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Toos van den Berg has been having fun at her Garden Village, and it shows!

She has turned her green fingers to an unusual form of “plant sculpture” and created a tableau in the Palm House at her nursery in celebration of the 5 years the Van den Berg Garden Village at Klein Joostenberg in Muldersvlei.

As Toos explains,  “I wanted to have a birthday party and who better than having the plants themselves to be the star guests!”   So she got busy with chicken wire, plants and lots of imagination and the results are a real surprise.

A crocodile, an ostrich, a baboon, a stork and several other life-size figures have been created out of plants, and they appear to be really enjoying the party! 

Toos’ creativity is evident throughout the nursery with colourful displays and imaginative features. Her garden shop “specialises in the unusual”, as she tells her clients, and you certainly have the impression of entering an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures.

Toos studied  horticulture in Holland, and then spent 6 years travelling around Europe working in hotels, guest houses and garden centres doing everything from management to cooking and gardening.  In 1970 she came to South Africa for a brief visit as part of a planned trip through Africa.  Instead she met and married Piet van den Berg in Cape Town and ended up putting down her roots.    Piet’s father had come from Holland in 1946 and started an imported bulbs business.  The van den Bergs ran the family nursery in Diepriver and then opened a branch in the car park of the Town Centre shopping centre in Durbanville in 1974.

Toos carried on with the business on her own after her husband’s sudden death in a car accident in 1981.  Ten years later when the Town Centre lease expired she and her partner, Adrian purchased the land across the road on Queens Street where the nursery flourished.

In 2005 she started another nursery at Klein Joosenberg on the R304 to Stellenbosch , near the N1/ Tygerberg Zoo intersection.

“As a country business, we always have time to talk to our clients about water-wise gardening,  and creative garden ideas.”    She loves to promote organic gardening and has pioneered “paper pots” where seedlings are grown in newspaper and boxed biodegradable mini herb & vegetable gardens.    The seedlings are then planted in their paper containers which decompose quickly and become compost.

Toos, who is as colourful a personality as her much-loved plants, enjoys turning heads with her unusual marketing ideas.  During the chilly weather of last winter motorists passing by on the R304 were greeted by a large banner that shouted “Get naked in the garden!”.    “I wanted to encourage people to plant deciduous trees that lose their leaves in winter because this gives your garden a different look in winter and allows more sun and light into your property”, she explained.

For a map of how to find this nursery, and many other interesting places in the countryside of the Tygerberg area, visit www.capecountrycalls.co.za.

Caption to the photograph:  Toos van den Berg offers one of her plant sculptures a “piece of birthday cake” in celebration of the 5th birthday of Van den Berg Garden Village.

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