February heat is far too hot for gardening in the City of Filth

2010-02-20 00:00

FEBRUARY has stayed true to form in the City of Filth by giving us a 10-day heat wave (to date 15th). All the best gardening ideas and plans have now double melted away with the blazing sun. History records it is not possible to get through this month without at least a week of discomfort and despair. Never mind, the pleasure of the autumn garden usually sorts it out.

The City of Filth is the well chosen new name for the Pietermaritzburg of today. It’s not a bit nice, but that’s how it is. My association with this city is in its eighth decade, so I am fortunate to have known much kinder and more endearing names. The Friendly City, the City of Education, best schools and university, The Azalea Festival City, The City of Flowers, the City of Sportsmen, the City of War Camps, all names to make one very proud. Pieterma­ritzburg was the first city in the country to offer Open Gardens to visitors and it was received well. People came from all corners of South Africa and were full of praise. Mark Shute’s vision of a very big spring Garden Show was another first, also bringing thousands of visitors. These happy garden lovers were taken to the Open Gardens by the bus load in the city’s reliable bus service. Regrettably, this well suppor­ted means of transport fell apart many years ago. I am very happy to record that the Spring Garden show is in its 33rd year and still enjoyed by locals and visitors. Congratulations to the band of stalwarts who work so hard to keep it going so splendidly.

The quality of the PMB schools was known far and wide and a degree from the University of Natal (PMB) was reputed to be an open sesame around the globe. Members of the armed forces stationed in the city during the second world war at Oribi Camp, at Haypaddock Camp and at the POW Camp all enjoyed lots of hospitality and friendship in Pietermaritzburg and called it a beautiful city.

Another gardening first for the city was the Demonstration Garden made possible by the superb co-operation from the muni­cipality and the Park and Garden Department. Regrettably, in today’s climate it became difficult to function without problems, but fortunately the Botanic Society have come to its aid with quarterly meetings still enjoyed by many.

The Azalea Festival was held every August to celebrate the blooming of these shrubs, which were prevalent throughout the city and many of the suburbs. An Azalea Queen and Princess were chosen and the CBD streets were closed for an evening of a grand float parade, supported by commerce, sporting bodies, and various clubs and groups. It was a carnival that everyone enjoyed.

I appreciate that Pietermaritzburg was a smaller city way back, but no matter its size, keeping the city clean should still be a first priority.

Sorry, no garden chores and tips this week, but felt I had to say this. Besides, it’s far too hot to enjoy gardening.

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