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Review: The Cape Town Flower Show

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Cape Town Flower ShowThe inaugural – and outstandingly successful – Cape Town Flower Show highlighted a remarkable standard of local nurseries, specialist growers and some of the city’s most amazing landscapers. Many gardening enthusiasts present were quick to express their enthusiasm for the progressive and beautiful floral arrangements.

Set amongst the historic acres of the Castle of Good Hope, The Cape Town Flower Show succeeded by merging the absolute pinnacle in the latest garden design excellence with a relaxing day out and more ideas than you could possibly wish for. This family-friendly exhibition was divided into nine main areas which included retail exhibits, floral design and landscaping gardens as well as a dedicated food-and-drink garden. And the high level of accessibility to blooming sections resulted in a fun, relaxed and engaging experience. It was easy to walk into many of the gardens, get up close to the plants, engage with them on a sensory level and become quite immersed in them. So the spaciousness and maze-like layout of the castle grounds also amplified the pace and feel of the show while presenting an opportunity to entertain ideas and concepts that might not ordinarily be considered.

But there was more to it than just floral displays. Various horticultural workshops were also conducted throughout the festival by esteemed and relevant associations and individuals. During their respective sessions, Craig Fourie from Mushroom Guru waxed lyrical over the wonders of fungi, while a passionate Gregg Brill shared some dos and don’ts in the art of cultivating orchids at home. For anyone wanting to view beauty and creativity of a different kind, there was also the opportunity to slip into the castle’s fascinating permanent exhibition of South African Ceramics, ‘Fired’.

With the nurturing of new talent seemingly a modus vivendi, the Epson ‘Flowers in Art’ offered an experimental floral presentation. The Cape Town Flower Show courted Carina Du Randt, a well-renowned curator and florist, to curate an exhibition with 12 botanical artists and their interpretation on three central themes – Indigenous, Wedding and Gifting. These artists responded to their natural environment from a multifaceted approach where colour, form, and texture, from the minutiae to the broad landscape, were observed. Notable installations included Myūzu’s Lana Fredericks and her abstract take on indigenous florals, with the Arum Lily as her centrepiece. By arranging the genteel and gracious green stemmed white beauty against the harshness of a charcoal base, Fredericks alluded to the sturdiness and ever-prospering resilience of the famed Cape flora. The duo of Hannes and Tina Maritz opted for a reconstructed impression with ‘Wedding’, which evoked traces of age-old romanticism. The Maritzes  married their predominantly neutral tonesand faded arrangements with an impeccable placement of vintage wedding decorations  Emerging artist Anli Wahl’s ‘Gifting’ proposed a whimsical myriad of suspended colourful bouquets while boasting an outstanding use of space. Coupled with beautifully shaped vases against a rustic setting, Wahl’s creativity elevated the basic concept of flower gifting to another dimension.

The forecourt of the castle showed a selection of landscape designs with a lineup of the Cape Town’s most established professionals. Megan Mckenzie’s accessible ‘Living Room’ idealised a smaller, more achievable gardening concept. Her quaint, yet cosy space included a vegetable garden, a paved path, and various indigenous shrubs, without looking too cluttered. Cara Smith from Cape Contours presented an uber-chic and minimalist display entitled ‘Contemporary by Nature’. Smith’s meticulous embrace of sustainable materials and planting styles was not only aesthetically pleasing, but also worked equally well as a functional modern garden. ‘Between the Folds’ by Leon Kluge detailed an imposing and unconventional origami-inspired wooden structure surrounded by grassland shrubs. It was hugely ambitious gamble in its conceptual execution and as a consequence, seriously gutsy.

It seems Cape Town’s development sector is working increasingly hard to present exciting initiatives for local urban dwellers. Just as Tuning the Vine brings remote vineyards to our doorsteps, and First Thursdays celebrates our burgeoning art movements, now The Cape Town Flower Show opens our eyes to the artistry in the manmade landscapes around us. So if you enjoy gardening, flowers, or simply creativity and beauty, then I strongly suggest that you put the Cape Town Flower Show on your calendar for 2017.

Benn Van Der Westhuizen
The Cape Town Flower Show ran from 27 September to 30 October 2016 at the Castle of Good Hope.

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