FERN VALLEY today is known as MAKARANGA GARDENS, and was the brainchild of Billionaire financier LeslieRiggall and his wife Gladys. Escaping the communist uprising in Portugal in 1976 they sought to find a spot in South Africa to create a botanical garden. They were looking for the perfect climate and after searching for many months decided on Kloof. They were single minded in their endeavours to acquire enough land to create their peace of paradise and purchased a few adjoining properties, thereafter, approaching all neighbouring properties to either buy their homes and land, or to purchase the land at the bottom of their gardens, which in many instances was vlei due to the stream running through that portion of Kloof.
With a large staff of horticulturists and gardeners they commenced digging out ponds, laid roads and walking paths and planted magnificent trees and shrubs from around the world, and actually introduced a species of Camelia to the country.
The Japanese garden with its koi has many ornaments that were imported from Japan and are antique, whilst all the original fountains were purchased in Italy, thus creating a magical 30 acre botanical garden in Kloof! There aren’t many suburbs that can claim to have their own botanical space, all thanks to the vision and passion of Mr and Mrs Riggall and the current owners since 2002, The Flack family!
Written by Terenia Surtees.