Saturday, February 4, 2012

Elgin Open Gardens 2011

I love gardening.  To any true gardener those three words says it all.  I am an amateur - especially when I have been and seen gardens like these below. The Open Gardens in Elgin are an annual event. If you are ever in the Western Cape, South Africa around the last week of October / first week of November - you will feel it in your bones, like I did, why we love to garden. 

I was amazed to see people from all over the country who have ventured to the Cape and stayed for a couple of days and I understood why, because you can easy get lost in one garden and spend a couple of hours.  I saw four gardens on one day - and I regret not being able to fit in more and of course wonder what the ones looked like that I missed out on!  Anyway, there are some stunning places to overnight in like Wildekrans Guesthouse and many more in the beautiful countryside of Elgin .

Although some of the gardens offer free entry, some charge an entry fee of between R5 and R20 and some offer tea and refreshments as well.

Its February now, and this time of the year its easy to get depressed and distressed trying to garden in our extreme heat in the Helderberg area of the Western Cape.  Apart from the heat, its often windy too - so all in all, not the best time for gardening.  So, to cheer me up, I went through my photo's of inspirational gardens I have been to, and I have been saving these photo's for exactly a day like this, when I am not the happiest with my garden and my own attempts at trying to maintain 3000 square metres - and may I add - by myself!  

So, without further ado, come be inspired by my visit to a few Elgin gardens in November 2011 ...

When I stepped into Freshwoods Garden, it was love at first sight!  I have to have one (or 10) of these trees - I lost myself a bit and allowed this sight to envelop me. 

Even if you are not a gardener - how can you not fall in love with the joy that nature has splashed so generously in Elgin? 

The lawn patch beyond provided seating under a huge pin oak where I had a scone and tea and I ... well I just sat and got lost in it all.

All shades of pink in one magnificent tree

The pin oak I mentioned earlier where I had my tea?  I couldn't fit it all in into the limitations of my small camera!  At the base of the tree was a tiny bench with one cushion - and that was where I sat - I have never seen such a huge pinoak - ever.  It was stupendous in all its glory with looooong arms that reached and swished gently on the ground. 

Tree ... a big one

After tea and scones I drifted between the garden rooms - each one with an element of surprise - just for me, I'm sure ... :D, like this bamboo forest with a carpet of ivy at its feet.  (Now I have been doing a LOT of raking of leaves- every single morning in my own garden.  There were no leaves out of place - how on earth DO they do that?)

Gunnera Manicata!  The first time I saw this giant leafed plant was in local garden Icon Una vd Spuy's garden years ago (more about her and her garden another time). The leaves are enormous with a spread of 10 feet x 10 feet on a mature plant.

Pergolas create cozy corners - like this one with rambling roses tumbling over profusely.  Oh, I wish!  I have a pergola at  home covered in Bignonia Sherere (as pictured on this blog post) - but will easily be lured into trying to create one like this.

A bee caught my eye in this 5 petaled simple rose - it was rolling around in that pollen and I could SEE and hear it was having fun. 

A pathway leading me into another room ...

The trunk of a tree that must have fallen over years ago - and just left to its own devices.  I like that ... and the creepers of all kinds covered it with love, and nature has created this perfect frame with a view luring you further.

Roses and roses and more roses  ... this yellow one - I almost drowned in its heavenly smell.  How DO you describe the perfect smell?

An Azalea in glorious raptures of pink and prettiness ...

When I came upon these two girls contorting their bodies into impossible positions for that perfect shot - I just stood there and smiled .... and then joined them in similar impossible positions to get my best shots too.  What are they shooting?  Yes - its that cherry tree again!  See the pink confetti at their feet?

Can you see what I mean?  And they all hang down politely for you showing you their absolute best.  So considerate of them.  A flurry of pink fluffy blooms and the blue sky above.  mmm now I wonder if this is my best shot? ...

... or is it this one ...

... this one? ...

oh I just can't decide - and we all need a bit of inspiration here don't we ... ok one more then we're done!  As you can see, I just could not get enough of this tree ...

The roses were so spectacular - fairy tale beautiful.  This rose and the cherry tree - such flirts they are - stole my heart.

Closer ...

and another one ...

I reluctantly dragged myself away, convinced I wouldn't find another garden quite like this and I'll let you know when I do.  The garden in the property below was not quite on the same scale, but this cottage!  - this darling cottage!  If I could have it tomorrow I would do my absolute best to make the garden match its charm.  The Geranium Maderense in the foreground was past its prime, but it must have looked pretty impressive when it was in full bloom.

... and is that the remains of jasmine over the pergola?  The aroma that must have whafted into those rooms upstairs ...

Oh,how I wish I knew your name! ... I would plant me a dozen ...

I was impressed that some of the gardens who asked an entry fee, was doing it for charity.  Like this lovely garden I went to (oh and I just can't remember the name!)  Need I say anything more about this picture?

They had set up a Tea-garden that was so well organized by a group of volunteer ladies and they had the most delicious treats and eats that would put many a coffeeshop to shame.  

Just look how well organized they were - crisp white table cloths and fresh roses (of course) on the tables and served in style by friendly ladies.  The owners did not ask a cent and all monies made went for the benefit of an organization called SiphilaSonke in Grabouw. 

"Siphila Sonke cares for those too ill to earn a living by the provision of a monthly food parcel and regular visits to beneficiaries in their homes to assist them physically, emotionally and spiritually."

Giving back to the Community ...

It was getting late, and I could fit in one more garden. This one was more formal.  (Owned by the previous owner of Duncan's Roses - well-known particularly for, what else, cultivating and selling magnificent roses.)  This rose walk-way took my breath away.  Imagine the perfect tea party hosted under these roses ...petit fours and cucumber sandwiches come to mind.

She looks SO familiar ...

Must be quite a picture when the dwarf agapanthus and other perennials are in full bloom at the feet of the roses.  The iceberg rose draped pergola just went on and on ...


and on ...


The azaleas had finished blooming ... but I found a late bloomer .. don't you just love the colours and detail?

...I paused at this view ...

... and just one last rose ...

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I have putting it together.  Pretty in Elgin's Open Gardens - beyond pretty.  Spectacular! 

My own garden here all dressed up
A hooty visit in my garden here
'Kom dans deur my tuin' here
'Ruik die lente' here
I gardened for Helderberg Hosice Charity - here

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  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. So wish I had done this trip with you! Maybe next time!

  2. Hmmmmmm, sigh.... I can almost smell the blossoms and hear the birds.
    Lovely, can't wait for spring again.

  3. I recently gardened for Hospice Charity, shortly after Una van der Spuy, South Africa's Doyenne of gardening, passed away 4 days before she turned 100. She was such an inspiration and during the times when I crawled around the garden and thought "what the heck am I doin", I just thought of her and what she had achieved. This is my garden, open for Hospice.


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