Pretoria - Succulent enthusiasts flocked to the Pretoria National Botanical Garden at the weekend to enjoy a showcase of the rare and exclusive plants.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute hosted its annual Succulent Festival, with more than 30 specialists managing stalls and selling a wide variety and plant accessories.
Event manager Pierre de Swardt said the festival sought to attract succulent enthusiasts and create awareness of water-wise plants, as well as to identify and teach the public about invasive species.
He said the festival was supported by a massive Facebook group known as Eksklusiewe Vetplante, but it was always open to all succulent lovers, including young enthusiasts, who will store and pass on vital knowledge about succulent preservation.
The Sunday outing had rare and beautiful informal succulent shows, and certificates were awarded to winners and the runners up.
"It is really good and inspiring to see so many people turn out to come and enjoy such a day with us, and to learn and share knowledge. It makes one feel so happy and even happier when children are taking part in such an event.
"When it comes to alien invasive plants you can rest assured that nothing like that is sold or exhibited here because that is not legal. We also inform the public which plants are alien invasive and which ones are not," said De Swardt.
He said they had also encouraged exhibitors to give away Portulacaria afra which is very good for the ecology, especially earth-warming situations like climate change.
"It is one of the trees that were adopted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute as the tree of the year, together with two other trees.
"What makes this tree very important is that it takes carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it. Carbon storage capabilities make it a very important part of the fight against climate change.
"So what we do is to ask every exhibitor to bring those plants and give out as many as possible to the public for free. This will aid the human being's bit to protect the climate," De Swardt added.
Mike and Anne-Marie Smith said they were always happy to visit the Pretoria Botanical National Gardens during the festival because they loved to learn more about succulent plants and how they are water-wise and can survive with very little water.
"We also learned about bird life and their relationship with various plants that exist in their environment. I know I will definitely come back again next year. I implore other people to come here and learn about succulents and their important role in the environment," said Mike.