Our Struisbaai house has always been one where we went for the odd weekend or school holiday. It holds many memories and has been through a number of changes but one thing that has never changed is the garden – or more accurately, the lack thereof. It is a secluded garden with a scruffy lawn and a the main feature a large, protected, milkwood tree which may not be removed or trimmed without the supervision of a conservation officer. Now while it was a holiday house, this did not matter as we were just grateful to have a garden with a braai area that was not visible to the passing parade. But now that we reside here permanently we feel that we should make an effort and get some sort of garden established.
I have this ‘big idea’ to start a vegetable garden. Now I know nothing about gardening. My garden in Cape Town is not exactly a show piece. It is tiny and just passes for neat with many bare patches that should have a few more plants than it currently boasts. I have a garden service in to do the lawn and edges and to sweep up the leaves. The pool is a chore that is left to my daughter and grandsons.
But now that I’m retired I have this urge to grow things, to make something of the expanse of nothing on my beach-side plot. So why not turn it into a self-sufficient sort of holding. Why not grow some vegetables? I suggest this to the man of the house. He looks somewhat horrified. What? Yes – why don’t we grow some veggies and maybe a few herbs and indigenous flowers? He looks at me as if I’ve taken leave of my senses. Retirement has driven me insane. Perhaps he should send me back to school. But instead he humours me and on a brief trip back to Cape Town drops in at Stodels in Kenilworth and purchases 6 containers suitable for growing vegetables in.
Now I’ve mentioned the milkwood tree. It’s huge and dominates our front garden. But the birds love it and we love birds. My darling husband also brings home a glazed, cement birdbath. Yay – this will attract the feathered friends. We place the bath beside the braai which is in front of the tree and also put a feeder with a perching rock on the shelf next to the braai. We can put seed on this for the birds. These features already improve the look of the garden.
On Friday we get stuck into starting the garden. I decide to start small. We employ a labourer to help with the heavy lifting, chopping and cutting. A visit to Tolbos Nursery ends with the acquisition of flowers for the nursery and the hardware shops provides the garden tools, compost and fertiliser.
An afternoon of toiling and tilling results in aching backs, a cut on Earl’s hand where the saw fell when he released it from its place in the garage and a slightly neater looking plot! We’ve plant a rockery and one of the containers is sporting some butter lettuce.
The birds are already excited. The rockery’s hollows hold fresh water and they seem to appreciate this greatly. I counted four robins – one a juvenile – several wagtails, some grey-headed sparrows, one yellow bishop and lots and lots of white-eyes and doves.
Sunbirds visit our garden too but this one was very funny. She thought she’d found a friend and had a jolly good chat to her.