Local parks, gardens and public spaces : a short history

Have you ever wondered how it is that we are so fortunate in this area to have so many of our public spaces lovingly looked after, and who the silent gardeners are? In this short article we would like to pay tribute to the very many community-minded residents who have adopted different areas.

Garden beside Kalk Bay Trading Post (Formerly the old Post Office)

Many years ago this was an unsightly open space and the hibiscus tree on the right hand side was referred to as ‘The Hibiscus Hotel’ by local homeless people! It must be at least 15 years ago now that Eddie and the late Max Saunders from China Town took this neglected area under their wings, and transformed it into the beautiful little garden it is now. Eddie is often to be seen tending the garden. This was, to the best of our knowledge, the first public space to be adopted.

Lever Street Park, Kalk Bay

This little oasis in the heart of our village was an absolute mess 12 years ago, with knee-high grass, broken bottles, and broken play equipment. Annie Clarke, a local resident, contacted Judy Herbert who in turn approached the City Council’s Parks and Recreation Department. An informal partnership of sorts was arranged. The Parks Department undertook to mend the equipment, residents agreed to keep the park clear of litter and very gradually over many years the park has evolved to the state it is now. Once a year the annual Concert in the Park is held which raises sufficient funds to carry on with the basics of mowing the lawn, and employing Selwyn Williams to clean the bins, pick up litter etc. and to make various improvements. There have been many people who have contributed their time and effort over the years: Jeff and Eve van Zyl, Zaida Naroth, Jody Paterson, Jean Ralph, Karena du Plessis, Adam Birch and many others whose names are unknown.

St James Common (abutting Danger Beach)

This too was a severely neglected spot until Jane Michaelis took it in hand and created the garden as a tribute to, and in memory of her mother. Jane has been the driving force behind this project and spends many hours in the garden. Delene Burman makes a financial contribution and David Price of Pentrich Road ensures that the lawn is kept in bowling green condition. Recently, the large, rather unsightly, rat-infested rockery has been removed, beds have been newly dug and are in the process of being planted. Thanks to all who are so involved in taming and beautifying this space in the heart of St James.

Entrance to the Harbour

Mike Townsend from Harbour House took over this very neglected area, and transformed it to make an appealing entrance to the Harbour. The palm trees in the parking area were also planted by Mike. He has also created a small garden around the Haven Night Shelter to try and make the area more attractive.

Area above old pathway leading to Hillrise Road

A few years back this ‘no man’s land’ was transformed by Paul Schipper and Angus McGee. It is now a beautiful garden made up of three levels, with retaining stone terraces and exquisite indigenous shrubs. It is worth a visit to see just what can be done to improve matters both from an aesthetic and a security point of view.

Old Graveyard at the end of Quarterdeck Road

Not many residents know that this used to be a burial ground in the old days. In some places one can still see the odd cross (with sea shell decorations). This area too has been a very neglected spot. When Paul Schipper and Angus McGee finished the garden adjoining Hillrise Road, they turned their attention to this area. The Parks Department was roped in and several alien shrubs and trees in the area have been removed. The Historical Association has been involved to advise where the proposed path should go, so that the graves remain undisturbed. This space is in the process of being transformed by Angus, Paul and his gardener, Jeff Kanono, who works there on a regular basis. A few months back a braai was held in the vicinity by local residents to remove litter, and to celebrate the progress that has been made.

Railways Garden (abutting Cape to Cuba)

This too is one of those spaces which became totally neglected, and was used as a ‘drinking hole’. Added to that, it was used for parking and was being steadily eroded. Laura Yeatman took the space under her wing. She has worked with patience and dedication, and the results are amazing. The Majestic Village body corporate agreed to mow the lawn on a regular basis. Laura has spent a good deal of her own money on this project. However, as a measure of support, the Ratepayers Association donated R2000 and Tony White donated R5000 towards the rehabilitation of this space. This is a wonderful way in which things have all come together.

Dalebrook gardens

This totally neglected space has also been transformed thanks to the community coming together. Delene Burman approached Althia Fraser, a local resident and landscape gardener who has been responsible for the gardens at Clovelly Country Club. (If anyone needs any garden tidy up or advice do contact Althia!) This area is now a joy to behold. The lawn is cut by Wallis Garden Services and paid for by Delene. The park is watered and looked after by Patience the car guard and he is paid with money from the park funds. Althia does not charge for her services but labour costs are paid for by Delene.

Ponder steps garden

These steps lead from Gatesville Road up to Duignam Road, and on either side are the lovely gardens that Kay McCormick, Judy Cooke, Pari Callias, James Dison and Jakob Koopman have developed over the years, and continue to maintain. A partnership between the City Council Parks and Recreation Department and the residents has led to the provision by the Council of a hose and sprinkler for free use of the Council’s water, as well as advice on appropriate planting, which has helped tremendously in the establishment of the garden. Neighbour Pam Regan also gave generously of her indigenous plants to start the garden. Recently, Revel Donald has been responsible for building a retaining wall to prevent the soil from being washed down the steps.

Clairvaux Road garden

Over the years, Jane Olive, who lives nearby, has planted and maintained this large garden; and continues to employ gardeners at her expense to keep it looking tidy. This is a very visible space for visitors to Kalk Bay, especially those coming in from Boyes Drive, and we are hoping for more involvement from the City Council so that it continues to be one of the beautiful spaces in Kalk Bay.

Garden next to the nursery in Main Road

Andreas Betzold of ANPA Jewellers has adopted this space and created a delightful, colourful garden which adds to the beauty of the area. Andreas also has his eye on the parking lot opposite the church in Main Road, which he tries to keep tidy, but which is clearly in need of attention. Watch this space!

Judy Herbert supervises many of these projects with patience and dedication. Eugene Rayners from the Council is always willing to give support as well.

So, to all these energetic and hard-working members of our community, who never expect anything in return for their contributions, except to add to the natural beauty of St James and Kalk Bay, thank you!


4 Responses to “Local parks, gardens and public spaces : a short history”

  1. Cheri Says:

    As a local resident, I’d like to salute the “heroes and heroines” in your story above and thank them for making our village so beautiful! I regularly walk along Main Road from St James to Kalk Bay and the gardens are a wonder and a real treat. THANK YOU.

  2. Byron Says:

    Well done to all involved! Can anyone give or take credit for the improvements to the area facing the Kalk Bay reef surf spot? A new fence, plants etc. Looks wonderful, thanks. Surfers would be advised to use the subway rather than climb over and damage the fence, trample the plants and so on, and please pick up litter around the area.

  3. kbsjrra Says:

    Hi Byron

    The improvements at the Kalk Bay reef parking spot is the work of Andreas from ANPA (under the heading ‘Garden next to the nursery in Main Road’).

  4. Byron Says:

    Thanks for the response, great work!

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