Hantam National Botanical Garden
The history of the place as a garden is very recent, as it used to be a sheep farm owned by the MacGregor family, going back to 1883. Sanbi acquired all land belonging to the farm in 2007, and actual management as a garden only started in March of this year.
The retired last owner, Neill MacGregor is a man with great love for the natural environment and the foresight of practicing mostly sustainable farming, initiated by his father before him. He developed an intricate system of grazing that he considered most beneficial for sheep and the plant diversity naturally found on this piece of land, and also eventually stopped growing grain all together. This meant that part of the land had never been plowed, and the rest only grazed for the last 25 or so years. If you consider how bulbs grow, these are very crucial aspects, as they are no annuals happily coming up from seed landing and sprouting on disturbed ground, but are perennials that need to stay in the soil undisturbed often for many years until flowering. Beside of most of the koppies (=fields) being used in this fairly gentle manner, one koppie next to the gate was always considered especially rich in bulb diversity and left undisturbed. This is now called ‘Neill’s Reserve’, to honor the man with the foresight of conservation during times when the ‘civilized world’ considered all things manmade and chemical superior to nature, which was (and by many still is) considered in much need for improvement by us humans.