The 2017 Kirstenbosch Plant Fair invites visitors on an aromatic journey into South Africa’s unique plant kingdom. The theme of this year’s Fair is “Amazing Aromatics: recognise and celebrate the fragrances from our rich legacy of plants that surround us”.
Throughout history people have delighted in fragrances. The Ancient Greeks had specialist perfumers, the Aztecs loved to carry fresh flower bouquets and our huge modern perfume industry remains based on the natural scents produced by plants. Fragrant cut flowers and herbs have long been strewn indoors to enhance our homes – as we still use potpourri today.
Our ability to smell and savour a beautiful aroma is the most highly-prized of all our senses.
Plants are also concerned about how they smell and they create and employ scents to achieve very particular objectives. They might wish to attract a potential pollinator with a smell like sweet nectar – or like yeast to attract mice. Some deliberately create horrid smells to attract flies! Some plants have fragrant leaves to discourage unwelcome insects and herbivores.
South Africa’s huge diversity of indigenous plants contains unique fragrances that are inadequately recognised and appreciated. The 2017 Kirstenbosch Plant Fair aims to help change this.
The secondary purpose of the Plant Fair is to raise funds for the development of Kirstenbosch. A world-class botanical garden must continuously adapt and improve – and a major objective of the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society is to support this process financially. We have been a proud partner of Kirstenbosch since before its inception! And the Plant Fair is our main fundraiser.
Kirstenbosch comes to the party by bringing the products of its extensive Plant Production Nursery to the fairground – giving gardeners a very rare opportunity to acquire indigenous plants produced within Kirstenbosch itself. Two other Botanical Gardens – the Karoo Garden in Worcester and the Harold Porter Garden at Betty’s Bay – will also bring their specialised products. Accompanying the plants will be the expertise of professional horticulturalists and experienced volunteers to help customers make their choices.
Furthermore, the Kirstenbosch Plant Fair provides a stage upon which indigenous plant wholesalers, usually hidden from the public’s view, most of which have a special focus, can present their best indigenous products for direct sale to the public. As if that were not enough, there will be a number of hobbyists who bring their surplus treasures for sale to discerning buyers. Which reminds us that a number of cycads, the most endangered of all plant species, will also be on sale.
Some of the more enduring scents of the fynbos are captured by distillers who extract the most delightful essences from some of the most unprepossessing shrubs. Look out for these wizards at the Kirstenbosch Plant Fair and for culinary creators who could take your breath away with samples of scented savouries from gardens and roadsides.
As always the Fair will offer a shop window for vendors of garden equipment as well as fynbos inspired arts and crafts There will be compost to purchase, in particular Kirstenbosch’s famous ‘home brew’.
There will be plenty to eat and drink – and places where you can relax, where your children can play under supervision and where you can store your accumulating purchases until you’re ready to load them up and head for home.
But the emphasis this year will be the exquisite smells, the subtle fragrances and the endearing scents that waft over the landscape of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Even for small gardens visitors will be able to find many fragrant bulbs that grow perfectly in pots – such as the evocative Babiana odorata or Daubenya comata with its strong sweet spicy fragrance day and night as well as Hessea cinnamonea which really is cinnamon-scented!
All the details will be contained within a comprehensive Plant Fair Handbook – which is not just a brochure and plan of the Fair but an invaluable 60-page compendium of indigenous plant information including plenty of advice about how to garden effectively especially with so little water available.
The Kirstenbosch Plant Fair is early this year so be sure to diarise it. It’s the weekend of 18-19 March and the gates open at 09h00. Follow us on social media and watch for news of special plants for discerning gardeners. This will be a heaven-scent opportunity and is not to be missed.
Event: Kirstenbosch Plant Fair
Theme: Amazing Aromatics
Date: Saturday 18 March / Sunday 19 March 2017
Opening times: Saturday 09h00 – 16h00; Sunday 09h00 – 14h00
Venue: Corner Kirstenbosch Drive and Rhodes Drive, Newlands, 7700
Entry fee: Adults R20; children free of charge
For further information, please contact Catherine Gribble of the Kirstenbosch branch of the Botanical Society on 021-6715468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.