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by Paul Christopher Daniels
Most Capetonians have fond memories of Kirstenbosch Gardens, recalling many school trips. In later years those trips were less educational, often with three bottles of wine in tow and a picnic feast in preparation for a Summer Sunset Concert.
However, Kirstenbosch has left its mark internationally for other reasons. For the past 36 years they have exhibited and won awards at the Chelsea Flower Show, considered the ‘Olympics of flower shows’. Thousands of visitors attend the show each year, including many UK-based South Africans who want a little reminder of home.
Designer David Davidson and the Kirstenbosch Chelsea Flower Show team stand proudly with their design.
Ahead of the show, we spoke to David Davidson, who has been designing the stand with Ray Hudson for nearly two decades:
How did you first get involved in designing Kirstenbosch’s displays at The Chelsea Flower Show?
As Head of Graphic Services for the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the design of shows and exhibitions was part of my portfolio. Keith Kirsten was a member of the Board at the time, and introduced Ray Hudson – a landscape designer from Johannesburg – as part of the team.
For nearly two decades you and Ray have designed the displays and won awards each year. Does it put a lot of pressure on you to keep the winning streak going?
For the past 19 years we have collaborated on the design. The expectations of the sponsors exert a certain pressure, but our passion for showcasing South Africa and its flora is paramount in creating exhibits that meet this objective. Top awards beget sponsorship but the wealth and diversity of our floral heritage is the primary inspiration.
How did you go about conceptualising your design for this year’s theme of ‘Gateways – a botanical journey’?
With so many biomes and so many visitor attractions in SA, we chose settings with the greatest visual appeal. The concept of gateways as a point of entry invites onlookers ‘beyond the garden wall’ into South Africa’s hinterland.
What is your favourite part of exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show? Is it still exciting to do each year?
The prospect is always daunting, but the exhilaration of being with hundreds of other exhibitors, all doing their very best, and paying homage to the plant kingdoms of the world, never ceases to excite and inspire.
Are you planning next year’s theme already?
Yes! Next year marks 100 years since the establishment of both Kirstenbosch and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We look forward to celebrating a double centenary!
Capetonians are very fond of Kirstenbosch Gardens. What do you think makes Kirstenbosch so special?
Kirstenbosch is one of the top 10 botanical gardens in the world. It enjoys an incomparably beautiful setting against the slopes of Table Mountain, which is now one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and provides a meeting place for people and plants. It was the first botanical garden in the world to display only indigenous plants and our floral wealth and diversity has been shared with the botanical world since its inception.
The Chelsea Flower Show takes place from 22-26 May at Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London, SW3 4SL. Tickets are priced from £16.
Supporting the Kirstenbosch team all the way!
Bishopscourt is one place you can dust your shoes off in but there are locations just on the outskirts of that suburb that are just as honorable and livable as Bishopscourt itself. The Constantia Valley is one such location with homes and vineyards covering it all the way to Kingdom come and making it not only the most beautiful experience of your life but giving you a place to call home during potential problematic times in your life. You can always wind down with a good old visit to Bishopscourt where newly purchasable property awaits.
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The Valley lies very close to the Kirstenbosch Gardens and Wynberg Park adding even more reason to check out the valley and Bishopscourt during your time off, but to top it off there’s so much more that this valley has to offer with the Tokai Forest just south of the valley giving you a view that lasts all year long even in the harshest of weather, that forest makes the valley look even sweeter and more refined then ever before.
Full of vineyards the valley is to help produce that wine residents of Cape Town and Bishopscourt so eagerly await every evening before bed. Naturally produced is how these vineyards make it and the residents just can’t get enough of it as Bishopscourt is full to the brim of some of the best wines you can fathom and while enjoying a nice observation of Table Mountain you can also enjoy a good glass of grade A wine produced at one of Constantia Valley’s finest vineyards.
At first glance, you may believe that any Constantia Property available would be in the middle of nowhere as Bishopscourt is full of life day in, day out. Nevertheless, the truth is, the Constantia Valley is brimming with life with plenty of restaurants and outside venues to choose from when you decide to have that night out on the town. It is true that the landscape in the valley is largely full of vegetation and grape vines used to produce wine so the country persona is not far off but it is just as active as the city of Cape Town is itself.
Money is no longer an issue for you, so you decide you want to move out of your old home and go someplace lovely, quiet, and fun for everyone. Bishopscourt is a suburb that meets all of those factors and then some, having land just in and outside of the Constantia Valley.
If you are looking for a more country-home experience then the Constantia Valley, right where Bishopscourt lies, is where you need to be to live that quiet life you always dreamed of, a simpler life but a life full of fun nonetheless.