Visit to nursery an eye-opener

2020-03-03 06:00
The City of Cape Town’s Newlands Nursery opened its doors to the public on Wednesday 26 February.. PHOTO: mikhail manuel

The City of Cape Town’s Newlands Nursery opened its doors to the public on Wednesday 26 February.. PHOTO: mikhail manuel

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Did you know that the fever tree gets its name from early explorers who believed the tree, found in the sub-swampy areas of the Northern province, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, caused fevers?

Well, neither did Mikhail Manuel.

This resident of Newlands was one of many Capetonians who attended the Newlands Nursery’s open day on Wednesday 26 February.

Manuel says this anecdote was one of many interesting facts that he learnt while touring the facility.

“The fever was actually malaria which they caught from mosquitoes that bred in the marshy habitat,” he says.

Something else that stood out to Manuel was how knowledgeable and welcoming Johannes Botes, the manager of the nursery, and the staff were.

“Guiding us through the nursery, they were constantly sharing tidbits of information. They were even willing to break off a twig here and there to let us experience what the plants and trees feel and smell like.”

Mayco member for community services and health councillor Zahid Badroodien says the nursery provides the City of Cape Town with large trees and vegetative material for greening. It is also responsible for ensuring that tree stock and different types of species are available, as determined by a five-year tree plan.

“The nursery has approximately 40 000 plants in stock to the value of R10 million. In addition to growing and greening, the nursery also provides decor for special events such as the Cape Town Jazz Festival, Suidoosterfees, switching on of the festive lights and mayoral events,” Badroodien says.

At the open day, visitors were shown the diversity of trees available for planting, demonstrations were given on how to grow your own Spekboom and staff shared information about the species best suited to Cape Town’s climate.

They were also shown the stock of water-wise species introduced during the drought, such as aloes, other succulents and groundcovers, which are now part of the City’s stock.

Manuel believes events like these are instrumental in educating communities, especially the youth, about the importance of investing in trees.

“Besides all of the environmental and economic benefits of trees, they are also just really, really beautiful. I think we can all agree that walking down a tree-lined avenue makes us feel more at peace.”

Although the event was well supported, he says it is very important that school groups and university student societies be encouraged to attend the next open day planned for June/July.

Originally from George, Manuel says he only came to hear about the nursery at the beginning of the year. He says the nursery, located right on our doorstep on the side of the M3, is an incredible opportunity to help combat climate change that will cost residents nothing.

“I learnt about it after I started researching how to encourage my fellow residents to plant trees. I discovered that so many of us had no idea that we could request trees from the recreation and parks department to be planted on council ground bordering their properties, for free.”

Manuel explains that residents across the Cape Town can log a request with the department, through its Facebook page, to have trees planted in their area.

In cases where it might be impossible to plant trees, for example, where footways are too narrow, the City will consider donating a tree to plant in the front gardens of properties.

The City, however, cannot maintain all the trees and need residents’ support.

“There must be an agreement in place that, once the City has planted the trees, somebody will take responsibility for watering,” Manuel says.

Badroodien says planting trees is a vital part of the efforts by the recreation and parks department for Cape Town to be recognised as an urban forest.

The Spekboom shoots will be planted at area-based events across the city on World Earth Day, Wednesday 22 April.

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