My passion for gardens came from my Mum
People often ask me where my love of plants and garden design came from. It seems like the perfect time of year to share a bit of the story, given that mum was my inspiration. She, and a bicycle!
I grew up in South Africa and was the youngest of three boys. At the age of 11, life was wonderful but the family budget was lean. Never did I complain except when it came to my bike. “Mum, I have to have a new bike”, I announced one morning, only to be met with motherly explanation that I’d have to earn the money to pay for it!
A little background on Mum. She was a passionate gardener and that passion led her to start growing African violets to boost the family income. She was also a semi-professional soprano. Music would beam from her valve portable radio in the greenhouse, flooding the garden. She taught me how to stop, listen, absorb.
African violets and propagation
Mum’s African violets business grew into a very successful enterprise. I had no interest in any of this until the carrot was offered. “Dad will make a propagation shed out of old packing crates, you will propagate plants, pot them, nurture them and sell them at the local general store,” she instructed.
Seven months is an eternity at that age but that’s how long it took for the cuttings to grow and to score my first sale of 15 plants. Six months later, I bought the bike of my dreams and continued to dig in the soil. The love of plants progressed to the love of nature in any of its magnificent and varied forms. Mum never lost her interest in African violets. When she died, I took her last remaining violet home to keep her legacy alive.
Mum’s legacy lives on
Today I’m at my happiest in our garden at ‘Ericvale’. The tasting room for our condiments and sauces is nestled among the beautiful topiaries, plants and trees we grow and sell. You can find me planting seedlings in the tunnel house (classical music blaring from my portable speaker) or showing people around our topiary nursery. The garden continues to evolve and it’s a story in its own right – a story that mightn’t have begun without the inspiration from Mum.