‘Community should learn to love gardening again’

The Westridge senior, Jacobus Pietersen, 79, with his wife Dorothy Pietersen, 69, in their garden.

The Westridge senior who takes pride in his gardening, wants the community to learn to love gardening again.

When the Plainsman walked into his yard of his blue house, on Thursday March 2, the reporter was met by a sea of flowers.

Jacobus Pietersen, 79, said he has spent 31 years working at the “art of gardening”, a fondness which was inspired by working in the garden with his late parents, Hendrick and Jane Pietersen, from when he was very young, he said.

“In 1971 I came to Cape Town from George. We stayed in Bellville, then moved to Rocklands and thereafter to Westridge when we started our family. People pulled my plants out in my garden in Rocklands. I worked shifts at the time,” he said.

He is currently experiencing the same thing at his Westridge home. Instead of leaving it out front, he has to physically move his plants to the back of his house every night to protect them, he said.

He worked at Parkhurst Primary School and did a gardening programme at the school. Mr Pietersen won a gardening competition in 2019, winning the school R20 000.

“I was really proud of this because I love what I do,” he said.

Deputy principal at Parkhurst Primary School, Stephan Visser, said Mr Pietersen had impacted the school through gardening prior to his retirement in 2021.

“He is a hard working man, friendly and always caring. He loved gardening with our pupils. It was unfortunate to see him leave. He even worked on weekends. Winning the competition for the school was so delightful. We miss him, our school doesn’t have a garden at the moment but we remember all he has done for us,” he said.

In 1986 Mr Pietersen won best garden in the Mitchell’s Plain Horticulture Society’s Spring Garden Competition and in 1988 he won second place.

Roses are his favourite flowers as they are “valuable and beautiful”.

“Ek weet van rose en hul kleure ook, hulle is so pragtig,” he said.

In July month he cuts the flowers.

Standing in his garden is, Mr Pietersen and his wife, Dorothy Pietersen, 69, who got married 47 years ago.

Mr Pietersen and his wife, Dorothy Pietersen, 68, got married 47 years ago. Ms Pietersen said gardening helps with stress and helps with life.

Mr Pietersen takes flowers to his children. He shows his grandchildren how to plant flowers.

“My kleinseun het ‘n brandrissieboom geplant en hy sou enigiemand uitskel wat daaraan raak,” he said.

His daughter Bronwin Roodt said her dad is the best.

“He also had a vegetable garden and used to sell his onions, potatoes, beans, for cheap at school amongst the teachers,” she said. “Today his grandchildren are everything to him but his first love will always be his garden. My son would pick flowers from his garden for his teacher or special friend. He would also give flowers to my mom’s church, to his children and those walking by if they asked. His love for his family is as beautiful as his garden.”

Ms Pietersen said: “Ek is mal oor blomme. Ek staan ​​soggens by my kombuisvenster om na die blomme te kyk en om te kyk of dit veilig is. My man is baie goed met sy hande. Ek is mal oor die tuin maar hy is meer mal daaroor.”

Their children always throw them a party, especially on special occasions, and they put the flowers out at their events, he said.

Mr Pietersen hopes his garden will inspire the community to follow suit.

“The community should be in groups and make their gardens nice again, we should bring this back,” he said.

“Ek hou daarvan om te kompeteer. Dit laat julle toe om saam hard te werk en sukses te behaal. Ons kan pret hê om dit te doen en ook ruimtes weer mooi te maak. Tuinmaak, en om te sien hoe my blomme blom, is goed vir my ouderdom, dit is so verfrissend,” he said.