Garden Saturday

When Stephen Gray, greatest of the kinky Killarney poets, last saw Irma Stern, she was standing at the top of her Rosebank staircase, eating a banana. “Irma, a banana!” cried Stephen. “Yes!” replied the greatest Cape Town painter. So imagine my surprise seeing Greenpoint artist Chris Denovan on the same landing yesterday (below), in front of a bunch of velvet bananas.

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Curator Michael Chandler, a bear of the brushpot, may have been channeling dear departed Irma, for Chris is certainly the most talented of the painters on his show yesterday. And oh, how quickly the prices of Cecil Skotnes have done a downwards Icarus. Splash! I’d started off in the Company Gardens which was a VOC market full of tourist tat and naffery. Of course I was being too literal to expect that an exhibition called “In Good Company celebrating the first garden in Cape Town – The Company Gardens” would be held in situ.

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Chris’ sub-Victorian colourful cartoon (above) captures the madness of the space exactly while showing it like something from a curry club in Durban explains why Michael is the go-to person for interior design in the Mother City. Irma’s own garden (below) is not as bad as it looks or as blue, as someone had adjusted the settings of my Canon to take pictures under Tungsten light.

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My second garden of the day was in the Stellenboschkloof, on Overgaauw wine estate. Everyone in our party was called Neil – a bit like a skit from the League of Gentlemen – and mine host, Russel Wasserfall (below) incorporated it into his witty serving of rare fillet and exotic chicken liver parfait made with David van Velden’s sublime Port. His mom’s Merlot jam that turned out to be made from Chardonnay, our buds were that sharp.

Then for the highlight of a heavenly horicultural day, a tasting in the Garden of Eden down the bottom of the road – Wendy Appelbaum’s Kirstenbosch in the Kloof called De Morgenzon. My words cannot do justice to Hylton’s handiwork, so here are a couple of vistas.

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The only worms in the apple or turds in the punchbowl were the Platter certificates on the wall of the tasting room signed in the future by an old fart who retired long ago and now drives around Hermanus as a pair of mutton chops dressed as a stringy lamb kebab. Shame.

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My favourite white was the Sauvignon Blanc – I’ve been over-Chenined of late – while the Maestro red blend is a marvel and cheap as chips. Which I wish Wendy’s mother-in-law, Frieda, Jo’burg’s queen of French cuisine would serve on the stoep of the tasting room along with some decent foie gras. Gary Jordan has conveniently started a bakery on his neighbouring property, so crusty baguettes and pain au chocolate would be terroir specific.

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In fact the De Morgenzon tasting room (below) could become a private dining room for the Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine. Heck drop the “e” whydontya and George becomes a French garden.

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