Rondebosch East woman paints with plants

Merle Lodewyk and her daughter, Leigh-Ann Williams, at the garden on the grass banks facing the M5

Some use watercolours, oil and acrylics to paint, Merle Lodewyk, of Rondebosch East, uses plants and flowers, and she’s been using them over the past decade to turn her neighbourhood into a work of splendour.

Any M5 motorist taking the Kromboom Road turn-off towards Rondebosch East will see her handiwork on the grass banks. She has also beautified a 50m-stretch of pavement in Parkway Close, near her home.

No one would have given the area a second glance before this green-fingered senior citizen took an interest in it.

“It was a naked area, brown, mostly full of weeds, and I wanted to put colour into the area,” she says.

Every week, Ms Lodewyk and her gardener, Markus Chifundo Chitandah, tend to the area, and she says their efforts have been praised by neighbours. “One neighbour is always giving me chocolate for all the hard work, and I say that I do it for the love of it.”

Ms Lodewyk has always loved working in the garden. Her late grandmother, Pauline Kupido, was passionate about gardening, she says, and her uncle, Sydney Rustin, has a big garden at his Rondebosch East home.

Clivias, lilies, Watsonias, firestick plants, wild garlic and poppies are just some of the paints on Ms Lodewyk’s palette. Stones decorate the edges of the gardens, and paths are fashioned from old wall slabs.

Ward Councillor Mark Kleinschmidt says Ms Lodewyk’s efforts should be commended.

“I encourage and challenge all residents in Ward 60 to follow suit in beautifying your neighbourhood. Please do not wait for the City’s officials to set the tone, but, instead, in conjunction with the City’s recreation and parks officials, do your bit to enhance open public spaces.”

Another resident in Parkway Close, Rashaan Warley, says Ms Lodewyk’s hard work not only makes the area look beautiful but it also creates a good energy in the neighbourhood.

The beautified pavement in Parkway Close.