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