An update from the Friends of the Arderne Gardens
The drought currently being experienced by Cape Town and its environs is having a dramatic effect on our very special Arderne Gardens – known for its lush greenness, magnificent shady trees, lawns and shrubs – many of which were planted during the early days of the garden’s creation.
Despite our hard work during 2016/7 to install a new and updated irrigation system – in partnership with the City of Cape Town – the heavy water restrictions imposed by the City Council due to the drought, from Level 2 to Level 6b, has meant that we have been unable to use the irrigation to water the garden. The natural spring in the corner of the upper ponds has also dried up with the result that the lower ponds are now completely dry.
We are currently aware that several of our old Copper Beeches are dying and face being cut down completely and others are struggling. Special efforts are being made to save the one old Copper Beech on the Hershel side of the garden by trenching around its base and giving it water and special feed. Copper Beeches are known to have shallow roots and have not been able to cope with three light winter rainfall periods.
We're watching the new trees as well, and watering them with buckets from our tanks.
Hydrangeas and Azaleas
Our wonderful display of hydrangeas, which in the past made a spectacular splash of blue at the top of the Big Lawn, has sadly wilted and many of the plants are dead or dying. Hopefully with some pruning later in the year, and with some winter rains, many of the bushes will recover but many are beyond help. Likewise the clumps of azaleas around the garden are suffering from the heat and lack of water.
We have a vision of being able to take water from our spring and ponds and feed it back into the garden, thus we will recycle the water available to us instead of it disappearing down the drain so to speak. With the aid of special donations, last year we were able to install four water tanks of 10 000 litres each to feed into our irrigation system. We received a further 4 tanks from the City of Cape Town. Our Committee loves nothing better than a challenge and even though the Council has been unable to install a borehole despite promising us one for two years, we have decided to install a well point near the toilets behind the entrance gate as there appears to be water available at a reasonable depth. FOTAG is also providing for a pump and improved electrical supply to run the pump. This well point will feed into our tanks and a booster pump will in turn feed the irrigation system. Although we will be unable to irrigate the whole garden, we will be able to supply specific areas with water and thus help to keep new rare trees and shrubs alive.