Fairview Homestead | Gardening at Fairview Homestead
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In July 2018, three days before my 60th birthday the green-fingered doctor became a patient. As I sat next to his bed in the intensive care unit, watching him fight for every breath, I knew that I had to do something about his garden.

I phoned a landscape designer, whom I knew he trusted, to come to Fairview and prune the roses, prune the trees, do whatever he thought necessary to ensure that the garden would be in shape for whenever Desmond would be discharged. Ten days in intensive care was followed by a six week recuperation period during which time he sat on the back porch, looking at his beloved garden and “gardening” by giving orders!

More than six cubic meters compost got worked into the soil, a new vegetable garden was planned, the raised beds built and the vegetables planted. Gradually he regained his strength and started physically gardening again.  This summer I can honestly say that our garden has never looked as good – and let’s face it, it has been pretty awesome all along.

Copyright ©       Philda Benkenstein    All Rights Reserved

We have just harvested the first beans of the season. I just have to share  our daughter’s memories of harvesting beans with you:
Long before I knew I would make a career of my passion for food, my childhood summers were marked by warm evenings congregated around the kitchen table, top- and tailing beans. In winter, my brothers and I were asked to squeezed one liter of orange juice per day as part of our daily chores and together with the bean harvest, these were the rhythms that marked the seasons of my childhood. As long as I can remember my father has been a keen vegetable gardener. He fought the odds in the harsh Namibian climate by building an elaborate shaded frame over his vegetable garden; and during one short summer spent in Canada, filled our basement with the sweetest sweet corn and buttery new potatoes. My mother has had to become very creative with my father’s harvests, be it spinach, broad beans or rhubarb there is always more than needed! She’s had to come up with a number of ways to preserve and capture the deliciousness for another day or season and this broad bean and garlic spread is just one of those recipes.

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Questions to a man addicted to gardening
Where do you get your love for gardening from? From my parents. My mother always had a beautiful flower garden and my father was very serious about his vegetable garden.

Plant collector or landscape gardener? I am more of a plant collector.

Your favourite flower? Aquilegia

Favourite tree? Indigenous: Cape Chestnut. Exotic trees: Acer family

Your favourite garden in South Africa? Old Nectar in Jonkershoek. And Vergelegen in Somerset West.

Your favourite international garden? Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France.

Favourite shrub? Viburnum family

How would you describe the style of your garden? a Romantic garden with formal sections and mixed borders. A Complete garden in the sense that it has flowers, herbs, orchard and vegetable sections.

What advice do you have for new gardeners? Make your own compost. Keep at least three compost heaps going. Use organic fertilizer like ‘bounce-back’; plant self-seeding flowers. Propagate your own cuttings.

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We are situated opposite Van Kervel School- a double medium school that caters for learners with special educational needs, but also offer normal academic subjects. To quote their school website:

‘These learners benefit more from concrete learning programs where they learn by doing.  In most cases they will eventually find employment in practically orientated professions;  therefore more emphasis is placed on the skills or vocational learning programs in our school where learners can acquire skills such as panel beating, spray painting, motor vehicle repairing, woodworking, welding, building and maintenance, hospitality studies, educare, office administration and hairdressing. ‘

Our beautiful screens and arches that transform our rose garden into the spectacular, bears testimony to Mr. Myburgh and his metal work learners. Because we are situated close to the school, Mr. Myburgh could walk across with his pupils and they could take ownership of the project – from taking the initial measurements to the final product. We are as proud as they are of their craftsmanship.