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Gardening Gogo wins inaugural Bedford Township competition

Bedford Township Garden Day competition winner Irene Nqobe celebrates with her son, Sgqibo Nqobe, in her garden

Though gardening is considered a relaxing activity with health benefits of its own, garden lovers from Bedford Township have introduced a fun approach, adding a gardening competition to their annual Garden Day celebrations on October 20.

The nationally celebrated day coincided with the annual three-day Bedford Garden Festival, which sees a number of gardeners from the township open their gates to visitors.

The day’s celebrations are themed around downing tools and spending the day in one’s garden, hosting friends and family.

At the weekend, 40 township gardens took part in the competition which saw elderly community member Irene Nqobe, who is in her late 70s, win first place for the best garden, followed by three runners up — Edith Williams, Gladys Rossouw and Margaret Lupuwane.

Nqobe, who has been gardening for about 10 years, is known as the community’s vegetable vendor who sells her produce to surrounding shops and the public.

Bedford Garden Festival committee member  Catherine Knox said: “The idea is to have everyone just relax with their friends in their garden and not work but celebrate the joy of gardening.

“The tradition is that everyone wear a crown of flowers on Garden Day.”

The Bedford Garden Festival committee partnered with Garden Day SA in judging the township’s first Garden Competition.

“The gardens were judged on neatness, healthy plants and a mixture of flowers and vegetables, because township gardens are encouraged not to grow only flowers but veggies as well.

“The gardeners really try to encourage their neighbours to also garden and keep their gardens clean.

“Not only does it add community value but it encourages people to take pride in their homes and influence others to take care of the township environment,” Knox said.

Knox said one of the project’s most important benefits was food security for the community. As such, they encourage all gardeners to grow food in their gardens.

On Sunday, some of the gardeners gathered at the Eagle Hope public garden in flower crowns and Garden Day T-shirts.

The township open garden project has been running for 12 years, with gardeners receiving mentoring from the Bedford Garden Festival committee to prepare their gardens for visitors during the weekend of the festival.

The Bedford Garden Festival is held annually in October, attracting visitors from across the country.