This morning I had the privilege of attending the Autumn Rare Plant Fair 2011 at Rustenberg Wines in Stellenbosch in the glorious Cape Winelands. A friend had invited me and we set off early this morning as the drive to Stellenbosch is about 45 minutes and we wanted to get there early before all the good plants were sold out. And I’m so glad we did. By the time we arrived at 9.00 am parking was already difficult and the grounds were teeming with plant lovers from all over the Cape. This annual Rare Plant Fair was once again held at Rustenberg Wines. Twenty-five specialist growers were selling their plants directly to the gardening public. Tea, coffee and a variety of eats were available under the oaks, and special discounts on Rustenberg wines were available to purchase by wine lovers.

Held at Rustenberg Wine Estate, the setting was beautiful. The weather was perfect, a lovely sunny day, no wind, temperature in the high 20′s (C), and the plants on offer were simply gorgeous. I could have spent a small fortune had I taken more cash. (cash was king here, no credit card machines available). We wondered around and “oohed” and “aahed” at all the fabulous plants available (The variety of Day lillies and Orchids available were hugely impressive). I recognised many plants from books but the only plant I saw that I see regularly at the nurseries I frequent was Clivia, and at a much better price! I have plenty of Clivia in my back shade garden, so those weren’t of interest to me today. It was the rare Irises, rare, endangered and vulnerable and other special plants I was after. We shopped and then enjoyed some cake and coffee under the oaks and then … we bought some more!

Ryan bought a few bulbs, a beautiful peach coloured Rhododendron, a whole batch of Irises and the same white flowering plant I bought (Anemone). I bought a whole bunch of rare bulbs (have written about my bulb ‘haul’ here: Rare indigenous bulbs), a beautiful grass – Panicum Virgatum “Shenandoah” and a few Irises. The “Stanley Blue” Irises we bought were VERY expensive. (R150.00 each). Apparantly these have just become available and a search on the Internet returns no results so it seems this may well be true. We also bought “Colorific” and “Sinfonietta” Irises – all beautiful variations of blue Irises. I’m really excited about planting these in my garden! Lastly, I got a little four-leaf clover for R20.00. I couldn’t resist – its supposed to be lucky, right? I felt quite “lucky” getting all these gorgeous plants!

Here are some of my purchases:

Pretty white flowersPretty white flowers

The IrisesThe Irises

My rare bulb stashMy rare bulb stash

The four-leaf cloverFour-leaf clover

Now I’m off to do some more reading up on my new rare bulbs which include Geissorhiza radiens, Gladiolus alatas and Moraea villosa … just to mention a few. Such interesting sounding names!

Note about the Autumn Rare Plant Fair 2011:
This was the first time I’ve ever attended anything like this. I thought it was very well organised, the setting was splendid, the variety of plants was fantastic, the people (staff, exhibitors and atendees) were all very friendly and the atmosphere was great. The huge variety of Orchids and Day Lillies available was outstanding … wish I’d had lots more cash with me. Next time I will save up for a month or two so I have LOTS more cash with me! I’ll definitely go again.

Ryan, thanks so much for taking me! I thoroughly enjoyed the day!

Photo Gallery: (I apologise for the very poor quality of the photos – I took my small point-and-click camera and the photographs are really poor. But you get the idea …)

About Rustenberg Wines:
“Enter the gates of Rustenberg with a sense of anticipation. The historic farm, sheltered by the Simonsberg, is a Cape gem that has welcomed visitors since 1682 …” For anyone that is interested in seeing more of this beautiful Wine Estate, here is the link to their website: http://www.rustenberg.co.za/ or you can find out more about the region at Cape Winelands.