Cape Town – Just an hour’s drive from the city, in the uplands of the Western Cape, you can view 21 exquisite gardens.
Elgin Open Gardens 2015 will be open on November 7 and 8.
Gardens on show
Over the past 16 years, many homeowners in Elgin – an area famed for its fynbos, apples and wine – as well as the districts of Vyeboom and Bot River have opened their gardens in aid of charity.
This year, Eikenhof returns, with its large English-styled garden dating back to the 1920s and displaying magnificent trees and shrubs, and beds overflowing with roses and companion plants.
New on the route is Brookelands on Valley Road in Elgin, with a natural stream arising from an artesian well. The owner of the garden, Rob Semple, is an indigenous tree enthusiast, and has raised many of the trees from seed collected in the wild.
With old favourites like Auldearn, Stone Kitchen, Beaumont Wines and Oak Valley Flowers, the largest producer of cut flowers in the Western Cape, visitors to the open gardens will experience a wealth of plantings, designs and colour schemes.
“We hope that people will derive real pleasure from walking through the lovely gardens,” said organiser Barbara Knox-Shaw. “We wish them to be encouraged to garden if they have a space, or to leave with fresh ideas if they are already garden enthusiasts.”
Some gardens are free, others charge entry of between R10 and R25. The homeowners select a charity of their choice and part of the proceeds are donated to it.
Full details of the gardens and a map will be available for visitors to collect at local farm stalls on the route and at the gardens. You can also download a copy from the website: www.elginopengardens.co.za.
Visitors will be able to buy plants at some of the gardens. Keurbos, Fairholme and Fresh Woods will have unusual plants on sale.
Some gardens are offering tea and light meals. One of the main Elgin charities, Siphila Sonke, will serve tea and lunch in the Elgin United Church hall along the Viljoenshoop Road and at Eikenhof.
District events include art exhibitions and a birding workshop on how to attract birds to your garden, presented by Dr Anton Odendal at Eikenhof. The wine estates of the Elegantly Elgin Wine Route will also be open.
Colourful plantings in the garden
A trip to Elgin to see the open gardens is sure to spark your own gardening creativity. From sprawling, established country gardens to younger, smaller gardens with plenty of panache, you can take away countless tried-and-tested garden “recipes” for inclusion in your own garden.
The award-winning Fresh Woods garden, just off the N2 in Elgin, is a romantic garden with an impressive collection of heritage and species roses. “Many old roses have uniquely dark blooms, mainly on the bluish side of red,” said owner Peter Knox-Shaw. “We like planting them at the back of borders, and have found that in addition to setting off paler pinks and blues, they make a wonderful contrast with small bright flowers in yellow and orange, provided they are blue enough to produce that magical complementary chime.”
Duncan Henderson of Fairholme on Viljoenshoop Road has used a wealth of plantings in his 12-year-old garden. “There are about 10 different sections of the garden,” said Duncan. “Each area has different plantings and colours have been carefully selected.”
At Fairholme, you’ll find a walkway under pergolas covered with iceberg roses and matched with blues and pinks. As the path continues, the colours change to orange, yellow and red which create a warmer feel.
Renowned gardening author Jenny Simpson’s 21-year-old hilltop garden at Auldearn is an exquisite bouquet of plants, many from colder climes. Jenny loves colour and uses interesting combinations of indigenous and exotic plants to produce a striking effect. “Right now we have splashes of yellows and reds through the garden,” said Jenny. “But the colours evolve continually through the seasons.”
Wanda Molteno of Palmiet River isn’t afraid to experiment with colour. She has included a striking planting of red roses on either side of a blue wisteria in one part of her garden. “Start with one or two flowering shrubs in a colour you really like, then build a colour scheme from that point,” said Wanda.
“A garden is a voyage of discovery. If something doesn’t work, you can always move the plant to a better spot.”
Kay Montgomery, Independent HOME