Springtime is synonymous with all things green and growing. It’s the end of the long dry spell and the onset of the wet season which means happy gardens and bounteous blooms.
So, in the spirit of the season, we are asking: how does your garden grow? To get you motivated to yank out the mower, sharpen the shears and slip on a pair of comfy gardening gloves, we have some gorgeous gardens for you to visit in the Natal Midlands.
Do you know how the Midlands got its name? It’s was christened by British settlers for its close resemblance to the English Midlands with its undulating hills and green pastures - only with better weather! So, it hardly comes as a surprise that the landscape of the Natal Midlands offers an eclectic fusion between European and African inspired gardens and planting. English country-style rose gardens, and weeping willows rub shoulders with fiery aloes and thorny acacias.
With such a profusion of plants on show, you really need to come and have a gander at the gardens of the Midlands and take home some inspiration and maybe a plant or two. Here are a few open gardens and shows you might want to check out during your horticultural meander:
Every year, The Gardener magazine hosts the Open Gardens of South Africa. A fabulous event where people across South Africa open their gardens up to the public and, for the price of a ticket of admission, you can stroll around beautiful landscapes loving tended by private individuals.
And one of the best bits of the whole show (aside from the stunning gardens themselves) is that each garden owner gets to choose their own charity with proceeds from ticket sales going to their charity of choice. If you look at the particular garden page on The Gardener site, it will stipulate which charity is being supported.
This year’s theme is “focus of the small garden”, so be prepared for some dainty delights. Of course, larger landscapes will also be on show and a new feature - Majestic Trees of the Midlands - has been added.
Have a look at The Gardener Magazine website to find out more about each garden on show and the dates they will be open - most will be on display through October and November, - so best plan your trip around then. This is a garden show you don’t want to miss out on!
Fresh from their outstanding achievements and a gold award for their sumptuous display at the Witness Garden and Home Show, the Midlands Rose Society (MRS) have come out smelling like, well, roses! And rightfully so. Check out their Facebook page to see pictures of their remarkable efforts.
The MRS, which was formed in 1987, has been making it their business for the past 30 years to cultivate and encourage a love for roses. This has taken the form of conventions, events, open gardens and show displays. If you are a little intrigued by roses - even if you know next to nothing about them - then this is the place to start. Functions vary throughout the year, but you can expect events like seasonal pruning demonstrations, visits to rose farms and Christmas functions. A great way to cultivate a lifelong love of roses.
Also worth a visit is the MRS Heritage Garden which boasts an oval lawn surrounded by fragrant rose varieties - all bred prior to 1945 - arrayed in beds and scrambling over arches. The result is a riot of roses in an elegant enclave that is a pleasure to behold.
Meanwhile, off the beaten track in Howick, the enchanting garden at Benvie is shaking off winter and getting ready for a lush display for the open garden season. Although, the gardens can be visited throughout the year (just ring the owners before), and put on a show worth seeing at any time, the open garden officially kicks off on 21st September and runs to 6th October.
Benvie Gardens is known for its winding paths through towering trees that find their ‘roots’ all over the globe and a plethora of plants, such as clivia and azalea. And that’s one of the great things about this garden - it offers a stunning variety of plants and trees, which are clearly identified, for you to linger over. Bring the family along, and for R50 entrance per adult (kids are free), you can enjoy a picnic, clean ablutions and bounteous birdlife.
There you are, that should get your thumb feeling a bit greenish. Unearth your enthusiasm for your garden again with a little bit of inspiration from Midlands gardens. And it’s worthwhile bearing in mind that many of these societies and venues also maintain nurseries and sell plants or fertilizers. So, when you come for your visit, be sure to line your car boots and leave some space for your leafy passengers.