A garden like no other

Part of the enchantment of The High Acre Forest Cottage is their beautiful garden. DP & Hannes grow their own food and flowers.

As florists they understand that fresh is always best, and what better way to ensure that a bride’s bouquet is indeed perfect, than to grow your own cut flowers and fillers.

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We were spoiled rotten by getting the opportunity to not only admire their handy work but to spend precious time in the garden with baskets to pick and choose as we want.

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I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning than to collect your stock to make a beautiful wreath.

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Mishka was mesmerised by the colours, textures and shapes of the many different herbs, flowers and fillers. She spent hours getting just the right combination for her wreath.

IMG_8693 It reminded me of our own garden back home and what we do to make it a wonder world for spending hours of fun or retreat in.

My own love for gardening was inspired by my mom who loved fine gardening, particularly English gardening. She pampered every little plant, tried anything, regardless of our less optimal geographical region. Every winter everything would die of black frost, every Spring she would start over and create a paradise. I absolutely loved every nook and corner of her garden, I learnt so much about patience and waiting for the cream of the crop.

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However, my gardening style developed with my own journey, and I will always have lavenders, pansies and geraniums in my garden, but going through one of the worst droughts the Western Cape has ever seen, I discovered that the Aloes I brought with me from Gauteng were much better suited for this part of the world. We lovingly transplanted every bit of the Aloes we could when we first settled in: they are such survivors. This year we are enjoying the beautiful oranges of their flowers all over the garden. We are not the only ones! Daily visits from the sugar birds make our hearts sing as much as theirs.

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The biggest gardening event for us this year was when we planted Mishka’s English Oak tree. She wanted a tree she could climb and one that could hold her tree house one day.

The friendly people at Themba Trees in the Elgin valley took time and effort to make sure she selects the perfect one. We went home with a three meter tall tree and Sam helped us plant it. This is the beginning of big things, well a big thing! Time will be captured in this beautiful majestic tree’s rings, our time and our love will be locked into this tree.

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We will also remember where this tree came from. Caroline from Themba Trees encompass all the values we aspire to. She started this small business from her knowledge and qualifications and mixed it with passion for the environment and social responsibility. The result: gorgeous mature trees! Knowing that it was grown with integrity and a love for people and nature makes this Oak tree so much more special to us.

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Low maintenance gardens are so important to get started, if you think you don’t have it in you to grow something, keep in mind that succulents don’t need much to flourish.

My gardening tips:

  • Start small, get a few containers and ask a friend for some succulent cuttings.
  • If you are more adventurous, get one container close to your kitchen with three of your favourite herbs (this should inspire you to look after it and get it harvest ready)
  • Make an effort to keep your shrubs in a good condition – prune and feed. This is a good backdrop for the rest of your gardening aspirations. Just have something going that is not too much of an effort to look after.
  • If you have a shady garden, go for Aggies (Agapanthus) and Clivias. They can be split and divided to make many more plants. Fill those gaps!
  • Plant a tree, if not for yourself for your children.

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HAPPY GARDENING!

The value of crafting – hooray crochet!

As kids, my sisters and I always thought we were the lamest girls because we spent our holidays learning to do all kinds of crafts. Well, where we grew up malls did not exist and our winters were so long and excruciatingly cold, we didn’t really want to get out anyway.

Today I am incredibly grateful for those housebound holidays because I can spoil a friend or my family with something I made with my own two hands. It just says so much more than a store bought gift, because in this handmade gift lies my time, my feelings and my effort.

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Some crafts did not come that easily, and as it sometimes goes with mom and daughter, patience run out. But I did not give up, I took my crochet pin and a few balls of yarn, walked over to my Nan and did not leave until I got it right. Left handed or not!

Of course when boys entered the picture, the crochet kit was buried and was not resurrected until the other day. Finally I have time and head space for crafts again!

Don’t for a second think its like riding a bike, oh no! I had to learn the few basics again and made Mishka a beautiful thick blanket.

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A month ago when I featured the beautiful socks and ponchos from Little Yarn Shop I rediscovered this burning desire to create more than a simple stitch blanket. I contacted them and they offer beginners classes. Chane fro the Frogging Fox is an amazing teacher! I learnt to crochet fluffy hats and face rounds, so I am totally hooked again!

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There is so much more I want to do! If my mom did not ignite this crafty fire, I would never have thought I had the ability to make something so complicated myself. That is why I am exposing Mishka to crafts too. Even if she doesn’t enjoy every single activity, she will learn something about patience and ability, and perhaps one day be able to crochet a blanket for her own daughter.

It is also a connection point, an activity you can enjoy while spending time with others. This gift of crafting gets passed on from generation to generation, but it is also a way women can get together and share stories while sharing tricks of the trade.

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Mishka will spend some time with Granny Ronnie during our winter break, when it seems to rain forever in this part of the country. She still has plenty of time to learn before boys occupy too much of her thoughts and time.

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My advice to anyone who wants to start any craft, start simple, find the simplest pattern and a whole lot of youtube videos, set aside time, pour a glass of wine and just start!

There’s a teacher in every town, just ask and you will find. If you are in the Hermanus area @thefroggingfox will teach you a few tricks!

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I hope my crochet over-share inspired you to take up that craft you’ve always wanted to master! Not only does it keep you out of trouble, but actually has been proven to be imperative to your mental health:

People who exercised their artistic muscle were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, a condition that can mean memory problems and reduced mental function, than those who didn’t partake in artistic activities. People who did a lot of crafts like woodworking and quilting were 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than people who did not, and computer users were 53% less likely to develop it compared to adults who didn’t use the computer. Social adults were 55% less likely to have memory problems later on than their antisocial peers. BY ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN  – Times APRIL 8, 2015

Food for thought!