Put a Spring in your Step: A dozen Flower Festivals
It’s here! It’s here! Spring is back and better than ever after the much needed downpour. Right across South Africa, veld, forest and fynbos are getting dressed in their bloomin’ best to brighten up your days. TravelGround has rounded up a dozen festivals (and pretty stays) where flower power is being celebrated August through November.
Are you ready for the ride? You’d better be, because it’s Spring Tide!
Hogsback Spring Festival
Hogsback, Eastern Cape
Wander along the flowery footpaths of nine featured gardens at this year’s Hogsback Spring Festival. With its English climate, Hogsback’s gardens are a colourful burst of azaleas, rhododendrons and dogwoods set among rippling forest streams.
Apart from the country gardens in the village, the Hogsback Garden Club has added a guided tour to three farm gardens this year. Tea is served at the first farm and the tour ends with lunch at the third. Bookings are essential and high-clearance vehicles are advisable for this special tour.
The festival itself will be held on the last weekend of the three-week, open-garden period and will feature food stalls, gin bars, tequila pairings, talks, crafters, a performance by internationally acclaimed Steinway artist Charl du Plessis and, in true South African style, a potjiekos competition.
Where: Hogsback, Eastern Cape.
When: 22 September to 14 October: gardens open for viewing. 12 to 14 October: Spring Festival weekend.
Tickets: No bookings required for the open gardens in town. Tickets are available at the Hogsback Visitors’ Centre. R75 gets you an unguided tour with a guide booklet so that you can visit the gardens yourself – please phone the garden owners ahead. A fully-guided tour costs R100. Bookings are essential for the farm tours.
Contact: Call the Hogsback Visitors’ Centre at 045 962 1245.
The Witness Spring Garden Show
Garden lovers must swing by the Feature Plants Hall which boasts displays by garden clubs, landscapers and municipalities, and the Specialist Plants Hall where more specialised plants like bonsai, clivias, orchids and cycads are on show. Be sure to pop in at the All African Cup for Floral Art to see some amazing floral arrangements and attend a gardening talk or two.
If you don’t have a green thumb, not to worry! There are also woodworking demonstrations and a tool expo, a 4×4 track and braai off, the Spring Dog Show, a live classical quartet and jazz music, a gourmet food hall and gin bar, breathtaking bakes on display at the National Sugar Art Competition, and quilting and crafting displays. The young ones will also be entertained constructively at the kids play area, school garden displays and planting demonstrations by Starke Ayres.
Come and put a spring in your step at this fun-filled festival!
Where: The Royal Showgrounds, northern end of Chief Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
When: 7 to 9 September, from 09:00 to 17:00 every day.
Tickets: Available at the entrance. R70 for adults and children older than 12 years. R50 for children under 12 years and pensioners over 60. Preschoolers accompanied by an adult enter for free. Discounted tickets available online at Webtickets.
Contact: Call 031 003 0940 for more information.
Spring Festival Magoebaskloof / Haenertsburg
Magoebaskloof and Haenertsburg, Limpopo
With its moss-covered garden paths framed by pops of colour, the iconic Cheerio Gardens is where this festival originated. This year, Cheerio boasts a tea garden and a coffee shop with delicious meals and craft beer to enjoy as you peer out over the dam. The Kuhestan Organic Gardens feature a blaze of over 1000 azaleas, yesterday-today-tomorrows and Rose Banksias to name but a few. You can also pop into the shop on the estate and buy exotic preserves and cordials or enjoy delicious treats at the coffee shop. Lastly, Sequoia Garden Retreat, a lush six-hectare estate sporting an Azalea Maze, arboretum, the Liquid Amber Avenue and Sequoia Forest, is offering pre-ordered picnic baskets at R395 per basket for 2 people*, so make sure to book your spot!
Apart from the gardens, a craft market with food stalls, jewellery, ceramics, fashion, plants and original art is being held at Magoebaskloof Hotel from 22 to 30 September, and Haenertsburg village is showing off its very best with an open-air market between 22 and 24 September, featuring live music, a beer garden, food and craft stalls, and wine and artisanal gin tastings.
Where: Magoebaskloof Hotel, Haenertsburg village and the estate gardens at Cheerio, Kuhestan and Sequoia in Limpopo.
When: 22 to 24 September in Haenertsburg. 22 to 30 September at Magoebaskloof Hotel and the open gardens.
Tickets: No booking required for the festival or gardens, but picnic baskets at Sequoia should be booked directly at 072 595 3511.
Contact: For festival enquiries, call 082 448 4449.
Barrydale in Bloom
Barrydale, Western Cape
You’ll find no large estate gardens and manicured lawns along Barrydale’s open-garden route. Instead, this small-town festival is a celebration of a community that has taken pride in its surroundings and welcome the lovely bright Karoo flowers that enliven the village every year. Visitors to the festival get the rare chance to walk through 15 village gardens including some located in the township, Smitsville, which itself is bursting with colour and talent.
Apart from the gardens, visitors to this artsy town can pop by the Tea Room housed in the Recreation Club on Tennant Street and peruse the stalls for fresh flowers, Raymond Classen’s roses, locally produced delicious treats, arts and crafts, or grab a bite at the many lovely eateries in town. Proceeds of the Tea Room go to Barrydale’s local hospice.
Blossom Festival at De Krans Wines
Calitzdorp, Western Cape
De Krans Wines is celebrating the pops of peach and apricot blossoms on their estate with its annual Blossom Festival!
This two-day event has something for everyone. Start your Saturday with a fun run in the vineyard (pre-booking is essential) before visiting the farmers market where you can buy indigenous plants, trees, herbs, fresh bakes and homemade products to the tune of live music.
Photography buffs should take their cameras along for the walk through the orchards since the winner of this year’s Blossom Festival Photography Competition will drive off with their weight’s worth of De Krans wines!
The cellar is open the entire weekend for wine and port tastings and festival goers should be sure to grab a bite at the bistro and deli ─ remember to be early though, as no bookings are accepted during the festival! To finish off the weekend, you can treat yourself to a champagne breakfast and live saxophone music on the Sunday morning; bookings are required for this event.
Where: De Krans Wine Estate, Calitzdorp, Western Cape.
When: 1 to 2 September.
Tickets: No booking required to enter the estate or market, but make sure to book for the fun run and champagne breakfast.
Contact: Bessie Swanepoel at 044 213 3314.
The Waterblommetjie Festival
Paarl, Western Cape
So, roses smell great, but have you ever smelled waterblommetjie stew when you were hungry? Joh!
It’s time to make your way to Paarl again for the annual Waterblommetjie Festival. Activities, entertainment, food and finds await at the four participating estates: Boland Cellar, Domaine Brahms, Rhebokskloof and Windmeul Cellar, and not to mention the waterblommetjie eats on sale! From stew, soup, samoosas and springrolls, to jams, gin and ice cream – it’s all waterblommetjie fun, all day.
Each estate offers its own unique twist on the day, but some highlights include boeresport, Shiraz on tap and entertainment by Tequila Band at Rhebokskloof, tractor rides and entertainment by Bokradio at Domaine Brahms, henna tattoos and music by Newton and Co at Boland Cellar, and a fun run, potjiekos competition and farmers market at Windmeul Cellar.
The whole family will be thoroughly entertained and their tummies filled at each farm, ─ the only thing you need to get through the gates is a can of food per vehicle. This will be donated to The Haven Night Shelter in Paarl.
Where: Boland Cellar, Windmeul Cellar, Rhebokskloof and Domaine Brahms in Paarl, Western Cape.
When: 1 September from 09:00 to 16:00.
Tickets: A can of food per vehicle gets you through the gate.
Contact: For more information and bookings contact each individual participating farm:
Boland Cellar: 0218721766; [email protected]
Domaine Brahms: 021 869 8570; [email protected]
Rhebokskloof: 021 869 8386; [email protected]
Windmeul: 021 869 8100; [email protected]
The Clanwilliam Wildflower Show
Clanwilliam, Western Cape
The veld around Clanwilliam has once again been brought into the Blommekerk (Flower Church) and arranged in striking displays for this year’s Clanwilliam Wildflower Show. This wildflower show gives visitors the unique opportunity to view a vast array of indigenous wildflower species from four coinciding floral districts all in one venue!
After a long drought, the recent rains saw the veld around Clanwilliam reawaken and dormant flowers trickle colour back into the landscape. This led the organising committee to choose ‘rejuvenation’ as their theme for this year. As a show of pride, a massive photo of the Cederberg mountain peaks, Faith, Hope and Charity, has been placed in the Blommekerk and acts as a backdrop to the bright floral displays.
Apart from the beautiful and informative displays, visitors can look forward to the specimen room which details medicinal plants and their uses, a pamphlet referring to 20 plants and their use in food, and, of course, there is the Rooibos Route and the local Rooibos factory to experience.
Where: The Blommekerk, Main Street, Clanwilliam, Western Cape.
When: 24 August to 2 September.
Tickets: R50 per adult and R10 per child at the door of the Blommekerk.
Contact: The Clanwilliam Tourism Office at 027 482 2024.
Hermanus Flower Festival
Hermanus, Western Cape
Fernkloof Nature Reserve near Hermanus welcomes all for an activity-packed weekend celebrating the colourful fynbos flowers. An arrangement of up to 400 identified specimens can be seen in the Fernkloof Hall and funds raised during the festival will serve to maintain and repair some of Fernkloof’s most popular walkways.
This year’s theme is ‘Watching Water’ and the scheduled talks and displays in the Market Hub will centre around this vitally important resource. Other informative and fun activities include foraging demonstrations by Chris Erasmus from Foliage Restaurant, raptor and owl talks from Eagle Encounters on the Sunday and Monday and a 20%-off plant sale at Fernkloof Indigenous Nursery. Young creatives can busy themselves with the exciting upcycling craft corner for kids housed in the amphitheatre gardens.
Bring the whole family for a weekend at the sea and ‘wonder’ through nature this Heritage Day weekend.
Where: Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hermanus, Western Cape.
When: 21 to 24 September, from 09:00 to 17:00.
Tickets: Available at the Fernkloof Nature Reserve entrance: R25 for adults, R10 for Senior Citizens on Friday 21 September, children under 12 enter for free.
Contact: The Hermanus Botanical Society at [email protected]
The Darling Wildflower Show
Darling, Western Cape
Always a hit with locals and visitors alike, the Darling Wildflower Show is once again celebrating more than 1200 species of flower power from its four coinciding floral districts. Besides that there are various activities to entertain all.
Apart from the beautiful landscaped hall, there is a craft and gourmet food market with more than 100 stalls, a mini wine route and beer tent, a tractor and car display, live music, and a fantastic range of workshops. A shuttle is also stopping at various places of interest along Darling’s streets, including the Darling Museum, Evita se Perron and Duckitt Nurseries.
Kids will have the run of the festival with a playpark and kiddie entertainment, including face painting, rides and art classes.
Where: Darling Golf Club, Jakaranda Street, Darling, Western Cape.
When: 14 to 16 September
Tickets: Available at the entrance of the Flower Show. Credit Card machines are available though cash will be faster. R60 for adults, R40 for kids between 2 to 18 years, younger children enter for free, R40 for pensioners on Friday 14 September only.
Contact: Sharon McClure at 084 916 1111
Elgin Open Gardens
Elgin and Bot River, Western Cape
The Elgin Open Gardens is coming of age this year and is celebrating its 18th birthday over two flower-filled weekends.
Visit 15 gardens in the picturesque Elgin and Bot River districts ranging from well-established country gardens to quaint small-town gardens. The gardens and their main features are all stipulated on a handy leaflet and map which you will find at all major Western Cape nurseries or online.
Some of the open gardens will have unusual and interesting plants on sale; others are offering tea and light meals. Make the short trip from Cape Town to this lush region on the other side of the mountain and breathe in the fresh flowery air!
Where: Specific gardens in Elgin and Bot River, Western Cape as stipulated on the map.
When: 27 to 28 October and 3 to 4 November, 10:00 to 17:00.
Tickets: Some gardens are free, others charge between R10 and R30.
Contact: 021 844 0154 or [email protected]
Bot River Spring Weekend
Bot River, Western Cape
The charming Bot River Wine Valley is once again bustling with blooms and buys at the annual Spring Weekend. Hop from flowering farm to farm and pop in at various wineries offering pantry shopping experiences, plants for sale, tastings and unique activities to sweeten the offer.
Some of the festivities at participating farms include yoga in the vineyards at Goedvertrouw, landscaping talks and jazzy sundowners at PaardenKloof, the launch of the latest ROSEbud wine and Little Spring Market at Gabriëlskloof, Friday Steak Night and Saturday Curry Night at Wildekrans, sushi and a treasure hunt for children at Genevieve MCC, and an epic scavenger hunt for adults hosted by the Gallivanting Goose.
With all of these and many more activities, there is no reason why you should stay indoors this Spring weekend!
Where: Various venues in and around Bot River including Goedvertrouw, Gabriëlskloof, PaardenKloof, Wildekrans, Villion Family Wines, Rivendell, The Gallivanting Goose, Genevieve MCC, Luddite, Beaumont, Arcangeli and Rivendell.
When: 1 and 2 September
Tickets: Available online at Quicket. R100 for a single day pass including a wristband and wine glass for free tastings at participating farms. More options available if you’d like to attend some of the events.
Contact: Melissa Nelsen at [email protected]
The Rare Plant Sale
Tokara, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
A botanist’s dream — the Rare Plant Sale at Tokara is back with a wide variety of special plants available for visitors to buy. Rarities on sale will include bulbs, succulents, trees, seeds, perennials, indoor plants, water plants and carnivorous plants. The growers themselves will also be present and willing to share their know how and growing tips to ensure that your special plant has the best chance at thriving.
Tokara itself is a sight to behold, nestled on a scenic bend of the Helshoogte Road outside Stellenbosch. Its extensive private gardens will also be open for viewing and boasts both indigenous and exotic plants and vegetable gardens with woodland walks. Refreshments will be on sale on the day, so don your botanist cap and come a-browsing!
With a dozen festivals dedicated to the season, there is no excuse not to wake up from your winter stupor, go out and smell the roses. So, where will your blooming boots be directed this Spring?
*All prices are subject to change and were correct by the date of publication.
Photos that have not been acknowledged are from TravelGround.
COVER IMAGE: Sequoia Gardens in Magoebaskloof.
HOGSBACK: First garden photo by Jenny Newman from Laragh-on-Hogsback.
THE WITNESS SPRING GARDEN SHOW: All photos provided by The Gardener Magazine.
MAGOEBASKLOOF / HAENERTSBURG: Magoebaskloof collage, 2 small photos provided by Sequoia.
BARRYDALE: All photos provided by Barbara from Barrydale in Bloom.
BLOSSOM FESTIVAL: Photos provided by On the Marque PR and Communications.
WATERBLOMMETJIE FESTIVAL: Main image by Lee Schwagele; Collage photos provided by Peridot Communications.
CLANWILLIAM: Main image by Alicia Erasmus; Collage: (Main image) Alicia Erasmus, (Top image) Krakadouw Cottage, (Bottom image) Elandsberg Eko-Toerisme.
HERMANUS: Collage images provided by Hermanus Flower Festival. Top right image of Schulphoek House.
DARLING: All photos by Pieter Wolhuter.
ELGIN: Photos provided by Elgin Open Gardens.
BOT RIVER: Photos provided by Random Hat Communications.
RARE PLANT SALE: Main photo by Tokara Wine and Olive Estate (Facebook); Other photos provided by the Rare Plant Sale.
FINAL PHOTO: A Hogsback country garden by Jenny Newman from Laragh-on-Hogsback.