Hand Over to Beneficiaries

Ma Kaba and Maureen Viljoen

The final event of Open Gardens Constantia 2014.

A celebration was in order after our wonderful 2014 fundraiser for two really worthy causes: Abalimi Bezekhaya and Soil for Life.

We were thrilled that OGC 2014 raised far more than the previous Open Gardens, despite a deluge on Day 1. The event showed a profit of R115,000.00 (of which over R25,000.00 was generated by the sale of plants grown by members, the majority with origins in their gardens). This was donated in two cheques, split down the middle, to each organization.

The informal  function took place in the garden of Soil for Life, and was attended by members of the Constantia Valley, Constantiaberg and Flourish garden clubs as well as gardeners whose gardens were open to the public. Also in attendance were Ma Kaba, who had travelled from Kayelitsha with her grandson, Mzwandile Kaba (who is following in her footsteps) and Rob Small, both very influential figures at Abalimi, as well as Jo Fuller, from Soil for Life.

Ma Kaba addresses the gathering

Open Gardens Constantia chairlady, Maureen Viljoen said,  “Abalimi Bezekhaya and Soil for Life have been the recipients for many years. We have strong bonds with both these admirable organisations and know that the contributions we hand over will be well used and greatly appreciated by those whose lives will be improved and uplifted by an increase in self-respect and a sense of achievement.”

Jo Fuller, Soil for Life

Thank you to all our members, gardeners, helpers, and sponsors, and especially to each person who bought a ticket.

You made a difference.

See you in 2016!


Carol’s vegetable garden

basil border open gardens constantia

Carol’s garden was a natural draw at Open Gardens Constantia 2014.

Why? Tea was served there! Also a lot of cake, and sandwiches.

But the surprise waiting for everyone at the garden gate was the beautiful herb and vegetable garden, which was very popular with visitors. Above, Thai basil and an Alpine strawberry collection formed a luxurious border at the entrance.

garden seating open gardens constantia

Carol told us, “I enjoy vegetable gardening as it is so worthwhile eating what one has produced, and knowing that it is organic.”

Knowing what you are eating, how it was grown, is one of the great pleasures of the home gardener, regardless of scale.

giant mustard ogc

Giant mustard is flanked by companion marigolds, natural pest controllers. They have long been used by organic gardeners as pest traps. In the background is the indigenous and familiar Tulbaghia, or wild garlic. Both edible and useful, it also has a reputation for driving away harmful pests.

ruby chard ogc

Picture-perfect ruby chard (the stems are delicious cooked in their own right as a side dish).

rustic tuteurThe centre of the vegetable garden has a rustic wooden tuteur as its focal point, drawing the eye and supporting tomatoes.

Now that the guests have left, Carol can get back to eating her vegetables again!

Colleen’s flowers

open gardens constantia colleen

Visitors to Colleen’s corner garden in Bergvliet were entranced by the flowers they found.

open gardens constantia roses

They spilled from baskets…

open gardens constantia visitors

…grew up trellises…

open gardens constantia

…tumbled from urns…

just joey

…made focal points in beds…

red rose

…floated in a fountain,

floating roses

…and provided pretty backdrops for friendly cats.

open gardens constantia 2014 colleen

Here’s a trick question:

What is Colleen’s favourite flower?

We did it!

tea treats

It’s over. What a wonderful two days.

We’ll post many more garden pictures over the next days, weeks and months. There are dozens of gorgeous views and interesting gardening details we have not yet shared, so we hope you keep visiting.

We will keep up with local garden news on this blog and on the Facebook, too.

THANK YOU to everyone who supported Open Gardens Constantia. Your ticket and raffle money went to a very good cause (when everything has been sorted out we will report on the takings). We loved meeting you, and we look forward to seeing you again in 2016.

THANK YOU to all garden club members and their families, friends and staff who organized, volunteered, baked, poured, cleaned, washed, guided, directed traffic, drove golf carts, carried plants, planted, deadheaded, propagated, watered and fertilized, labeled, sketched, scanned, counted, sold plants, fetched, carried, photographed, wrote, and supported.

THANK YOU to the five garden owners – Carol, Colleen, Julie, Nicholas and Rosemarie – who looked after the volunteers in their gardens (we mean people, not weeds), gave them cups of tea and treats to keep them going, and who were generous enough to allow thousands of visitors through their garden gates.

THANK you to the OGC committee, chaired by Maureen Viljoen, who pulled off a very successful 10th Open Gardens Constantia, in the face of wild November weather.

(About the photo above: Nicholas’s wife Zanette a Cordon Bleu-trained cook, produced these wonderful treats in her kitchen, for all the fortunate volunteers and workers at their garden. This blogger can attest to their deliciousness).

Photo: Marie Viljoen

Author visit

marijke honig book open gardens

Beautiful Marijke Honig at Rosemarie’s garden, photographed with her new book, Indigenous Plant Palettes, which is the first prize in our OGC raffle.

You still have till 5pm to enter to win! Proceeds to Abalimi Bezekhaya and Soil for Life.

OUT foxing the foxgloves!

“You will never get foxgloves to flower in just a few months, unless they are this type or that!”  So say many seasoned gardeners.

Well, in just two months the little seedlings we bought have grown and grown and grown.


Some are now flowering just in time for open gardens. We have admittedly spoilt them rotten: they have been grown in pots, so the snails couldn’t get to them; re-potted three times; force-fed with one of our sponsors’ fertilisers (Talborne Organic‘s Seedling Food 6:2:5 and then Vita Fruit and Flower  3:1:5); foliar-fed and soil-drenched with Multi Booster (high potash food to stimulate flower development) and Kelpak.

Come and see these pampered plants for yourselves in Julie’s garden (home of Toe Toe the lettuce-eating tortoise) on Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th. We may even have a few extras for sale at our plant sale!

(Follow the link for Open Gardens Constantia ticket information.)

Photos: Marianne Alexander, Marie Viljoen. Text: Marianne Alexander