The blooming gardens at Garlandale High School are proof that one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure.
Most of the plants flourishing in the school’s gardens were described by teacher Lucien Hames as “throw-away plants” from the community.
The school, which launched four gardening projects last year, is excited to have started yet another garden.
Despite the water shortages, the gardens are thriving.
Said Mr Hames: “Amazingly, we only lost four plants during this time of water shortages. They all belonged to the same species of plants, so I guess it was probably the soil, more than anything else, that made them not survive. Also, teachers have brought grey water from their homes to help us water the gardens.”
Teacher Fatima Kariel said most of their gardens were indigenous ones, that did not need a lot of water.
Their initial gardening project started because of a partnership between the school and Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden two years ago.
Garlandale High is among five schools chosen to be part of the gardening project, but it is the only school in the group that managed to sustain its gardens.
Although the school’s agreement with Kirstenbosch expired already, the latter was so impressed with Garlandale’s work, that it extended the partnership.
“They were so impressed with us, that they even brought trainee teachers from Michigan State University to learn from us,” Ms Kariel said.
Mr Hames said that when a representative from Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden visited the school recently, he informed Mr Hames that all the indigenous plants growing in their gardens have medicinal properties.
Ms Kariel added: “We have plants here that can treat anything from warts, to helping people regain their appetite. It is especially beneficial for treatment in patients who have no appetite because of cancer and the chemotherapy.”
Part of the agreement with Kirstenbosch was that the school establish an environmental club among the pupils. The club now has 39 members from Grade 8 to Grade 11. One of them, Tara Kiewiet, a Grade 10 pupil, said she liked learning more about plants and how to care for them.
The activity at the school also sparked interest from the community. One resident was so impressed with the garden, they donated two 5000 litre water tanks.
The school has also teamed up with recycling company, Mpact, and has asked the community to drop off all their paper and cardboard for recycling.