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Horticulturist Keith Kirsten returns to retail

The Keith Kirsten Garden Centre in Waterfall.

Celebrity horticulturist Keith Kirsten is returning to retail after selling his first chain of garden centres a decade ago. Come March 2016, his new Keith Kirsten Garden Centre franchise, will open at Waterfall Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg.

There, budding gardeners and old hands can chat to him, attend one of his lectures and get advice on starting or improving their own gardens, while still being able to order a variety of plants, shrubs and trees and have them delivered directly to their homes.

According to Waterfall Estate News, “Keith Kirsten is that rare example of a celebrity horticulturist and his name on the nursery at Waterfall Estate will likely prove a big attraction.”

Kirsten is quoted as saying he wants people think about gardening differently. “People are thinking more sustainably, so we are hoping to bring something very new to Waterfall Estate,” he says. “It will be an indigenous environment for a new age of gardening.”

Sustainable gardening is a key focus, with the emphasis being on organic gardening. Growing indigenous plants, herbs and vegetable gardening, water-wise gardening and recycling, and giving lectures and gardening advice are all included in the centre’s ethos.

The centre boasts 5,000m² in extent, and will include two restaurants and a high-end furniture store known as The Private Collection. Plants and shrubs will be sourced from around the country, particularly Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, and Mpumalanga.

“I saw the centre as a growth point and coincidentally the Mia family, who developed the estate on land it owned, asked me to put my brand and efforts into Waterfall,” he is quoted as saying.

Monoculture gardening, characterised by neat rows of lavender marching down a path of primly segregated beds of this and that, is waning in popularity. Something Kirsten is glad to see the back of.

“Land is valuable and if you only have a small space you can still do much with it,” he tells the newsletter. “Why have lawns when you can have flowers? Colour is very important in gardens today as it allows homeowners to add that personal touch to their gardens. So our centre will have colourful plants with lots of seasonal colours for people to tart up their containers and high-profile areas.”

The centre and franchise business will be operated by Goodwin family with Keith playing a hands-on role.

HomeTimes is fortunate to have Kirsten writing a monthly column for the website, and looks forward to his input and feedback from readers.


Who is Keith Kirsten?

Horticulturist Keith Kirsten.

Horticulturist Keith Kirsten.

Kirsten’s other activities include guiding annual trips to the Chelsea Flower Show and running a guest lodge in the Magaliesberg. He is a patron of Food and Trees for Africa, as well as for the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa. He chairs the South African Nursery Association Bursary Fund, which helps needy students to study horticulture and landscape technology, while his company, Keith Kirsten Horticulture International, also project manages large-scale landscaping projects countrywide.


Alison Goldberg is the former property editor of Business Day (1985) and the Financial Mail (1991-99). In 1995 she won the Sanlam Financial Journalist of the Year Award. She has edited such titles as National Constructor and The Miner in Australia and has freelanced for The Star, The South African Jewish Report and The Jerusalem Post.

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