Auldearn Garden in Elgin – open this weekend

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It is open garden time at the Cape. The next two weekends will see 20 Elgin-area gardens in the Overberg open to the public.  Proceeds from the ticket sales go to the Grabouw Animal Welfare Fund.

Jenny Simpson, one of the Constantia Valley Garden Cub’s members, lives in apple-growing Elgin, and she opens Auldearn, her delightful farm garden, every year at this time.

Jenny: “The reason the house and garden are there is simply that this was the only piece of ground on the farm on which apples could not be grown!”

There are wonderful mountain views in all directions: of the Hottentots Holland, the Koggelberg, the Perdeberg and the Groenberg. Situated in the buffer zone of the Koggelberg Biosphere Reserve, the property is visited by many wild animals and birds.

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Jenny has a passion for growing plants of all descriptions; she describes hers as “a plantswoman’s garden.” Many of her plants are grown from seed or cuttings and include  some unusual and rare specimens. Logically, for an apple-growing region, any plants in the apple family – Rosaceae – do well.  Hence the cherry trees, many and varied roses, strawberries, geums, crataegus, raphiolepis, potentilla, cotoneaster, filipendula and prunus. She skilfully mixes these unusual indigenous and exotic plants, focusing on colour combinations.

Jenny’s garden, along with 19 other gardens, is open this weekend (1st and 2nd of November), and next (8th  and 9th of  November) from 10am – 5 pm.

Entry R15. Tea & rosemary biscuits R10.

Download a map here. Auldearn is 8.5 km from the N2 on Highlands Road. 
Tel: 021-849-8762

More info at Elgin Open Gardens.


Plant shopping

So Exquistite DSC_5078Marianne Alexander (Constantia Valley Garden Club) succumbed to some gorgeous impulse buys recently:

“I just couldn’t resist them – ‘So Exquisite’ (above) is most aptly named – one of its parents is the rocket pincushion. As the flowers age they darken and look as if they are about to explode into space (below).”

‘Carnival Red’ (Below) is the most wonderful colour….

“…and the China flower (Adenandra uniflora) has been on my must-have list for ages, so I  am thrilled to have found some plants at the Kirstenbosch nursery.”

 Photos: Marianne Alexander

Gardener Q&A – Colleen

Here is the last of our five gardener interviews, where we ask the owners of each of this year’s open gardens to give us a sense of why they garden, and what their garden means to them.

Colleen loves (LOVES) roses. And hates stinkbugs. And gives her Bergvliet garden the best food of all: love.

It shows.

Why do you garden?

I garden because it feeds my soul. I love being surrounded by nature and find a special tranquility in my garden. I see it as an extension of me!

Where is your garden?

In Bergvliet.

What size is your garden?

The property is just over 1000 square metres.

When did you start to garden?

When I got married and was staying in a rented bottom-storey flat, I planted marigolds.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

I think my Mom, she always enjoyed gardening.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

Probably a bean in cottonwool at school!

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

Yes, when they don’t do well!

What plant has made you happiest?

Definitely roses, my favourite by far. Their beauty, smell and they flower repeatedly. I am addicted to buying them!

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What do you love about your garden right now?

The tumbling colours and vibrancy of new growth.

What do you feed your garden?

Ludwig’s Vigorosa, 3:1:5, organic pellets and lots and lots of love.

How often do you garden?

I potter everyday.

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What is the garden chore you look forward to?

Picking my roses and spinach!

What is your least favourite garden chore?

Spraying and squishing stinkbugs!

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Where would you like to garden, if you could garden anywhere?

I wouldn’t want to garden anywhere else.

What would you like to grow, that you can’t?

Nothing comes to mind, I am able to grow most things.

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Food, flowers, native or ornamental?

Definitely flowers.

Favourite gardening personality?

Una van den Spuy

What plants do you dislike?


Would you like more sun or more shade?

I have enough of both.

pebbles in garden

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be?

I’d love to go to the Chelsea Flower Show and any English gardens.

What would you like people to know about gardening?

How wonderfully inspiring it can be creating beauty around your home and giving pleasure to passers by!

Photos: Marianne Alexander, Saskia Taylor

Plant sale – Brigitte’s rose

If you are passionate about old roses be sure to get to our Plant Sale early as we have only three specimens of this floriferous pink rose. They were propagated by Maureen Viljoen (who chairs the Constantia Valley Garden Club) from a plant in her garden. Maureen ‘named’ the rose informally in honor of  friend and former garden club member Brigitte Berg, who gave her a cutting from her own rose, years ago.

This low-fuss rambler will spread far and wide over years making it perfect for hedges or informal fencing. In Maureen’s garden it tops seven feet. It is a haven for birds and a showstopper in spring.

Above: Brigitte’s rose as she winds down in Maureen’s garden early summer. Peak bloom is in October.

Maureen: “For six weeks she is Queen of the Garden and then relaxes for the rest of the year.  Probably she has another name but Brigitte wasn’t sure about it.  She produces offspring underneath her substantial skirts which grow up from the roots and are then transplanted into pots to wait for someone who needs a gorgeous pink lady in the garden in the spring.   She grows quickly, doesn’t suffer from the usual rose maladies and is really a pleasure to have around.”

Here are some links to more stories about Maureen’s garden:

Gardener Q&A – 66 Square Feet

My Mother’s Garden in South Africa – Gardenista

Photos: Marianne Alexander, Marie Viljoen

Walking iris at the OGC Plant Sale

Let the walking iris – Neomarica gracilis – take a stroll into your garden. This unusual iris is named for the way in which new plantlets develop from the stem where flowers once emerged. As its long stems hang down and touch the ground, they take root.

A bulbous, rhizomatous plant, rather like our indigenous Dietes, it grows in well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade.

Do not deadhead! New plants are formed after the flower is spent

Photo: Marianne Alexander. Text : Lyn McCallum

Betty’s Bay bird update

From Marianne Alexander, a member of the Constantia Valley Garden Club (see her previous rock thrush post):

We had no sooner arrived at Betty’s Bay this weekend when the rock thrushes appeared at the windows. They seemed to know instinctively where to find us, even when we went upstairs!  We thought they only had one youngster, but at dusk – as the sun set and we were enjoying a beer on the upstairs patio – they appeared out of the gloom with two more!

Mum (it appears) keeps tabs on their whereabouts, uttering a deep, throaty chuckle to warn them of danger while Dad does all the hard work – rushing backwards and forwards, dropping the cheese we had on offer into their gaping mouth (see picture above). He is handsome isn’t he, feeding one as another sat chirping on the neighbour’s washing line.

Worried about their cheese intake we offered cook and raw chicken, which was rejected!

Mrs Robin is still about with her single chick but keeps to the undergrowth as  the thrushes are real bullies and chase her and other birds away from any food.


Photo: Marianne Alexander