The Concrete and Garden Creations’ entrance is decorated with multiple award certificates, and once the sound of the many water features reaches your ears, your body rhythm slows down – as if on cue from nature herself.
“We want to create a space – a sanctuary even – where people can really and truly, if they so wish, just slow down. This is our everyday experience. It has returned a wonderful sense of peace and softness to all of us who work here,” says owner Claudia Boshoff. “We love plants, people and to create beauty.”
The idea for this award-winning enterprise came about after Claudia left the employ of the post office some years ago. Hubby Piet owned a brickmaking business in Barberton. Cement – bricks – pots? The can’t-sit-still Claudia had a light-bulb moment and, well, the rest is history.
She started with making pots first. This was in 1998. In 2004 they moved to Nelspruit, bought this land and started the business. They added the gift shop in 2006 and the nursery in 2008.
It was a steep learning curve, though. But, says Claudia, “I have wonderful, knowledgeable, experienced and passionate-about-nature-and-plants staff, and if we are not planting, we are making friends. Yes, friends – many friends – Mbombela is still platteland, you know!”
To stimulate and encourage creativity and learning, she presents her staff with themed garden challenges. These create powerful visual contrasts and delights as you browse your way through the garden centre. If you have an interest in DIY, up- and down-cycling, pot gardening and more, you may well be overstimulated when you reach the till point.
“With budgets being tight, we want to supply quality products that will not cost you your grandmother. We will, however, not sell that which we are not prepared to use or suggest to our customers.
“The awards that we have won thus far, confirm and illustrate our total commitment and passion for what we do. The economy is tough, so we will consolidate what we have and concentrate more on presenting workshops to empower people to become creative gardeners and doers of beautiful things.
“We feed off good responses from our customers and this helps us to create delight. This environment creates mindfulness and we encourage people to design water-friendly gardens so as to stay close to nature. And besides – gardening heals and plants teach patience.”
The whole family are now involved with the business. Piet is responsible for the concrete and pots department, Reinier for customer service and marketing, and daughter Vanessa for admin and then some.
If you or your garden need some TLC and grounding, Claudia “No Brakes” Boshoff and her team will introduce you to a range of plants and more that will be good for your garden, wallet and soul.
Also, watch this space because Get It and Concrete and Garden Creations are about to share some rewarding ideas and DIY projects with you over the coming months.
We conclude with some food for thought on plants and humans by Mokokoma Mokhonoana: “Plants are more courageous than almost all human beings. An orange tree would rather die than produce lemons, whereas instead of dying, the average person would rather be someone they are not.”
Some wise words from the staff
“I have been a gardener from when I was little. The knowledge I have gained over many years has nurtured and matured this love, and I always encourage customers to care for nature and especially our indigenous plants. My favourite plant is the spekboom.”
“My mum worked in a nursery. I started working there during school holidays and progressed to full-time employment, and I have never regretted following this journey. I started with propagating cycads and seeds. Later I did landscaping. As a team, we have established a beautiful garden space that nourishes the soul.”
Text and photographer: MATTHYS FERREIRA