The allocation of 50 litres of water a day per person will not sustain a garden through the current Cape drought. Desperate to find out how to save my garden, I recently signed up for a water-wise gardening workshop at Babylonstoren.

IMG_4859Expert botanist Ernst van Jaarsveld, walked us through his extensive gardening knowledge, as he pointed out how cycads survived extinction, how acaias and euphorbias defended themselves, the remarkable intelligence of succulents and how fynbos survived fire and drought.

We soaked it all up like the parched Cape soil.

“Plant indigenous, mulch, work with your soil, choose water-wise plants.”

Ernst’s  water-wise gardening tips translated into practical plant choices, and he generously shared cuttings as he explained how to work with the characteristics of each plant.

Besides the well-known vegetable gardens, Babylonstoren has several indigenous gardens showcasing different biomes. We learnt how the plants of the arid Richtersveld, West Coast and Karoo had adapted to extreme drought and heat and how to incorporate these plants and their survival techniques into our gardens.

The new succulent house is an architectural masterpiece and houses thousands of species, many rare and endangered.  Ernst is using the facility for research, propogating species and collecting rare specimens.

IMG_5396We stopped at the Greenhouse restaurant with its glass conservatory, to relax under the trees and enjoy rainbow coloured seasonal salads straight out of the garden for lunch.  Highly recommended: The iced tea, home baked bread and the fresh fruit popsicles.

As a bonus, we were taken through a fascinating medicinal plants garden, filled with indigenous herbs.  It’s a must-visit, crush the leaves as you walk around, just be careful of what you taste because the effects are potent.

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For more information about Babylonstoren’s workshops visit: https://www.babylonstoren.com/experience/workshop

 

 

 

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