Indigenous honey for the honey makers

Are you looking for a showy, easily grown indigenous small shrub that is tough and can take full sun and only needs moderate watering? Then southern African native Euryops virgineus or the honey Euryops is the plant for you.

Called the honey Euryops because it attracts our busy little honey bees which pollinate the many sweetly-scented bright yellow flowers that open on the plant in late winter and spring, it is an easy-to-grow, tough shrub that brightens up that dry sunny space in your garden in no time at all.

Prune back quite vigorously after flowering to keep the plant tidy and you will have the pleasure of this sturdy plant for several years.

There will be a limited number of these plants at the Open Gardens Constantia plant sale on the 14th and 15 of November, so if you want one, be sure to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

(Follow this link for ticket information and open garden times)

Photo: Marianne Alexander. Text Lyn McCallum


Gardener Q & A – Nicholas

ogc roses

Nicholas Walker’s Meadowridge garden is one of five that will be open to the public on November 14th and 15th. Ticket proceeds are donated to two local not-for-profits: Abalimi bezekhaya and Soil for Life.

Over the next few weeks we will introduce the owners of the open gardens on the blog, via this Q & A session, to allow visitors a better appreciation of what makes them and their gardens grow.

Where is your garden?


What size is your garden?

+/- 600sqm

When did you start to garden?

When I got married 33 years ago.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

My parents were keen gardeners and had a very beautiful garden.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

The first plant I remember planting was a cork oak (Quercus suber) which was given to us as an engagement present.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

I cannot remember being disappointed by any plant but disappointed with myself when a plant I have planted dies but luckily I have a high success rate these days.

What plant has made you happiest?

I get a lot of joy out of seeing new growth on all my plants as my garden matures.

What do you love about your garden right now?

Seeing it come to life after winter and the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of my work in it.

ogc compost

What do you feed your garden?

I am a great believer in lots of compost [above!] and folio feeding every two weeks with Kelpak and Nitrosol, organic pellets and a little chemical fertilizer. I only use 3:1:5. If one does not feed one’s garden regularly one cannot expect to have a flourishing garden.

How often do you garden?

I don’t have any assistance in my garden so I have to do whatever I feel needs to be done. So the time spent depends on the time of the year. Recently I have been spent more than 20 hours a week in the garden.

What is your least favourite garden chore?

Even the chores I least like doing are not so bad if I don’t do hours of it at any one time. I just enjoy been in my garden.

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

I have only lived in Cape Town and only know about gardening in Cape Town and am not planning to move .

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

A forest. I can’t because I don’t have the space.

water feature shade garden

Would you like more sun or more shade?

I have slowly developed a good balance of sun and shade in my garden.

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

Stellenberg in Kenilworth and Water Oak Farm, in Constantia.

Why do you garden?

I started gardening because I like to live in a beautiful environment, so when I got married I had to start gardening, which become a passion, and now my business (Let’s Garden).

Photo credits: Nicholas Walker and Family

Need space? Go up!

vertical garden

Not only is Nicholas preparing his in-ground garden for November 14 and 15, but he has made sure that every available space in his garden is utilized:  a vertical garden will be displayed in a small alleyway at the side of his garage  – previously an underused space accommodating garden paraphernalia.

Marcelle Warner, the driving force behind Vertical Veg will be on hand to show Open Garden visitors what is available for the cultivation of fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers to home owners and flat dwellers with limited space.

If you can’t go horizontal, go vertical.

This Meadowridge garden will also host Rob Small and Harvest of Hope from Abalimi Bezekhaya, and will be there with a table loaded with picked-that-morning vegetables from the Abalimi-supported microfarms on the Cape Flats.

Story: Maureen ViljoenPhoto credit: verticalveg

OGC – then and now

abalimi with Rob Small 1994

Handing over the first cheque to Abalimi Bezekhaya in 1994

(you know, when photos had to be printed?)

The first Open Gardens Constantia was held twenty years ago.

1994 was an auspicious year for South Africa: Nelson Mandela was voted into office after our first free elections. Hope was in the air. Great events helped inspire small, good ones.

Our beginnings were modest, and experimental. Ticket prices at the gate were R8, and we raised the grand total of R4000 to donate to the then-fledgling grassroots organization Abalimi Bezekhaya.

By 2000 ticket prices had risen to R25 and we sold an appropriate 2000 of them. Word had begun to spread.

In 2004 OGC introduced the now regular – and popular – Plant Sale. Total funds raised nudged R50 000.00.

In 2012 that figure was doubled.

2014 will be the 20th year in which a handful of private gardens is opened to the public, in order to raise funds for local food garden projects. The gardens on view are chosen up to a year in advance by members of the three garden clubs who collaborate on this biennial horticultural event, and then the real work begins (plants need time to grow, you know). 

Abalimi Bezekhaya remains one of OGC’s beneficiaries. The other is Soil for Life. By sharing our passion for gardening we are proud to help support two organizations whose work is literally at the root of the of one of South Africa (and the planets)’s  great challenges: food production for everyone. Both Abalimi and Soil for Life are local organizations who are instrumental in educating, supporting and empowering communities facing serious social and financial challenges.

How much can we give them this year?

Please help us to help them by visiting our gardens on November 14th and 15th this year. There will be plants to buy, tea and cake to enjoy, and local produce to admire (and purchase), grown by Abalimi’s microfarmers.

Please check back closer to the time for garden locations and visit us on our Facebook page too.