Private gardens open to raise money for charity

One of the water features surrounded by a mix of indigenous and exotic plantings.

Four gardens will be on show for the Constantia Open Gardens this Friday and Saturday.

Two food-garden charities will benefit from the event: SOZO Foundation and Soil for Life.

Every two years, Constantia Open Gardens puts private gardens on show to raise money for charity.

SOZO Foundation is a non-profit in Vrygrond that uses gardening and barista training to help those in need.

Soil for Life is a public-benefit garden in Constantia founded in 2002. It teaches people how to grow their own food organically.

Prince Nyadimbo, the garden manager at Soil for Life, said herbs, flowers and plants have much to offer. He started working in the garden 12 years ago.

Soil for Life, off of Brounger Road in Constantia, has a range of flowers, including calendulas, nasturtiums, sunflowers; herbs
like bronze fennel, which is nice with fish or in salads; and vegetables such as Swiss chard.

When you spend a lot of time in the garden like Mr Nyadimbo does, you notice things about plants that most people miss. It’s like that for Mr Nyadimbo with sunflowers.

“Sunflowers always face the direction of the sun – that’s how they grow, when the sun is facing the east, they face the east,” Mr Nyadimbo said. “But what I’ve noticed over the years is that when you plant two of them
next to each other, and there’s no
sun, it’s cloudy, they actually face each other to grow and feed
off each other’s energy. It’s very interesting. In my 23 years doing this, I’ve found that very interesting.”

Soil for Life embraces the
“feeding off of each other’s energy’’ of the sunflowers as a metaphor for teaching. It offers monthly
workshops where people learn how to grow organic plants and vegetables.

They also work in Mitchell’s Plain, Steenberg, Mfuleni, Delft and Khayelitsha, training the
poor how to grow their own food and giving them composts and seeds to start their own seedling nurseries.

“Three of the people who have been trained by us have actually come to work here,” Mr Nyadimbo said.

Tickets for the gardens are R70 pre-ordered and R80 at the gate.

The four gardens that will be on show are:

* Waltham Way, Meadowridge (A small lawn-less garden with indigenous plants. It is watered solely from a basic grey-water system and rain collection tanks. There is also an active bee-hive in the garden).

* Pinehurst Road, off Parish Road, Constantia (A medium-sized leafy, shady, garden which initially survived on collected tank water but now enjoys limited bore-hole watering.There will also be a plant sale at this garden).

* Prospect House, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia (A larger, formal garden with an interesting integration of indigenous and exotic plants. Served at this venue and included in the Open Gardens ticket is barista coffee, tea and home-made eats).

* Dawn Avenue, off Monterey Drive, Constantia (A large, modern, geometrically designed garden with an ingenious children’s play area).

For more information on the Constantia Open Gardens, contact Claire Gibbon at 021 794 0073.