Open Garden Season

It’s Open Garden Season in the Cape. Yesterday OH and I visted some of the Franchoek Open Gardens. On the whole it was a lovely day out but the Lions Club did drop the ball somewhat when it came to organising the event. When we purchased our tickets we were not offered a brochure or map showing where the gardens were. On enquiry we were told the brochures had run out and we should go to the Tourism Info Centre and get them there. Well, of course they had run out there too so the lady there kindly tried to mark the gardens on a town map but with no actual addresses. However she got it very wrong and after walking for some time in over 30 degrees we bumped into an estate agent who kindly gave us a spare brochure and we were on our way. Incidentally it would appear that every second property in Franchoek is for sale, can’t help wondering why when it must be an idyllic place to live.

Here are some of the gardens that we visited
Tight and neat formality



One of many lovely Irises

013Fabulously lush borders

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008Col, do you know the names of the above plants? I love this ground cover with leaves that look like variegated mint and tiny pink flowers. One above  – we saw this shrub with grey foliage and crimson blooms in many different colours and I would love to know what it’s called.

This pool area won me over for  a small manageable garden in a lovely setting.

025And then there was my favourite garden, on a much grander scale and in the English country garden style. Perfectly manicured lawns and beautifully co-ordinated borders in cool white, pink, blue and lilac – absolutely breathtaking in it’s perfection.

097 088 048 075 043A lovely statue perched at a water feature


These stunning ornate gates lead to another section of the garden where your eye is drawn down the tunnel of arches planted with jasmine to a stone bench at the end.


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Railway sleepers interplaned with pansies, lobelia, poppies and ground covers provide a walkway to the seating area at the end.
Here is the view from the seating area looking back through the tunnel of jasmine.

After visiting four gardens we were dehydrated and in desperate need of some sustenance so we parked off in the shade at a cafe on the main street and enjoyed a delicious light lunch at a surprisingly reasonable price.  After recovering and a bit of retail therapy in a gift shop next door we got back into the car to drive to one of the gardens on the outskirts of town.

This grand house has the most amazing view from the pool area.
123 127Some more examples of symmetry
105 040Lastly the glorious Franchoek mountains

In all we saw five of the ten gardens that were open to the public, leaving the other five for next year with maybe a return visit to my absolute favourite English country garden.  We are truly blessed to have a gem like Franchoek on our doorstep. It’s Open Gardens in Elgin over the next two weekends – I am already working on OH 😉


Gifts and Gratitude

I was blown away last week when our house guests arrived and I was presented with a little box containing earrings that I had pinned on Pinterest, as one does, not expecting or being aware of anyone else to viewing my Pinterest boards.


My friend had seen the earrings on my Pinterest board and tracked down the maker in Seattle and had them sent over to the Netherlands to bring with for me. I don’t think I have ever received such a thoughtful gift where someone has gone to so much trouble to get something that they have seen that I liked. I was so grateful that I was moved to tears and I will treasure these earrings forever because of all the thought and planning that went into giving them to me.

Maybe that is why I felt so badly for footsy whose specially painted portrait of a beloved dog has not even been acknowledged by the recipients.

I find it difficult to buy gifts for other people, even those closest to me (who are perhaps the most difficult of all). Some gifts are just tokens because people feel obliged to give something and some are well thought out but still not really appreciated.

But some gifts, like my lovely earrings and footsy’s painting, are very special and personal and I just cannot get my head around gifts like these going unacknowledged.

Now as we move into the Christmas season I am inspired to find special gifts for the special people in my life so that they will know how loved and appreciated they are.

Optie went AWOL

Sometimes in life, you find a special friend

No, I have not disappeared off the face of the earth, nor have I been taking a deliberate break from blogging, nor have I been lurking without posting or commenting but I have been AWOL for far too long.

Four weeks ago we went to our holiday home for a two week break. I tried to keep up with the blogs there but as I am dependent on my mobile network for the internet  I had to restrict myself to essential emails that were mostly work related while there. 

Back home two weeks later we had a hectic week catching up and preparing for old and very special friends to arrive from overseas. Earlier today after another hectic but very enjoyable and special week I said a tearful goodbye to them and their gorgeous 16 year daughter who we last saw when she was just 6 years old and we visited them.

Friendships like ours don’t come around very often in a lifetime and from the moment they arrived we talked non-stop. Over the years we have shared each other’s happy and celebratory times as well as the more difficult and painful periods that life throws at one. Maybe it’s because of what we have shared that it is so easy to pick up where we left off when we see each other again.

I arranged a larger reunion of friends who all attended the same church at a local restaurant last evening as another good friend is also in town, some had not seen each other for 16 years, some see each other fairly regularly but everyone had a great time. The poor waitresses must have been tearing their hair out because it was like a giant game of musical chairs as people moved about to catch up with each other.

OH and I are tired but so grateful that we have had to opportunity to spend quality time with very dear friends again. Today is our 38th wedding anniversary and we are going to treat ourselves with an early supper at our favourite sushi restaurant and then crash.