The Gardener’s Tale by Richard Gould

The Gardener’s Tale

Like so many who live along the Garden Route we take the Fynbos for granted and assume that it will always be there for us and generations to come. Our Proteas and Ericas grow and flower without any of the effort that we put into the gardens that surround our homes. We don’t mow the Fynbos or put down fertilizer or get down on our knees to dig out the alien weeds.

Instead we take it for granted and cause wildfires with careless braais and illegal fireworks that wreak havoc with the natural cycle of the Fynbos. We take hikes through the Fynbos and leave behind our litter while putting nothing back to preserve the Garden Route for future generations.

But if that were the only thing we were doing it would be bad enough but instead we have embarked on a campaign to kill off all of the gardeners whose daily work is to maintain the health and sustainability of the Fynbos garden. Without them our Garden Route will turn into a barren wasteland of parched earth, tarred roads and concrete buildings.

Ecosystems are a delicate balance and by brutally killing off our gardeners we prevent them from reseeding and fertilizing 24 species of Fynbos. These gardeners do not need us to pay them for their labor or provide them with housing and electricity or healthcare. They have been successfully maintaining our Garden Route for millions of years without us.

So how do we “reward” our gardeners? We lie about them! We call them “marauders” and “dangerous” and treat them like “vermin”. We make no effort to understand the role they play in providing us with our Garden Route but instead we shoot them or cage them or drive them into areas where there is insufficient natural foraging in order for them to feed themselves.

So what will happen when we succeed in killing off all of our gardeners?

What will be left of what was once a Natural Wonder of the World? Will our grandchildren be forced to look at pictures of our National Flower because there are none left growing along what used to be known as the Garden Route?

Next time you see one or more of our gardeners please pause for a moment and realize that the natural beauty of the Fynbos that surrounds us is made possible by their tireless efforts. Without them our lives would be poorer because we actually need them far more than they need us. We are incapable of sustaining the Garden Route ourselves.

Gardens play a vital role in our lives because they connect us to our roots. We have a responsibility to preserve our Garden Route for future generations and without the selfless work of our gardeners we are going to fail to do our duty.

Our gardeners are key to the sustainability of the Garden Route.

Richard Gould

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