Good Hope Nursery – at which we do a succulent walk, almost have tea and find rare plants
This is a gorgeous part of Cape Town. In fact, it hardly feels like Cape Town at all and in a sense it isn’t, if you consider that it’s right on the peninsular and as far from the City Bowl as you can get and still be somewhere close to a suburb. Not that those who live in Scarborough consider their village a suburb.
Good Hope Nursery isn’t just any nursery. Kudos to this crowd who have been around for the past 20 years at least – they lead the way in indigenous plants. Kirstenbosch get their plants from here, as does Table Mountain National Park, which says a lot in my book. And since my better half is a rather serious amateur horticulturist, stop we must. Besides which, our sprog is already unbuckling his seat belt to get at the children’s play area right next to the little car park area.
I’ve just set my derriere on a rather whimsical looking spider web seat by DreamWeavers (make mental note for the umpteenth time: must remember to investigate getting one of these) when a dog comes bounding up and just about jumps in my lap. I’m usually a doggie fan, but this enthusiastic mutt has two visible ticks on his back and, since I don’t value the idea of these blood-sucking creatures at the best of times, I rather sternly send him packing – much to his disgust.
This must be Pollox, brother to Nootnoot the cat and the three chickens who make up the animals on this plot of land that is also home to fynbos walks, an eco lodge hired out as accommodation, and of course the wholesale nursery, which hosts numerous events such as ‘Spring into fynbos’ set for 18 September 2010 (make note to attend).
There are a number of people involved in the nursery too. Gael and Roger Gray are the founders and owners of the nursery that originally started in Hout Bay, but moved up to Scarborough in 1986. Thomas Gray, obviously son to Gael and Roger, called ‘taskmaster’ by his wife Roushanna – who runs the tea garden and offers a range of wheat-free baked goodies – is the garden designer.
I gather, after scanning the nursery’s blog, he is constantly starting new projects, such as the veggie patch and the children’s play area, which I discover is fairly new (great idea taskmaster!). There is also a little one known as Kingoftheplaygrounds, but we don’t meet any of these wonderful people, who are obviously having a quiet weekend at home.
From my perch under the trees I look around. The nursery is undeniably beautiful. There is nothing commercial about its layout. In fact, it is quite gorgeous. Little paths lead in amongst the most beautiful vegetation and trees. There are signs up indicating the various shade plants versus plants that need sun, but over and above that, plants are laid out in indigenous family groups, and my eye catches the restio section as I come around the corner into the main area, following the sign that indicates that there could be a tea area here too.
There is. It is quaint and adorable – a number of wooden chairs and benches laid out in little nooks and crannies created by the nursery. It’s also closed whilst a change of menu and some renovation is considered, but will re-open next weekend. Nevermind, it so happens that I’ve already had my fill of tea, but I definitely could have been persuaded to linger under these trees, set as they are against the mountain against such beautiful scenery that my eyes ache.
Around me are literally hundreds of different indigenous species ranging from local fynbos to sub tropical trees, most of them grown under fairly harsh weather conditions typical of Cape Point – the wind usually whips through here; we were lucky on the day of our visit.
I meander along the succulent footpath, which leads off the tea area and is wonderful for children to follow, not going far, but leading up to a little vantage point from where you can see over the surrounding vegetation and the nature reserve beyond. It is beautiful out here and I find myself wishing I had this in my back yard, rather than the at least five neighbours that border on our verdante veggie garden. Ah, to have this SPACE. But then I’d also be miles from everything, and popping out wouldn’t even enter into my vocabulary, and my need to see friends and swop news would soon get the better of me and I’d bolt from here sooner than you can say ‘boo’.
That decided then (we won’t be moving here) I head back down to the nursery, where my husband in still in conversation with the horticulturist-in-training who works here over weekends. While they fondle the blades of leaves and quietly discuss the plants around them as if worried they might disturb them, my little one is shouting at the top of his lungs from the crook in the tree where he has managed to get up, but is now contemplating the journey down. And not enjoying the prospect.
There is now a hole in his shoe that wasn’t there before and I mutter darkly whilst carting him back down. By now I have in my hand a map of the fynbos walk, which travels all around the grounds, leaving the nursery behind. It’s a 30 minute walk and the nursery offers education guided walks for children as either a class outing, or as I’m hoping when I phone once I get my A into G, children’s parties too. The walk promises ‘breathtaking vistas of the Plateau road valley and the Atlantic’ and includes a fynbos picnic snack and a small fynbos plant to take home.
Good Hope Nursery
Opening hours: Mon – Thurs 9am – 5pm; Fridays 9am – 4pm, Weekends 10am – 4pm
Telephone: +27 (0)21 780-9299
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