Head up Woodstock’s Mountain Road and take a detour along a dirt road that forks off towards the top and you’ll discover an inner-city oasis that’s many things to many people. It’s a place where plants are grown, peacocks roam and the children of Alpha School play. There’s a monthly plant sale market and weekly tai chi classes. Caretakers of the space carve wooden sculptures and make pots. Furniture factories drop off their wood offcuts and sawdust, and local residents use it as a depot for organic waste and unwanted plants and potting containers. It’s an unexpected green sanctuary nestled just beneath the major artery to the City of Cape Town that is the N2, with views from upper Woodstock through to the harbour, Table Bay and the mountains beyond, where on a good day one can see snow on the Matroosberg.
How The Woodstock Peace Garden came to be
The Woodstock Peace Garden started 13 years ago, as a collaboration between Co-Creators landscaping company and the neighbouring Alpha School for autism. Architect and landscaper Bruce Beyer of Co-Creators approached the school’s principal, Nerina Kearns, in 2008, to see if they could make better use of an unused empty field that was attracting vagrants. Co-Creators would use the space to grow plants and store their landscaping tools, while the children of the school would be able to immerse in a playpark situated in a natural space amidst clucking chickens and bathing ducks. All the while, it would be a community hub that services locals, adds greenery to a suburb with few green public spaces, and also has the benefit of creating awareness for autism.
Flora and monthly plant sales
The bedrock of the Woodstock Peace Garden is, of course, the flora. And this consists of a nursery of plants of all types and at all stages of their life cycle. There are seedlings and greenhouses for sun-loving plants and shade lovers. There are water-wise variants like succulents and fynbos varieties and
For locals, the first Saturday of the month is a calendar highlight. It’s an opportunity to visit the Woodstock Peace Garden and buy plants that are locally grown and well priced (cheaper than the local market, says caretaker and gardener Humphrey, who also makes cast concrete pots in his spare time, the “cupcake” pot being a signature piece, and works on various landscaping projects with Co-Creators). The market runs from 9am to 1pm. Don’t miss the upcoming one at the beginning of the month.
Fauna: Bird life and a koi pond
There’s a peacock named Julian and his two teenage children, who delight visitors by – what’s the equivalent of “swanning” around – and frolicking amongst the compost in the Woodstock Peace Garden. Endearingly ugly Muscovy ducks, which are particularly good for permaculture, splash about in their bird baths on hot days. Stand close enough and they’ll bath you too. Adorably, they don’t quack, but peep and chirp (they’re also called the ‘quackless’ duck) and are useful in eating unwanted bugs like mosquitos and slugs. Chickens are also kept, who along with the ducks lay eggs, and provide enjoyment for the visiting children. As Bruce says, ‘Children with Autism like to be in nature and love animals. We have had positive feedback from staff about the children’s happiness since the garden’s development.’
Lastly, there’s a koi pond, a welcome addition of waterlife to any garden which also attracts birds, and occasionally koi are on sale alongside the monthly plant sale.
Saturday morning Tai Chi with Bruce
Along with running Co-Creators, Bruce also practises Tai Chi, and hosts free Tai Chi sessions at the Woodstock Peace Garden, currently on Saturday mornings but at other times these are held during the week. Contact him to enquire about joining: +27 83 556 3143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sculptures by Noel McCully
Running the design office at Co-Creators, Noel McCully is also an artist. Her artwork can be found in the Woodstock Peace Garden in the form of large-scale wooden sculptures, from crocodiles and birds on totem poles to whales and fish. There’s a new entrance installation recently made by Noel to look out for.
Drop off unwanted plants or pots
You can also drop off any unwanted plants or pots for plants at the Woodstock Peace Garden. Find all contact details below.
Keen to start your own urban garden?
The City has made available a resource to guide you on Urban Community Gardening. Download the Step-byStep Guide to Urban Community Gardening here.