Hope Garden needs your help to grow

Left: Ron Meaker looks out across Fish Hoek beach from the pathway of Hope/Noahs Garden, a route popular with people walking their dogs in the neighbourhood.

Sometimes we just need food for the soul. The world can seem to batter us with protests, failing economies, crime and grime – what better than to soothe your troubles by doing some quiet gardening?

And gardening is what is needed at Noah’s Garden, also known as Hope Garden, the garden between Highway and Hillside Road, Fish Hoek, a garden run by a community group.

The garden began about 10 years ago when a developer wanted to build cluster housing on a plot and the road reserve that links Highway and Hillside, not far from the Echo Road intersection on the east.

Harold Noah, Professor Emeritus of Economics and Education at Columbia University who used to live on Highway, and a group of like-minded neighbours motivated for the use of the road reserve for the community as a garden.

It was called Hope Garden, with the municipality granting the group the lease of the road reserve for a community garden which is registered with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).

Donations from the neighbourhood were used for the landscaping – the path, retaining walls for rock gardens and benches. They employed Cyril Koeres who gardens there every Wednesday.

When Professor Noah’s wife Helen became ill, they decided to sell their house on Highway and return permanently to the USA, donating a substantial amount from the sale of their house towards the continuation of the garden, said Hope Garden committee member, Veronica Boniface.

“Before they left, the committee decided to change the name to Noah’s Garden. However, in most people’s minds it is still Hope Garden, and on the Hillside Road side of the garden it is still labelled as such,” she said.

The little blue sign on the seaside edge of Highway indicates the Highway entrance to Noah’s Garden which stretches about 200m, with plants growing vigorously in the slopes and retaining walls on the mountainside of the garden, a path through the middle with endless vistas of False Bay. The path links Highway to Hillside Road and is popular with dog walkers. There are also minor pathways to houses.

Orange and white watsonias are ending their blooming period but the purple of pelargoniums and vygies have come into their own. It’s a testament to the hardiness of waterwise gardening.

“We are trying to generate support for the garden,” said committee member Ron Meaker. Now that most of the original supporters of the garden have moved away, those involved have dwindled. This will especially affect Mr Koeres whose salary is unlikely to be covered beyond the end of the year.

Mr Koeres’ valiant efforts over the past decade, now mostly without help, are not enough to maintain the large area. The Hope Garden committee have breathed a silent thanks to the nasturtiums that proliferate on the western side of the garden and hide a multitude of (gardening) sins.

“It’s such a pity to lose this garden. We’ve put a lot of effort into this over all the time that we’ve been here,” said Mr Meaker. “The retaining walls require maintenance, grass grows all the time – we barely cope with weeds, weeds, weeds!

“It’s a nice spot, a nice view. We would hope to maintain the facility – it does contribute to the neigbourhood,” he said.

He invited people to come with plants – preferably indigenous – and suggestions. Monetary donations would go straight into the garden’s bank account, administered by the honorary treasurer.

“We would be very thankful for more interest and support,” he said.

If you would like to indulge in the joy of gardening – or support the initiative in any way – contact Veronica on 072 743 5603 or vfboniface@gmail.com