Below is a short write-up on the architectural style of our house

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Magnificent Gardens of the Union Buildings

The Union Building gardens today

The following article, compiled by Penny Blersch, appeared in the April 2015 issue of The Arcadian. It provides some historical snippets about the gardens of the Union Buildings and the many memorials dotted around the site. Thank you to the Arcadia Residents' and Ratepayers' Association (ARRA) for sharing it. Enjoy...

"The gardens of the Union Buildings were planted and constructed over a period of seven years by the Department of Public Works. Work was completed in 1919. Since the gardens and buildings are situated on Meintjieskop, the site is quite sloped and the garden is therefore divided into stepped terraces. The impressive steps run up the middle of the garden leading up to the main entrance of the Union Buildings. The formal garden lines up with the 285m wings of the Union Buildings. The terraces and retaining walls are built predominantly of mountain stone that was quarried on site.
Union Buildings and Gardens circa 1920
Originally all the plants in the formal garden were indigenous. However, over the years this has changed, for example, roses have been planted and many of the annuals are exotic. Although the formal garden takes centre stage, there are many significant smaller gardens, statues and memorials which have been added over the years.

1. The Flanagan Arboretum was planted in 1920 on the western side of the Union Buildings and houses more than 50 indigenous trees. The plants were bequeathed to the South African Government by Henry Flanagan, a botanist and plant collector.

2. Western Smuts Garden and Memorial was commissioned by the Jan Smuts Memorial Committee and unveiled in 1975.
Smuts Memorial Gardens 

3. 1956 Women’s March Memorial was erected at the top of the Amphitheatre in a vestibule between the east and west wing. It was unveiled on 9 August 2000. It consists of a grinding stone mounted on metal. The steps leading up to the memorial have been inscribed with extracts from the petition that the more than 20 000 women presented to the then Prime Minister JG Strijdom against the carrying of passes.
1956 Women's March Memorial 

4. The Delville Wood War Memorial, standing proudly at the top of the stairs of the terraced garden, pays tribute to the South African troops who died during the First World War. A few terraces further down are plaques with the names of South Africans who died during WW1, WW2 and the Korean War.
Delville Wood Memorial at the Union Buildings

Delville Wood Memorial at Sunset

5. The 9 metre high bronze  Statue of Nelson Mandela is the newest addition to the gardens. It was unveiled on 16 December 2013. A statue of Prime Minister JBM Hertzog stood on this site for many years but was moved to another position in the gardens.
Nelson Mandela Statue at the Union Buildings
Distant view of the Nelson Mandela Statue at the Union Buildings

6. The Police Memorial and amphitheatre was built on the old tennis courts of the Craigielea Estate. It was unveiled by the State president, PW Botha, on 17 October 1984 to honour all policemen and women who have died in the line of duty.
Police Memorial at the Union Buildings 

7. The Southern Lawns have been the location for many public gatherings over the years. Crowds have gathered either in protest or celebration for marches, speeches and inaugurations. The statue of the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, General Louis Botha, takes centre stage on the lawn. It was unveiled in 1946."
View of the Union Buildings from the Southern Lawns
 with statue of Louis Botha in the foreground.
Source: April 2015 issue of The Arcadian, a monthly publication of the Arcadia Residents' and Ratepayers' Association (ARRA)  

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