Destination Johannesburg: Sought After Seedlings

Interviews | 7th Sep 2018

Tell us about Sought After Seedlings?
Linda: I believe that you are what you eat. So I thought I’ll bring some fantastic seeds into the country, heirloom varieties seeds, changing the seed import law in South Africa in the process. In 2012 the Head Chef at the Saxon wanted a garden similar to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons [in Oxfordshire, UK]. He said to me, “You’ve got the rooftop of the parking lot. Go big or go home.” We took 18 tonnes of compost and started the garden. Eventually we went to Le Manoir and now, not only do we import seeds and supply them, we also do landscaped gardens.

Would you say the organic food movement is that a trend that’s emerging in Johannesburg?
Gilda: I’ve been following organic food for 35 years. Throughout that period, people were saying, ‘Organic, what?’ But now, because in the UK and US especially there’s wonderful organic produce, it’s filtering to South Africa.

What about Johannesburg’s restaurants?
Linda: Restauranteurs and chefs want their own garden, which is fabulous. There’s definitely awareness.

Any recommendations for good organic restaurants in Johannesburg?
Jacksons Real Food Market has a focus on using organic food, also Voodoo Lily Cafe. Satyagraha House also has a beautiful vegetable garden which we’re helping them with.

Do you export native Johannesburg plant seeds to other destinations?
The world came here and took all our flowers and vegetables, so there will be a lot of produce around the world that are traditionally grown here.  For example, purple oxalis – which people think is a four leaf clover – is indigenous in gardens.

Any favourite neighbourhood or green spaces?
Linda: My favourite place is Delta Park.
Gilda: Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, you can walk in there on Sunday morning with garden tours and it’s not far from Delta Park.

How would you spend 24/48 hours in the city
Linda: At the Saxon Spa! The Living Room in Maboneng, 44 Stanley on the weekend.

Favourite gallery in Johannesburg?
Kim Sacks Gallery; she’s very conscious of African art which I love. What’s available here you will not find in Cape Town. The traditional culture is much stronger here. It’s a melting pot, everybody’s here from all over Africa. People miss out when they don’t come to Johannesburg.

Where would you take out-of-town friends for a drink?
Linda: The Living Room in Maboneng.
Gilda: Melrose Arch.

Is there anything you still need to do or see in Johannesburg?
Gilda: The décor shops in Kramerville. All the most stunning décor shops are there.

City or safari break?
Gilda: I love animals, I love the bush.
Linda: Everything is more spectacular in South Africa. Things are so intense here, the food is intense the flavours are intense. Our soil is intense. Hands down Johannesburg has the best sunsets in the whole of South Africa.

Three words to describe to Johannesburg?
Linda: Pulsating energy, pace.
Gilda: Driven, vibrant, spectacular.

Green Initiative | Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa | Luxury Hotels Johannesburg

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