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  • Lisa Martus


Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Nature is putting on her party dress and she looks bloomin’ lovely🌸 Come to Magoebaskloof and join in the celebrations

To celebrate Spring in all its glory, Magoebaskloof is hosting the annual Spring Festival from 23 to 25 September 2022. The famed Cheerio Gardens is where Sheilah (Box) Thompson planted 23 hectares of azaleas and ornamental cherry trees. The attention she lavished on her garden has resulted in a living tapestry of colour in spring when the azaleas, crab-apple trees and flowering cherries are in full bloom. The pathways meander through banks of flowers in a million shades of pink and the gardens, as well as Sequoia Garden Retreat next door, attracts hundreds of visitors each year. Explore the neighbourhood - add a visit to Kuhestan Organic Farm on the J road and Kings Walden Garden Manor in Agatha onto your list for floral fabulousness!

You’ll find the Magoebaskloof area abuzz with an exciting interactive Art Exhibition at Cheerio Gardens. Haenertsburg will also be vibrant with stalls, live music and beer, gin and wine tent while The Magoebaskloof Hotel will have various exhibitors, live music, express spa treatments and a jumping castle for the kids.

As you arrive in Magoebaskloof, open your windows and let the mountain air work its magic on your mojo and your mood… the secrets will begin to emerge. Tucked into the warm embrace of the scenic dirt road, the moss-covered wrought iron gates are wide open...welcoming you to Cheerio Gardens. Little pathways painted pink with fallen cherry blossoms after the rain, lead through an archway of trees dancing in the filtered morning light. The fragrances are heady and heavenly as you follow your nose past the swing and over the stream...all the secluded places tucked away for you to discover. Petals blow a confetti kiss as you step into a captivating space where the sky seems to have fallen into the dam through an azalea blaze.

Cheerio Gardens has been the heart space of a long line of intrepid women whose roots are deeply interwoven into the fertile soil. Box Thompson transplanted her passion into purpose and left the legacy of these renowned Springtime gardens which, two generations on, Sarah Hillary has transformed into a wedding space where couples celebrate love and life.

Cheerio Café used to be the packing shed where all the autumn bulbs were sorted and packed for delivery to nurseries worldwide, but today, Sarah’s mother, Jane Hillary arranges vases of her indigenous King Proteas, Pincushions and Warratahs which, apart from the famous azaleas and cherry blossoms, are the signature blooms of Cheerio Gardens. She makes the best pecan pie you have ever tasted with just the right amount of syrup and fresh cream...a recipe passed on through the generations and best enjoyed with the rich and earthy Cheerio-branded Coffee.

Kim Wacker took over Cheerio Café in 2022, taking the leap to add it to her portfolio along with the popular Eatery on Rissik, in Haenertsburg. She has kept the same menu with some improvements and is adding the option of various cakes, malva pudding and divine brownies to the signature pecan pie. She also offers the mostly international guests from the Africamps Glamping tents on site both a breakfast and a braai box complete with marshmallows to toast on the fire after supper. Kim’s family has been on ‘The Mountain’ since 1983 and she grew up here. After living in Cape Town for 15 years with her husband, Kurt, she longed for mountains so they ditched city life and returned to Magoebaskloof in 2015. She loves the slower pace and feels that their indigenous farm with wild animals has been a lovely place for kids to grow up. Pop into the Cheerio Café for breakfast and artisanal coffee, a scrumptious thin-base pizza straight from the pizza oven with a gin cocktail or something to satisfy your sweet tooth. Call Kim on 079 638 0329.

The magic of Cheerio Gardens leaves a lasting impression on you even as it whispers its secrets to the wind. Make it your first stop over the Spring Festival and weave your adventures from there.

The best time to see the flowers in bloom is usually between 16 September and 9 October. The Gardens are open from 9.00 to 17.00. Entrance fee for visitors during Spring is R30.00 per adult and R20 for pensioners and kids. (Card only, no cash please)

Want to take some of the Springtime magic home with you? The Kings Walden Garden-guru, Bridget Hilton Barber recommends:

  • Olive Tree Nursery on the R36 just outside Tzaneen (082 928 3423)

  • Martindale seedlings in Marula Street, Tzaneen (015 001 5307)

  • Allesbeste Nursery on the R71, near Tzaneen (015 307 3076)

  • For Clivias, go to Roumen Farms Wholesale Nursery in George's Valley. (By appointment only: call 083 628 4640)

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