Bedford, Eastern Cape

Bedford charm

Even in winter, Bedford retains its country charm.

Words and Photographs by Chris Marais

Cradled sweetly in the lap of the Kaga Mountains at the foothills of the Winterberg Range, somewhere between the Hogsback, Tamboekie country, Daggaboer’s Neck, Post Retief, the Koenap and the Baviaans Rivers, lies the sleepy village of Bedford.

Catch Bedford on an overcast, rainy day and its untarred side streets resemble quaint English tree tunnels, complete with wandering geese. The Rosarium down by the river displays Heritage Roses like the legendary General Gallieni, a spectacular crimson bloom.

They’re very special roses. They don’t need lots of pruning, mulching or VIP treatment. They survive severe abuse and neglect, and flower like mad for most of the year – even after a long drought. Heritage Roses will climb a tree and flower on top, given a chance. They are tenacious, disease-resistant and fit in with the latest trends of “free flowing” gardening.

Every year in the high summer month of October, the Bedford Garden Festival lures thousands of butterflies (of the insect and the human variety) to its blooms. The yards and farms of the district put their best feet forward and there are always serious real estate enquiries from urbanites who have discovered the little Settler village under the Kaga mountains.

The Garden Festival is broken up into five routes: the Valley, the Plains, the Mountain, the Village and the Township. There are other magnificent roses other than the Heritages, the local artists display their work and the event is basically a celebration of life in Bedford and surrounds.

And now, with the launch of a series of seasonal Soul Food festivals, Bedford has added a gourmet touch to its garden image.

With its temperate weather, good rainfall and Old World village atmosphere, Bedford can be described as the “gentlest” of Karoo settlements.

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