Thursday, October 21, 2010

Open Gardens Weekend, Cape Town

On October 29th and 30th, five private gardens in Constantia and Bergvliet will be open to ticket-holding members of the public.

My mother's will be one of them, and a very good place to kick off the tour, as you work your way east from there: 9 Sun Valley Avenue (pictured above).

The Constantia Valley Garden Club holds this Open Gardens tour annually to benefit two stellar organizations that rely on donations to function: Abalimi bezekhaya, and Soil for Life. (Here's a previous post I wrote about Abalimi).

Both support food gardens in the impoverished parts of the Cape Flats. The more visitors that attend the Open Gardens, the greater the size of the cheques that can be handed over to nurture gardens that do essential, grassroots work: growing food for those who are hungry, and who have no employment. 100% of the earnings from the weekend are donated.

Rob Small, the director of Abalimi bezekhaya, will set up shop at 9 Sun Valley Avenue and sell CSA-grade vegetables (below) from the farms in townships. Fair warning: the vegetables sell FAST. So be there early.

There will also be a plant sale, at very, very reasonable prices.

Tickets to the Open Gardens cost R50 per person, and include tea at one of the gardens. Tickets can be bought at the door, or ahead of time at this list of venues:

Ferndale Nursery - 021 794 5144 - on Brommersvlei Road
Peter Gilder Jewellers - 021 794 2116 - at Constantia Village
Sherwood Hardware and Gardening - 021 715 1520 - Glen Alpine Shopping Centre, Bergvliet
Love Flowers - 021 702 2020 - Steenberg Village Centre 
Cape Veterinary Shop - 021 715 6345 - Park and Shop, Meadowridge

This is a very popular event that attracted two thousand visitors last year. You will have the opportunity to compare five vastly different types of gardens both as far as style and size are concerned.

I know for a fact that my mother has been planning for this for the last year, spending every available moment in her garden. Hers is a plant collector's garden, where you will see a mix of interesting, unusual, beautiful plants alongside both indigenous and exotic specimens. Edible and ornamental plantings overflow and overlap (where do you think I got it from?). She has a substantial potted garden in sun and shade as well as bonsais, a herb garden, shady garden, and big, beautiful mixed plantings in sun. The whole garden faces Table Mountain whose Fern Buttress dominates the wonderful view.

Open Garden Hours:

Friday, 29th October: 2pm till 5.30pm
Saturday, 30th October: 10am to 5pm.

Here is a list of the gardens, courtesy of horticultural author, photographer and garden club member, Marianne Alexander - (with some editorial tweaking by yours truly):

11 Bruce Road, Constantia (tea will be served here!)

A formal garden, with garden rooms with informal planting

A series of clipped hedges have divided this large well treed garden into a series of interlinking garden rooms home to a formal rose garden, vegetable garden, boules court and pool garden. The patio overlooks a rustic water feature.  Although the structure is formal, the planting is an informal mix of indigenous and exotic plants.

9 Sun Valley Avenue, Constantia

This plant collector's garden changes from year to year as the adventurous owner [my mother!] tries new plants and interesting combinations while creating a haven for birds.

The owner describes the garden as a journey without a destination as it is a constant state of fluid change as she experiments with new plants, interesting colour schemes and new plant combination.  From the patio with its fascinating array of container plants, a sloping lawn leads down to a shade garden and wild area planted for birds.

3 Zomerlust Avenue (There will be a plant sale here)

A tranquil, informal garden with large trees, mixed borders and interesting courtyard garden.  Birds, chameleons, and a pair of owls share the space.

This informal garden is a haven for birds, chameleons and a pair of owls. Often featured in film shoots the owner follows no rules but has an innate love of both exotic and indigenous plants which are skilfully grouped according to their colours. A place of tranquillity and reflection.  Enclosed patio also on show.

34 Vineyard Road, Bergvliet

An informal garden with an interesting mix of indigenous and exotic plants many of which have been grown from slips and placed with thought to their textures and colours.

This informal, 17 year old garden is home to a tree aloe, Aloe barberae and other waterwise plants on the windy verge.  Attention has been given to the texture and colours of the plants while vegetables thrive in a sunny patch of the north-facing border.

1 Ceres Road, Bergvliet

Restful park-like garden with Koi pond and new vegetable garden with a sweeping lawn bordered by a bougainvillea pergola and shady garden beds.

In the meantime, if you have questions, please call Gail at 021-712-5668 or Elaine at 021-713-1845.

And if you are a local blogger or gardener, please help to spread the word and feel free to reblog this post.


  1. I want to go. This is like waving a steak in front of our lab.

    Hope it's a huge success.

    xo jane

  2. Best of luck to all participants and a long, cold glass of your favourite at the end of it.
    I've done several open garden days and know how gruelling they can be.

  3. Wish I could be in SA for the weekend - sounds like my kind of event! Know your mother's garden will be spectacular! Way to go, mom.

  4. Thanks Chicken ! A valuable and great post -hope it brings in the crowds

  5. Oh we all want to go! I know it will be spectacular, especially your mom's garden.

  6. Thanks for this post, Marie. I did not know about it, and although I am not really a gardener, I do enjoy being in gardens. I am just round the corner (well, compared to other commenters!) so I think I will make that a date for next weekend, take some friends along, and support a good cause ...

  7. I went! What a lovely afternoon I had, visiting all these beautiful gardens. Your mum's garden was magnificent - please congratulate her on creating such a pretty, interesting and restful haven. Totally inspiring.


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