He made an interesting observation on what a successful garden required: ‘All you need to succeed is good parking, clean rest rooms, a tea room and a friendly face at the gate ’.
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Ambrose’s message was about ‘user friendliness’, as it is now termed. The Kirstenbosch Development Campaign was focused on providing the Garden with essential infrastructure. But it needed more than this: it needed to change the image and the user profile of the Garden. As any business person knows, the more diverse one’s products are, the more customers one can attract; and the higher the quality of one’s services, the better chance one has of succeeding. This is the philosophy that Kirstenbosch has followed from 1990 to the present day.
The Campaign’s success was due to a new approach, one of ‘strategic opportunism’: strategic in that it was guided by a framework of policies and priorities; opportunistic in that it depended on lobbying, good luck and good timing for its fund raising. The consequent physical development of Kirstenbosch provided a platform for the real transformation programme – a web of strategic partnerships.
Loyal benefactors Mary Mullins, Leslie Hill, Kay Bergh and Julian Ogilvie Thompson ensured the success of the Kirstenbosch Development Campaign.
Generous funding was used to build the Rufford Maurice Laing Centre for Biodiversity Conservation. The Centre has become a vibrant hub of conservation research, planning and policy development in southern Africa.
On 27 May 1913, when General Louis Botha, as Prime Minister, approved the establishment of Kirstenbosch, he had the good foresight to comment, regarding the government grant: it is only the assurance that the sum will probably be augmentedfrom other sources that has induced the Government to agree to the proposal ’.