An African Sun rises at Chelsea Flower Show 2004.

The designers of the South African stand at the Chelsea Flower Show have spectacular plans for this year's show with an exhibit celebrating South Africa's 10 years of freedom titled "Under an African Sun".

This is the second year that the Kirstenbosch, South Africa exhibit will be sponsored by Old Mutual, the Western Cape Provincial Government and the City of Cape Town. Old Mutual is putting R350 000 toward the exhibit and the Western Cape Provincial Government and the City of Cape Town are jointly putting in another R350 000 through the Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO).

"Kirstenbosch is synonymous with South Africa and Kirstenbosch is one of the key shop windows into Cape Town. We are enthusiastic about partnering the public sector with the private sector in promoting the treasures of the Cape at Chelsea," said the City of Cape Town's Alderman Clifford Sitonga.

The design of the 8m by 12m exhibit is based on the landscaping design of the baobab well in the Kirstenbosch Conservatory and also echoes the ancient ruins of an African village at the cultural heritage site Tulamela (in South Africa's famous Kruger National Park). The centrepiece of the exhibit will be a giant sculpture of a baobab tree standing 6m tall and 2m wide above which will be hanging a huge bright red 'sun' (1.4m in diameter) made of dried Protea flowerheads.

Advocate Abri Meiring, Business Environment Manager for Old Mutual said: "The model this year tells the story of our cultural and floral diversity and we are proud to be showing this to the rest of the world. We wish the team well in London, knowing they will make our entry a Proudly South African experience."

Award-winning designer of the South African exhibit for the past 10 years David Davidson said he chose the Baobab tree as his "showstopper" as it symbolized the strength and fortitude of the South African people in their struggle for democracy. As getting a real Baobab to London for the show was out of the question he is planning to create a look-alike using a steel core covered in woven bark that can be dismantled and flown to London.

The baobab is being created by local sculptor Daniel Carstens of the private wild flower reserve Blomvlei-oord near Gansbaai, with the weaving of the bark covering using alien vegetation being done by unemployed women from the Elim and Gansbaai communities.

Radiating from the Baobab will be 9 interlocking circles of stone walling, each showcasing the flora of a different region of South Africa such as Fynbos, Savanna, Kalahari, Renosterveld, Succulent Karoo, Lowveld/bushveld and Eastern Cape thicket. The four corners of the exhibit will be finished off with decorative traditional floor patterns using dried cones and seed pods and will feature displays of micro flora such as the tiny succulent stone plants (Lithops).

"The tenth anniversary of democracy offers a great opportunity for the Western Cape to share its unique floral kingdom not only with the rest of the country but with the rest of world through the Chelsea Flower Show. We encourage all those who love our natural environment to visit us and to experience for themselves the warm and welcoming Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of our Proudly South African nation," said Dr Laurine Platzky, Deputy-Director General of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.


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