This magnificent garden in the Great Karoo welcomes guests by putting its best foot forward, just like a gracious hostess on an African farm would when she lays her table with the old family silver and her finest table linen.
In a fertile valley fed by streams of water running down the northern slopes of the mighty Swartberg mountain range, a blooming farm garden is a total contradiction to the proverbial harshness of the Great Karoo…
One of the sayings by Afrikaans poet and author C.J. Langenhoven (loosely translated by me) is, “There are folks who can do what they want, but it is those people who will do what they can”. The beautiful garden of Mirtehof Guest Farm Estate in Prince Albert, which was built up from nothing in only two and a half years, is proof of this saying.
Prince Albert has a rich history that even includes a short gold rush and royal influences. Once home to many eccentric and weird characters, the pretty town nowadays attracts artists and creative souls who exchanged the rat race of large cities for a more serene and relaxed existence in the country. Dr. Bets Janse van Rensburg, one of the owners of Mirtehof, has a long history with Prince Albert, and when the property came on the market she and her spouse, Stevan Möller, bought it with the dream of creating a guest house, and later retiring there. After enlarging the main farm house and completing the building of guest cottages, they could start the planning of Bets’s dream garden – a garden in honour and in remembrance of the charming farm gardens she knew as a youngster. Stevan did some research about the history of Mirtehof in the Fransie Pienaar museum in town, and found letters more than a 100-years old that described the then garden of Mirtehof as a lush and productive farm garden filled with roses, flowers and fruit trees. Unfortunately the garden succumbed to neglect and ruin during the ostrich feather boom.
The engine room fired up!
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Turn your garden bits into an upcycled basket just in time for the children to enjoy hunting for Easter eggs.
The Malaise Of FOPB!
Living remotely from others leads to a bigger reliance on remotes and their confusing buttons. It is terrifying if you suffer from FOPB…
Fiery shades of red and orange make for a bold autumn display.
A Haze Of Purple
The evergreen ribbon bush, a compact shrub with dull-green leaves and abundant spikes of two-lipped deep purple flowers with darker purple spots, is a selection derived from Hypoestes aristata and was developed at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical garden. It carries the apt varietal name of ‘Purple Haze’ and is widely cultivated in gardens all over the country.
The Allure Of Lavender!
This herbaceous plant, a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, is so famous that its common name is even used to describe a colour. Most of us will associate the term lavender with a gentle shade of light purple that symbolises elegance, refinement, serenity, purity and luxury – the latter two probably due to the Latin word ‘lavare’, which means to bathe and to wash. One can just imagine how the conquering and decadent Romans bathed in bunches of lavender sprigs and flowers, draped their newly washed togas over the bushes to permeate them with the fresh smell, and stacked dried stems of leaves and flowers in dark corners to repel plague-infested fleas!
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’
If cauliflower was a stock to trade, some would have made millions in the last few years as the humble cauliflower became one of the most versatile cruciferous vegetables in the kitchen. With an increase in the popularity of flexitarian, vegan, gluten-free, keto and plant-based diets, cauliflower is no longer only baked into a cheesy casserole, but spiced and grilled as ‘steaks’ on a braai, mashed, riced, sauced, powdered, blended and made into pasta or a crispy pizza base. There are not many vegetables that can do all that!
Mushroom plant (Rungia klossii) is a bushy perennial with crisp, mushroom-flavoured leaves that are good for adding to salads or for cooking. Steam just before serving so that the leaves don’t lose their fresh green appearance.
A passion for roses
For five generations of gardeners, maybe more, Ludwig Taschner has been the friendly face of rose growing.
Time For Wild Hyacinths!
We told you in January that planting bulbs would be a great trend in 2021, so March is a good time to kick off your annual bulb planting quest with the indigenous wild hyacinths, also called Cape hyacinth, Cape cowslip and, more botanically correct, Lachenalia. Between South Africa and Namibia there are more than 120 natural species (some of which are sold in flower by specialist nurseries), but there are also many desirable hybrids bred by commercial bulb growers that are readily available in bulb form from the end of February.