We (residents of the spectacular Garden Route) all know that along the N2 are numerous distractions that can lead one off the beaten track and prolong a journey from Plettenburg Bay to Knysna or Knysna to Sedgefield to nearly double the time. These 'distractions' come in the form of National Parks, hiking and biking routes, coffee and curio shops, nurseries, sanctuaries, out-door markets and the like. But how often do any of us pay good attention?
I have been living on the Garden Route (on and off) for the last 25 years and it was only a few weeks ago that I had taken half an hour from my day to visit the Lagoon View Nursery. Located on the Belvidere turn-off just off the N2, the exact address is not mentioned, but it's roughly number 1 Phantom Pass (road) - just after or before the White Bridge.
The Lagoon View Nursery had been established more than 10 years ago as a Cycad Sanctuary. The original owners had been Mike and Renee Pautz (who were incidentally the first couple to make it as Springbok Anglers) and who had come to Knysna to 'retire' but now, several years later, the property belongs and is managed by their daughter Jeanne.
On entering the Nursery, a majestic gazebo welcomes one with four neat tables, covered in white table clothes. I'm impressed and sit down to enjoy the spectacular view of the Lagoon and a cappuccino. But before the cappuccino arrives my attention wanders to the Nursery's plants and the various enclosures containing all sorts of animals.
The property is large and houses 4 species of monkeys, numerous ducks and swans, parrots (lorikeets - to mention only one kind) a donkey named 'Katrin' and an ex-show jumping horse named 'Sugar'. Just as an aside: buckets are available 'for hire' and are filled with carrots and apples for children who would like to feed the animals. (A small fee of R5 is requested for this enjoyment).
But more about the plants. Cycad’s are fascinating miracles of creation and can often live for hundreds of years. What's interesting is that many have become endangered (and are thus protected) and to own one means first having to attain a licence. Many of the more pricey plants are micro-chipped (for their safety). Concerning Environmental Issues these plants are a wondrous alternative to water-consuming floras and with ever-increasing water-shortages Cycad’s are presenting an alternative.
Mike (informally known as 'Dad') is an expert Cycad handler. See his web-page: http://www.cycadsforafrica.com/ for information concerning deliveries, licences and managing. Despite Mike's 'retirement', he is still very much involved in the planting and maintaining of the Cycad’s. On request, Mike (and his wife Renee) will come to your home and assess the characteristics of your garden, determining which plants would best fit in your garden, with regards to light, shade, space soil and water resources etc... In short, they are garden designers with a hefty knowledge of the Cycad species.
Cycad’s are hardy plants and require very low-maintenance and 'juice' from the earths' soil. They make the perfect plant for any holiday home and make for characteristically African landscapes. Tourists needn’t worry either: deliveries and licences are organised by Mike- again, see his website for details.
What's great about the Nursery is that there are numerous, fully-grown examples of plants. On buying your baby Cycad, you can see exactly how it will look as an adult, thus better imagining it in your garden.
The Nursery is open 7 days a week. Monday- Friday 9am-5pm. Saturday 9am-1pm and Sunday 10am-1pm. Email email@example.com or call +27 44 387 1011 for info regarding any of the facilities, plants, etc. etc.- the staff are friendly and approachable.
Since my first visit, I've been back again- have I mentioned the delicious home-made Ox-tail stew on offer?
There's a motto here: 'Anything we don't have, we'll get'.
- Numerous species of Cycad’s (free delivery).
- A traditional selection of Nursery plants and herbs.
- Ceramic statues and pots.
- Webco gardening equipment.
- Fertilizers, pesticides and compost.
- Breakfast and lunch.
- An enclosed children's play area (yes, there's a trampoline!).
- A wooden deck available for hire for private functions.
- And……. More!