Article and photos: Carol Kennedy
I loved the front page inscription of the programme. ‘Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.’ What a lovely way to kick off the start to what was to be a delightful day. The gardens were varied and interesting offering a good mix for all to enjoy. From totally indigenous to a mix of both exotic and indigenous and the colour and textures were exciting. What I enjoyed was the creative use of colourful groundcovers, succulents and plants such as osteospermum, mesembryanthemums, helichrysum, gazanias, aloes, agapanthus, and daisies of all hues, tumbling down steep banks and making a huge impact. Many of the gardens led the eye to the incredible mountains beyond which, although partially covered with clouds, and framed with trees, painted a vision ‘to die for’.
The tender new ‘red’ leaves of Rhus trees in the forest fringe and the bird calls were the cherry on top for me plus the blue sky with white puffy
clouds. A really well planned pond and water feature in a large garden with water lilies in full flower created a restful reflection of moving grass and restios and definitely would be a place to sit or loll with a book and take in the outlook behind of blue mountains, racing clouds and a quiet trickle of water.
I discovered an amazing small nursery of very interesting bits and bobs and, as John always says quite truthfully, I am a sucker for discovering
different plants and can never walk away from the opportunity to purchase a treasure. I would rather spend my money on a plant than a manicure or a hair do, and this is seen when I inspect my crinkled hands!!! I get extremely frustrated when I visit nurseries and am unable to find a new gem. Definitely a repeat visit in the near future to purchase a gift for gardening friends especially with Christmas coming up.
The wonderful hospitality offered by the gardeners meeting and talking to the visitors, showing them around and being ‘on view’ takes courage and energy. I always appreciate the opportunity that the gardeners offer when opening their patch of heaven to the public. One is open to criticism and not everyone is the same in their taste of plants or design, but really the public owes these gardeners a huge thank you for allowing us to be inspired, to learn from something seen and to enjoy what nature offers.
My heart was lost in the lovely old farm garden with amazing trees, shady lawns and charming paths and mixed floral beds with country flowers, roses, an incredible group of Geranium maderensis all in full flower and a newly developed formal rose garden surrounded by a wooden fence to block any cold wind. With the Outeniquas as a beautiful backdrop, I found it very hard to leave it so that we could carry onto the next. Having gardened in a large farm garden I know what joy it can give, but on the other hand I remember the huge amount of time and effort that it requires to maintain such a high standard that this garden produced. Each ‘room’ was unique with the enticement of a path to lead one onto the next.
The fuschias I saw have inspired me to grow more. From those in pots to standardized beauties, pots of amaryllis, a Karoo succulent garden,bromeliads and the use of many succulents to help create a full picture where lack of water is an issue, stunning grouping of trees helped to produce a delightful and memorable visit to the country village of Hoekwil and surrounds and to think it is right on our ‘doorstep’. Many folk do not even know where it is!
Time to get a life and next year, when and if, the gardens are on show, hot foot it there and don’t forget to enjoy a breakfast or tea at the local coffee shop. The best ever cheese cake and I can vouch for it. It is made using a local cheese and John says the lemon merigne was just about as good as mine! [he had to say that otherwise there could be war]. Oakhurst also served delicious eats and to relax and enjoy refreshments on the verandah with the dogs and trees and mountains as a vista, I thought I had definitely enjoyed ‘heaven’ on earth for a day.