DEADP* roof garden, Cape Town

*Department of Environment and Development Planning

DEADP roof garden - flowering buchu

The roof garden of the Western Cape’s environment department.

Everything had to be figured out from scratch. Different kinds of soil, for the four biomes represented on the roof, were brought in: 40m³ soil with a hundred plant species, most of whom made it up there.

Water evaporation is high up there because of the sun and Cape Town’s strong winds at times, so the irrigation system compensates twice over: a buried drip system.

A raised path was constructed from ‘polytimber’, a recycled plastic that appears to be wood, but needs no protection against the elements.

It was a fairly expensive project, presided over by a minister keenly interested in its success, and today it is still visited every month by Marijke Honig, who has made a profound impact on the landscape of Cape Town, most recently the biodiversity garden within Green Point Park, in a relatively short career.

Some shade (not quite enough) was created through leading two wild grapes (Rhoicissus digitata - I think; Ms Honig’s firmly unavailable to talk about her projects at the moment, but I do know she likes this climber) up and over a trellis.

Tasneem Essop, who has since led the WWF international delegation on climate change, is, understandably, a busy woman and hasn’t seen the growth of the garden in her absence. There aren’t many ministers who leave behind such a tangible (or fragrant!) legacy, and the change in her career path perhaps explains the care and commonsense that gave this project such a firm footing.