Coming up roses in Mooi River

By Nerissa Card

Filled with more than 2000 roses, jaw-droppingly beautiful is probably the best way to describe Claire and William Meyer’s garden on the outskirts of Mooi River.

“I’ve always been passionate about roses,” says Claire. “My mom was mad about them and always had a beautiful rose garden.”

Claire and William, an avid vegetable gardener, began planting five years ago.

It’s a spectacular time for roses and views of the Drakensberg mountains on a sunny Spring day. Pictures by William Meyer and Garth Johnstone

“We started from the back of the house, which had just been built, and have worked our way to the front. I have used a lot of cuttings, which William propogates, because the garden is too big to buy all the plants,” says Claire.

Describing the different varieties, she says her taste in roses has changed over the years.

“I use to love hybrid teas, which are quite tight flowers, but now I love floribundas, which are more open, English country garden-style,” she says, as we amble through her cutting garden, the perimeter of which is surrounded by sweet peas.

Sweet peas

“Funnily enough, sweet peas are my most favourite plants. They are so scented and soft. They are just beautiful,” Claire says.

Having a rose garden in Mooi River is not always, er, rosy, however. The climate can play havoc with it.

Eye-catching lavender and some of the trusty family hounds.

“In 2014 we had such a bad storm that we literally lost half our garden. When we started it, I tried to draw a plan, but it doesn’t always work. We had to take into account the wind direction and rain. We planted trees at the back to give shelter from the south wind, but we can’t do anything about the north wind because we don’t want to plant out our view of the mountains,” she says.

A beautiful rose archway, one of the many features that light up this wonderful garden.

“Also, roses don’t like mist and rain on their leaves, so they get mildew and blackspot very easily up here. I am trying to go organic, so I use my own mixture of garlic and chilli for insects, but I have to spray for mildew.”

Apart from the roses with which they surround themselves, Claire and William have four children, seven dogs, 10 horses and soon they’ll be adding a pot-bellied pig to the family.

Chocolate

For now, though, they will be enjoying what is truly a labour of love.

“When I cut roses and put them in a vase it’s the same sensation for me as eating chocolate,” says Claire.