Farewell to a gardening giant

2010-06-12 00:00

SHEILA Anderson, one of Maritzburg’s most talented and well-known gardeners, left us a short while ago, but not without leaving many special achievements. The Epworth Chapel garden was designed and gardened by Sheila for 50 years. This was done with love and joy, for Epworth and Sheila were synonymous from the time she started school at six years old at the original Epworth School building in Loop Street.

When the school moved to Golf Road in 1941, Sheila took care of the gardens in their entirety, but with development and expansion the project became too demanding. However, in the school grounds today are many flourishing large trees and shrubs that were once her babies. Sheila was happy to leave these in the care of the competent new gardeners. The Chapel garden is artistic, charming and gentle and it’s success a testimony to her talent. To garden in that area of Scottsville requires exceptional skill and patience; all the land stands on a huge deep bed of shale, deep digging means excavation and deep watering is not possible. By trial and error Sheila won this battle and won it soundly.

Gardening was not the only gold medal for Sheila; watercolour painting, pottery, embroidery, floral art, puppet making, all hand work and design work were other exceptional talents. Tennis and Scottish dancing were enjoyed with team spirit and energy. As a KZN judge of Floral Art she was positive, consistent and most encouraging, giving confidence to many flower arrangers. Sheila’s watercolour art was displayed on many exhibitions and always sold well; her flower painting and especially her pansies and violas were true and full of personality.

Even in her advancing years Sheila supported fund-raising and charity work with her beautiful flower arrangements, both big and small. Her own garden in Scottsville was picture-perfect with her favourite Bougainvillea Natalia embracing all the boundary walls and fences in full swathes of pink. Vines of cherry tomatoes climbed the pillars with pale lemon nasturtiums, all so pretty. Seeding, rooting and slipping all manner of trees and plants labelled her “green fingers”. Sheila had a passion for rocks and on any country trip with her we always came home with a few small stones and rocks that had artistic credentials. These were used with careful and considered placement in her garden or in the Chapel garden. She saw beautiful potential in all nature’s offerings, a true artist and gardener.

Through tragedy and traumatic happenings in her life Sheila showed her exceptional strength and brave and courageous spirit and determination. Her spiritual belief and sound recognition of right and wrong was absolute. Her sincerity, loyalty and love for her many, many friends of all ages and disciplines was constant and undemanding. This was the same for her two dear little dogs, Ollie and Nellie, her treasured companions. Sheila’s support and love for her family and theirs for her kept everyone precious. She shared her children with the world — four live on four different continents — but sons, daughters and grandchildren were all so close to her that all were aware of each other’s daily lives. Bye “old pal Gertie” and thank you for nearly 50 years of shared splendid friendship, encouragement and love. You fought the good fight and did it so well.

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