In a heartwarming testament to the indomitable spirit of community, the quaint Jamestown housing project in Stellenbosch has opened its doors—or rather, its gardens—to visitors from near and far. As part of the Garden Town Stellenbosch initiative, the humble yet striking gardens of Mountain View beckon to all, a call to witness the triumph of green over grey, of life over concrete.
As you wander through the labyrinth of lush, each turn presents a tableau of colours, textures, and fragrances. The gardens, though compact with dimensions of about 5m x 5m, are a canvas of creativity and sustainability, a reflection of the gardeners’ dedication and love for the earth. Every listed garden is within a leisurely stroll from the next, making this a walking tour that blends exercise, education, and enchantment.
The Jamestown Housing project, an initiative of hope and resilience, saw its inception with a subsidised housing phase aimed at reducing informal settlements and improving living conditions for those on the waiting list. The beneficiaries received more than just a roof over their heads; they received a canvas of soil, waiting to be painted with greens, reds, yellows, and every hue in between. And paint they did—with fences, paving, and high-standard aluminium windows complementing the riot of colours that burst forth from the earth.
The journey of these gardeners has not been without its challenges. The hard, compacted soil could have been a deterrence, but instead, it became a catalyst for innovation. Look around and you’ll find gardens sprouting from old toilets, bathtubs, plastic soda bottles, and PVC gutters, an embodiment of recycling and reclamation. The residents, a tight-knit community, share more than just a postcode. Seeds, plants, and most importantly, knowledge and camaraderie, are exchanged freely, weaving a tapestry of relationships as vibrant and intricate as the gardens themselves.
An elderly lady, a guardian of green, grows spinach and shares the bounty with her neighbors. Many homes showcase water-wise succulents while others flaunt roses and other flowering beauties, painting the landscape with splashes of colour. The decorative elements like painted stones, a whimsical cement mushroom, and metal birds add a playful note, embodying the whimsy and wonder of nature.
Two homes, connected by more than just shared porch, stand as a symbol of familial and communal bonds. A mother and daughter duo, with their shared love for gardening, have turned their porch into a haven of potted plants. The slats enclosing the porch are a metaphor of support, letting in light, while providing shade, much like the community’s shared ethos of nurturing each other while allowing each individual to flourish.
As you delve deeper into this green odyssey, each garden tells a story. A story of resilience, of community, of the sublime beauty that stems from a seed, a bit of soil, and a lot of heart. The featured private gardens on Helderberg, Coetzenberg, Overberg, and Rooiberg streets are not just plots of land. They are a narrative of hope, a testament to the Jamestown community’s unwavering spirit.
As the early summer sun casts a golden glow on the town of Stellenbosch, the gardens of the Jamestown Community stand in quiet yet profound defiance of the hardships faced. This garden tour isn’t just a walk through blossoming plots, but a journey through the hearts and hopes of a community that has chosen to bloom against all odds.
The Garden Town Stellenbosch initiative offers a weekend pass for either the weekends of 27 & 28 October or 3 & 4 November at R200. These passes grant unlimited entries to these sanctuaries of green, a chance to immerse oneself in the verdant dreams of the Jamestown community. Tickets are available through Plankton, or by card or Snapscan at the listed gardens.
Come, take a stroll through the living, breathing tapestry of dreams, cultivate a connection with the earth, and be a part of a tale that grows with each visitor. Your journey through the gardens of Mountain View is not just a feast for your eyes, but nourishment for your soul.