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Alex Smith

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Secret Gardens of Cape Town #15: Rust en Vreugd

No matter how lovely the surroundings are, when one feels glum, not even all the sugar birds in the garden will cheer one up. That’s what Elias and I discovered at Rust en Vreugd, which translates as peace and happiness. Elias and I were not happy as we rambled through the gardens of the rococo-influenced homestead built in 1778 by the Dutch East India Company. However, I do have fond memories of place, of picnicking on the lawn one hot summer workday, when Andrew and I first met. This garden really is secret: it is surrounded by city and a high wall (presumably to keep out the Cape Lion in its day), you have to know the right driveway and then, if you are in the right frame of mind, it is as the Iziko webpage suggests ‘a soothing and fragrant oasis’. Unfortunately, both Elias and I were coming down with a 24hour bug when we visited, and so were both unaccountably miserable even though the lemons in the lemon tree were the biggest we’ve ever seen. I thought of this garden and our visit when I heard about Robin Williams last week, because at first it seemed unfathomable that somebody so loved and so brilliant could end it all in lonely sadness, but then I remembered how it was to be in what seemed like a heavenly place and yet be so unhappy. If one’s body and one’s mind are in distress, nothing seems beautiful. Elias cried the whole time as we strolled down the lavender-lined pathways; he wouldn’t even eat his favourite ginger biscuits.
We will have to visit again.
And Robin Williams wherever you are now, rust en vreugd. I’ll never forget Good Morning Vietnam.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    August 21st, 2014 @00:52 #

    The virus doing the rounds sweeps in with a great black cloud of misery and wretchedness, along with more physical symptoms. Hope you both feel better soon -- and keep posting garden blogs, I'm loving them.


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