We went to Obesa Nursery in Graaff-Reinet expecting to bring back a few plant friends but ended up making a human friend too. What a delightful human Johan Bouwer, owner of Obesa Nursery, is. Witty, intelligent and not one to mince words, he loves and believes in one thing: plants.
Johan started the nursery as a hobby in 1970 and the garden has since grown to over 10 hectares of land, and into one of the biggest privately owned cacti and succulent nurseries in the world. Obesa is so much more than just a nursery though – it’s a magical green, pink and (Karoo sky) blue wonderland filled with over 7,000 species of plants. The garden has only been open to the public for six years – I for one am incredibly grateful that he decided to share his passion with the world. Have a look-see, I think you’ll share my sentiments:
We were lucky enough to have the garden to ourselves during our visit. We walked through the magical maze of towering cacti (some five to ten meters high) and succulents for a couple of hours. We spent another hour in the ‘shop’, hand-picking new plant friends and talking to Johan about life, plants and everything in-between. We left with happy hearts and pretty presents – he politely declined to accept our money for the plants, “It’s a gift”, he said, smiling with his eyes.
We’re already planning our next trip to Graaff-Reinet – to pop in to Obesa to say hello to our new friend, and to visit the Valley of Desolation, which I hear is magnificent. If you’re planning a trip to the Eastern Cape be sure to set aside two full days for Graaff-Reinet, and give yourself at least half a day for a visit to Obesa Nursery, followed by ciabatta pizza, and Karoo lamb burgers at Polka Cafe – you won’t be disappointed. Belowe.