A mag­nif­i­cent farm gar­den

Ria Mool­man is build­ing on the solid foun­da­tion laid by her mother-in-law in this stun­ning gar­den nes­tled among the moun­tains and dry riverbeds.

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This is where Ria Mool­man is con­tin­u­ing the good work her mother-in-law An­netjie Mool­man be­gan many years ago.

An­netjie es­tab­lished the gar­den and tended to it for 36 years be­fore mov­ing to town in 2009. Henry and Ria then moved to Bel­mont and since then the gar­den has been Ria’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I’m very fond of my mother-in-law. She taught me ev­ery­thing I needed to know about liv­ing here, far away from ev­ery­thing and al­most in the mid­dle of nowhere. Her ad­vice: find some­thing that’ll keep you busy. That’s ex­actly what my gar­den has done – it keeps me on the go!” says Ria.

Al­though the gar­den was well es­tab­lished when she took over, Ria has put her own stamp on it. She re­tained the ex­ist­ing lay­out as far as pos­si­ble, but the façade of the house and parts of the gar­den were very over­grown. Ria chopped the plants away to allow more light into the house and gar­den be­cause she wanted to be able to sit on her front stoep and en­joy the view of her gar­den and the moun­tains and cliffs be­yond.

She also en­larged the lawn, laid more path­ways with river stones and dis­cov­ered, through a process of trial and er­ror, which plants do best in the lo­cal cli­mate. She cul­ti­vates many of her own shrubs from cut­tings and sells seedlings to make a bit of pocket money.

“My gar­den means the world to me. The best is when you start a project and it all goes ac­cord­ing to plan; then you can stand back and ad­mire your hand­i­work and know that all the hard work was worth it. Ev­ery year, the Bed­ford Gar­den Fes­ti­val is a high­light; it gives me so much joy. The en­tire com­mu­nity ben­e­fits and peo­ple come from far and wide to visit our gar­dens. It’s won­der­ful to share your ef­forts with other en­thu­si­asts – it mo­ti­vates me to keep go­ing!” >>

The farm Bel­mont in the Bed­ford dis­trict has been in the Mool­man fam­ily since 1974.

By Marié Ester­huyse Pho­to­graphs Fran­cois Ober­hol­ster

Blue spruce

Hang­ing bas­kets filled with petu­nias, bed­ding be­go­nias and di­anthus adorn the cor­ru­gate­d­iron wall of the ‘bush kitchen’ in the bun­ga­low, which houses guests dur­ing the hunt­ing sea­son.

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