18 to 20th October 2019
Now in its 15th year, the annual Bedford Garden Festival is an Eastern Cape midlands lifestyle experience that has visitors returning again and again for a dose of down to earth country fun. For three days gardenistas and nature-loving families explore country roads, linger in lovely farm gardens and discover soul-mates. The hosts are on hand ready to swap ideas on how to bloom were you are planted (as the saying goes), hundreds of kms from the nearest garden centre.
The routes straddle five mountain and grassland biomes, and traverse a number of game farms. The variety of birds and trees is eye-popping (check-lists of both are posted on this website). This is prime terrain for hiking, trail-running and mountain bikes.
This year the wonderful OLIVEWOODS FARM GARDEN will be open for viewing. Olivewoods is a farm 9km from Cookhouse on the R63 belonging to the Wienand family. The beautiful lush, park like garden surrounded by majestic old trees and richly planted steep banks will delight the eye and provide lots of inspiration.
Ten farm gardens are open this year with refreshments at most (the cream scones at Donkerhoek are a legend). Light lunches will be served at Eildon, Skelmkloof and Cavers. You are welcome to picnic at Belmont and Albertvale farms.
In the Bedford village, there are more open gardens, The SA Rosarium, plant nurseries (Ludwig's Roses at Eagle Hout), a country market, lots of shopping, live music, warm hospitality and the scrumptious food the region is known for. Art, quilts, photography, funky scarecrows and floral arrangements pop up all over.
GARDEN DAY (20 October) is an excuse for wearing flower-crowns at the festival's traditional Sunday garden concert at Cavers farm. This is the grande finale of the live music programme which sees various performers popping up at the Country Market, Eagle Hout and The Duke of Bedford Inn.
IN THE VILLAGE there is plenty of diversion. Visitors and locals have ample opportunity to network at the Country Market which has more food stalls than ever this year. Small group walks round the old part of town are led by Bedford's local history enthusiast. Early morning birding excursions take visitors into the pristine mountain forest which forms Bedford's backdrop.
Some of the district's finest stud sheep will spend the weekend at the Smaldeel Merino exhibit in the Duke of Bedford Grounds. View the range of Core merino thermal garments and sample Karoo braai specialities like skaapstertjies and skilpaditjies.
Shopping is always part of the fun of a weekend away. Bedford's Hope Street Hub with Ken Kropf artist studio, Charles Brett's music shop, Twigg fashion boutique and Woodstock & Willow homeware emporium are justly famous for their tempting offerings.
PLANTS SALES grab the bulk of retail activity. And plants are for sale all over the place. Garden assistants are encouraged to propagate plants and sell for their own account at open gardens. A wide variety of Ludwig's roses will be on offer at Eagle Hout Padstal and heritage roses at the SA Rosarium. Once again this year, there will be masses of seedlings for sale on The Duke's helicopter lawn. Lloydii Succulents has many rare specimens for sale and the fuchsia lover will not be disappointed by the wide range of specialities at Cambrian Fuchsias.
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
Keep an eye on the Bedford Garden Festival facebook page for updates and explore the website which includes loads of information about the area in general and the festival in particular. There are suggested itineraries which could help you to plan your own in advance.
When you arrive in Bedford you can keep referring to the website on your mobile device and also collect a programme brochure. There is no official entry point - visitors come in from all over, starting their visit wherever they fancy. You pay for entry at each garden gate.
What you said about earlier festivals
"Don`t miss this unique experience.........beautiful gardens, lovely vibe and the best hospitality you will ever experience!"
"Fantastic garden festival! Each year is better than the last"
"We can't stop talking about our time in Bedford and we will all be back for your next event. We will spread the word about our fabulous weekend and maybe Bedford will have to consider building a second hotel!" Marilyn Petzer
"(Norwood) is wonderful ... my favourite by far. The whole farmyard feel just made me feel so warm inside. Thank you for all the inspiration you have given me." Kelly
"my friends from Hermanus and St Francis were blown over! They couldn't believe we have such beauty, hospitality and warmth just two hours away (from PE)." Rene de Reuck
"...a wonderful garden show as ever. We visited the township gardens and loved the gardeners... they are so proud." Jane Tucker
"I fell in love with the white gardens at Cavers." Nicolette
"wonderful hospitality ... we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.. had such a great time at all the events we attended." Julie Velosa, Neutrog SA