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South Africa Wins Gold at Chelsea Flower Show

May 24, 2011

It was a golden day for South Africa as the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI’s) 2011 Kirstenbosch – SA Chelsea entry “Botanical Landscapes” scooped its 31st gold medal at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show (CFS) in London.

Featuring two World Heritage sites, the Cape Floral Kingdom and the Richtersveld which are also biodiversity hotspots – of which there are only 25 worldwide- the design captured the judges’ imagination to scoop a coveted gold once more. With the backdrop of the majestic Table Mountain our ever popular proteas and fynbos picked according to the Sustainable Harvesting Code of Best Practice makes up a portion of the fynbos display at the show and showed the diversity of our Cape endemic plants. In contrast, the dry desert of the Richtersveld sector showed some rare, and hitherto unseen at Chelsea, species as part of the Succulent Karoo biome which is the only arid biodiversity hotspot on Earth.

Exhibiting for the 36th year the hardworking team raced to put the finishing touches and add the unusual specimens to this year’s exhibit in time for the judging. The long hours of preparation with the team of designers, SANBI members and volunteers were worth it!

A joyful team celebrated at the show joined by jubilant sponsors, Gerrit van Rensburg, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) and Alan Demby Chairman of the SA Gold Coin Exchange and Scoin shops.

Thanks to these generous sponsors the Kirstenbosch-SA exhibit was able to exhibit once more at the Chelsea Flower Show. Empowerment projects sourced through the PGWC have also been key suppliers to this display and Edwin Gouws of Mountain Dew and Dorah Siduka of Fynsa, representatives from two of these farms, were also able to enjoy firsthand, the fruits of their labours.

Visitors to the stand will also receive an eco-friendly bag sourced from women’s cooperatives in Khayelitsha through a project called “Township ”. These are just some of the ways that the global community is experiencing some of the extraordinary job-creating projects that are thriving in our country.

“Our exhibit is always popular but this year exceeded expectations as there was a fascination for the unusual specimens we were able to show” said designers David Davidson and Ray Hudson. “The display offers visitors many reasons to visit South Africa, but mostly because of the diversity of our plant life.”

As a desirable tourist destination South Africa thrives on presenting exhibits such as these. With the hope that Table Mountain will become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and that Cape Town will win the bid for World Design Capital 2014 potential visitors have a taste of what they can experience through the global excellence of this exhibit.

“This advertisement for our beautiful country benefits the Western Cape tourism industry and the rest of the country. It also serves as a showcase for empowerment farming projects that are creating jobs and contributing to the economic development of the country” said MEC Gerrit van Rensburg. “We are privileged to be part of this event and to be able to show the more than 160 000 visitors to the show what we can offer”.

Alan Demby of the SA Gold Coin Exchange and Scoin shops was effusive in his praise for the exhibit and the team behind it.

“ Some months ago, we heard that Kirstenbosch had lost their sponsorship and that they would not be able to attend the Chelsea Flower Show this year. This meant that they would no longer be able to add to their substantial collection of gold medallions they had won over the years. The South African Gold Coin Exchange and The Scoin Shop decided to come to their assistance for a whole host of reasons, such as our involvement with gold coins and medallions featuring flora and fauna. In addition we have been involved with the 2004 Democracy Coin featuring Nelson Mandela, which is part of the Protea series, which has been minted since 1976. Flora and fauna is depicted on the Mandela Medallion of Nobel Laureate fame, as well as on the world famous Krugerrands. We felt it only natural to step into the breach as the connection is so strong. In fact, we subsequently discovered that there is a Strelitzia called Mandela’s Gold! We decided to sponsor the South African Kirstenbosch entry to Chelsea, which we did, together with the Western Cape Government.” He said

“At the same time, on a personal level, to incentivise our own award winning horticultural designers, we have decided to offer them each a gold Mandela Medallion, to spur them on to win gold once again. We are pleased to announce that David Davidson and Ray Hudson have won gold for South Africa and gold for themselves! We are proud to have sponsored the event and we hope in some small way it will promote South Africa, tourism, employment and the beauty of our country.” He added

Dr Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) was delighted to hear the great news: “Once again our team has done us proud and is bringing back gold! The Chelsea Flower Show continues to reveal South Africa as a country of diverse and fascinating scenery. Our two major sponsors have enabled us to continue presenting South Africa as a tourist destination of note.” she said.

“The diversity of our regions, the richness of our plant life, the value we put on our landscapes are major tourism factors. Above all we are able to show how this exhibit benefits all communities in the long term”.

This 2011 award winning exhibit will be recreated back on home ground later in the year in Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town when residents will once more be able to celebrate another golden milestone!

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