We invited blogger, Anje Rautenbach of Going Somewhere Slowly to spend 24 hours with us in Bedford, Karoo Heartland.
There’s something irresistible about roses. Maybe it’s the royal connection or the carefully layered petals, the intricate swirls, the care that goes into growing it or perhaps it is the smell; perhaps the reasoning behind its irresistible nature lies in that moment of anticipation, of gently grabbing the rose by its stem, lowering your head, and then breathing in the sweet scent of serenity.
Bedford knows all about the irresistible nature of roses, in fact, when a group of South African Old Rose enthusiasts attended the World Heritage Rose Congress in France in 2009, they were inspired to develop an Old Rose sanctuary in South Africa to reserve and perpetuate the valuable genetic traits of South Africa’s old roses which were brought to the Cape of Good Hope from the early 1600s onwards.
What was an idea in 2009 became a reality and it bloomed in 2012 when the SA Rosarium, located in Bedford in the Eastern Cape, was officially launched at the World Rose Congress. Five years later and the Rosarium – with its numerous unique heritage roses – has become a must-stop spot for visitors and a colourful sight to see, unmanicured, unpretentious and quite unbelievable; especially during Bedford’s annual Garden Festival.
When you stop and smell the roses it quickly becomes clear that Bedford is a garden town. Residents live close to nature with their fingers in the soil, their beings in the present, their hearts of hospitality in their smiles and with an eco-mindedness that inspires change. You’ll find flowers, trees, herbs and vegetables in the community, at businesses, in home gardens and even at the Duke of Bedford Inn, an elegant Victorian hotel; locally grown, from the chef’s garden to your plate.
Bedford is a garden town but there’s more to it than just the gardens.
Over the years, with the right amount of sunshine, love, care, warmth, fresh air, time and space – all key ingredients to keep plants in a pristine condition – the town has grown. And not necessarily in size, but in heart.
Over the years Bedford has grown and attached itself onto the hearts of visitors as a town that leads by example; a town focused on recycling, a town focused on uplifting and empowering the community, a town focused on teaching, a town focused on mindfulness, a town focused on going forward yet staying true to their humble roots.
Over the years, and after more than a decade of Garden Festivals, Bedford has grown into a town – a destination – you have to experience, you have to indulge in, you have to feel.
4 THINGS YOU MUST FEEL IN BEDFORD:
Eagle Hout Padstal
The Eagle Hout Padstal is well-known for its restaurant, nursery, gift shop, eco-brick and herb garden and for handcrafting solid wood furniture – a talent that has been passed on from generation to generation. But of course, there’s more to it than what you see from the outside. There is also another passion present: recycling and upcycling. At Eagle Hout they recycle anything from cans to plastic to fibre optic cables (which get innovatively transformed into droppers for fences, walkways etc.)
The Apprentice Deli
From dainty sweet treats to wholesome meals, The Apprentice Deli has it all. A passion for food is ever-present in this Hope Street restaurant, plus in true Bedford-style, they also play a strong role in uplifting the community as it provides hospitality training.
Thrive in Bedford
Thrive in Bedford is a new addition to the town but the idea behind it is not new but a dream that blossomed into reality. Thrive is a collaboration of holistic nurturing facilitators – Kim, Cathy and Suzie – who believe in making sustainable lifestyle-shifts to nurture and nourish mind, body and soul. Thrive in Bedford offers workshops and retreats where you can learn more about food and nutrition, gardening, creativity, mindfulness and yoga.
The best time to visit Bedford is during (or around) the annual Garden Festival when private gardens – which have been nurtured and nursed during the year – are open to the public, such as Maasström Farm, The Long Garden, The Cooks Garden at Albertvale Farm, the Township Gardens and 8th Durban Street. The Rosarium is open to the public throughout the year, but the best time to visit is around October and November. The Chef’s Garden and the Caltex Bio Garden at the Duke of Bedford Inn can be viewed throughout the year and offers guests the opportunity the learn more about how to turn your backyard into nutritious food. Another point of garden interest not to miss during your visit is the Eco-brick and Herb Garden – an upcycled garden from a green construction method – at Eagle Hout Padstal.
For accommodation and dinners, put the Duke of Bedford Inn on your Bedford itinerary and you can also enjoy breakfast and lunch at The Apprentice Deli, Sugar Shack, The Village Farm Stall and Eagle Hout Padstal. To take a piece of Bedford home with you, visit the Hope Street businesses, all part of the Duke of Bedford Inn’s hotel courtyard or Eagle Hout Padstal, which also sells plants. If you find yourself in Bedford during the last weekend of the month, visit the Bedford Morning Market (on Saturdays).