Rehabilitation at The Homestead — for plants!

At The Homestead, we genuinely care about the environment. That includes conserving and protecting plant life as well as wildlife. That is why we chose Alex March, from Nkosi Nursery, as our landscape gardener and horticulturist. His love for plant life embraces rehabilitating South African plants.
Alex March specializes in South African plants. He studied horticulture, worked in South Africa and the UK for a couple of years, then came back to South Africa and started his own business, Nkosi Nursery, in KwaZulu-Natal.

Constructing The Homestead meant disturbing the landscape and a decision was made from the very beginning that any trees and plants that were in the area would be rehabilitated and replanted back around The Homestead. Alex, and Nkosi Nursery, had the expertise needed to complete our mission.

As well as caring for and re-settling the plants that had to be taken away from their original environments, Alex is working on the replanting of these plants onto the living roofs of The Homestead lodge and the surrounding suites.

Our living roofs are planted with native grasses and vegetation so that The Homestead not only blends into its environment, but also reinstates habitats for wildlife that were displaced by the construction of The Homestead. And that certainly isn’t something that every luxury eco-safari lodge in South Africa does.
“There was about 2,500 square metres of roof to be done,” Alex says. “They all had to be filled in to about 400 millimetres in depth. And that equated to about a thousand cubic metres of soil to be moved onto the roof. The sand was sourced locally and the compost was brought in. All the components were mixed to become a free-draining medium that does not become compacted. Then we started planting. We had grown the grasses in the nursery and then transported them back here.”

“It is on a very big scale. Most of the grasses are perennials, although we did put in some annuals, so it is relatively self-sustaining. We have put some aloes in there as well. Birds, animals and insects make these planted areas their homes. There are many South African birds that have already begun to mark out their territories on the newly planted vegetation.

“I saw a couple of Bee-eaters and a familiar Chat, a couple of Mocking Chats on the rocks, and of course there are the Log Claws and the Widow Birds.”

A bird hide is being built at The Homestead for bird watching by the watering hole, which will be perfect for those guests who are keen birders to see the 250+ species of birds that live in Nambiti Private Game Reserve.

The Homestead, with Alex’s help, is also planting a herb garden for Executive Head Chef Kamarl and his team to be able to have the freshest ingredients in the restaurant, picked straight from the roof above.

“In this part of Africa, water is not naturally plentiful so rainwater will be harvested, but the plan is to go via the natural route, which means that in the winter the flora will die back, go brown and look like the veldt around The Homestead, and then when the summer comes and the rains come back, it will green up again.”

This means that The Homestead will blend into the environment all year round.

“As well as indigenous species there are many non-indigenous species on site like the Jacaranda trees, which have been there for around 60 years,” he adds. “There are also some very large Australian Gum trees. We will leave the big ones, because if we took them out it would detract from the essence of The Homestead, as they are part of its history.”

While they have been working, Alex and his team have been enjoying their own big five safari! “The site is fenced, so I am hoping the elephants don’t eat the young plants,” he adds.

“I have seen black rhinos and a cheetah. We even saw a herd of elephants grazing nearby, which was lovely.”

For our guests, the landscape around the lodge has been designed to allow all of the natural beauty and wildlife to thrive at The Homestead causing the least amount of disruption to the environment. We can’t wait for you to experience it all!