The gardens of Fernkloof Nature reserve
Where is Fernkloof?
History of Fernkloof
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PICTORIAL STORY BOARDS
In addition to plant labels and informative story boards about botanical families in their special habitats, the gardens now have two pictorial storyboards, one specifically about its birds (erected by the Hermanus Bird Club) and the other about its flora and fauna and history. The latter was made from monies donated to Belle Barker’s 86th birthday fund and composed by members of the society’s volunteer gardening team.
THE FRAGRANCE GARDEN OF FERNKLOOF WILL
LULL YOU - AND CURE YOU
In the centre of the newly-restored gardens of the Fernkloof
Nature Reserve in Hermanus there is a very special place. Fragrances from a thousand perfumed leaves and flowers
sooth the senses and tranquillity pervades.
This is the Fragrance Garden, designed and completed in August 2003 by indigenous nursery manager Jack Bold and donated by Heather Virtue-Evans in memory of her husband Stuart. Raised stone beds around a central sun dial host pelargoniums, buchus, salvias and plectranthus, the essential oils in each leaf releasing its own wild scent.
Whether it is a whiff of lemon from Pelargonium citronellum,
the spicy scent of the nutmeg geranium, a hybrid Pelargonium fragrans, or the strong perfume of the oak-leaved geranium Pelargonium quercifolium, pelargoniums all have more in common than just a heady aroma. They can be used as poultices, teas and medicines as the Khoikhoi did in early
days, followed by the settlers, who soon appreciated the soothing qualities of the various species.
Plants were sent overseas by enthusiastic collectors in
the late seventeenth century and hybrids soon appeared
on the horticultural scene.
The exquisite purple, white, pink and blue flowered
plectranthus species also have fragrant leaves with
medicinal uses. Use the crushed leaf on veld sores and on
your dog's slow-healing skin ailment. A decoction will
help coughs and colds and make a soothing body wash.
The buchus are perhaps the most famous of the scented
medicinal plants. Their shiny dark green leaves are small
and oval and smell of the mountains. Small starlike flowers
in pink, mauve or white, or pompom style, come out late
winter and bring the bees. There are two true buchus,
Agathosma betulina and A crenulata, which are farmed
for their valuable oils and whose seed is among the most
expensive and sought after in the world. The pink and
white confetti bushes, the coleonemas, also belong to this family.
And don't forget the graceful Buddlea salvifolia which
attracts the butterflies with its lilac honey-scented flowers in
spring. Each tiny flower is tubular with a yellow centre
and throat and is filled with nectar for its flying guests.
From its creation in a parkland wilderness, this little garden
has inspired the team of enthusiastic volunteers,
who help to maintain it, to encompass it with other
special gardens for ericas, proteas, bulbs and restios.
It is linked with these and the neighbouring aloe garden by wheelchair friendly paths, a special flower show fundraising
project. It takes its place
as a beautiful addition to the annual Wildflower Festival
with its visiting minigardens and floral displays.
And if you want to start your own scented garden you
can visit Jack at the nursery where he is constantly
propagating new species and old favourites.
Hermanus Botanical Society
Photographs: Christine Wakfer