Bringing cemetery back to life

The Hout Bay Cemetery will be spruced up with plants being placed on the outskirts.

A Hout Bay man is trying to spruce up the local cemetery, which he says has become an eyesore.

Ryan Bluck says the fence around the graveyard is “stark and ugly” and he believes plants can make it more visually appealing and dampen noise that distracts mourners.

He wants to place plants every two metres of the fence, which runs for about 190 metres along the Main Road and 65 metres in Hughenden Road.

“The amount of litter and rubbish that is against the fence makes it look really ugly,” said Mr Bluck, who drives past the cemetery regularly.

Lenore Jansen has visited the grave of her late husband, Edward, at the cemetery for the past 13 years – every birthday, every anniversary and even the odd day when she feels like having a conversation.

“We were married for nearly 40 years. We moved to Hout Bay about 10 years into our marriage, and we raised our three children right here. It was only perfect to lay my husband to rest where all our memories are,” Ms Jansen said.

Edward died in 2017 after battling lung cancer.

“We have great memories with our loved ones who occupy these grave sites,” Ms Jansen said. “The least we can do is ensure that their last resting place remains clean and is looked after.”

Mr Bluck consulted a landscaper who he said recommended canary creeper and black-eyed Susan as options for plants along the cemetery fence.

“One variety that is indigenous, inexpensive and fast growing is senecio tamoides (canary creeper),” Mr Bluck said. “It will do well in the shade along Hughenden Road.”

The black-eyed Susan, with yellow or orange flowers, would be better for full sun, he said. “Both these examples are indigenous and twiners, which we want as they will twine around the fence of their own accord. I think it is very important that they ‘self twine’ so they don’t require us to constantly attach the branches to the fence. It also means they are much neater.”

Mr Bluck ran his ideas past ward councillor Roberto Quintas who met with him at the cemetery before seeking approval for the proposal from the City.

“As soon as that is granted, they will be able to start. They are keen to get going as soon as possible so as to take advantage of the rains,” Mr Quintas said.

He has also agreed to see what shrubs are available at the City’s Newlands nursery. “The time for planting is now, as the earth is wet and rains will be present for a few more months. I’m excited to see public spaces, especially such poignant ones, being uplifted in a public-private partnership.”

The City would maintain and water the plants, he said.