When Anglo America developed Marina da Gama, Park Island was part of the original plan as a recreational area for the local community. They ‘created the shape/height of the island from the excavated sand of what is now the canals. Amongst other features on the island they envisaged an amphitheatre area in the centre. In 1999 when the rehabilitation of the island began the latter was central to the planting plan. 16 years later, with the planted trees maturing The Friends of Park Island revered that site for its solitude and the fact that very little ‘built environment’ was visible from the surrounding suburbs .
Why had the Friends of Park Island always aspired to creating a labyrinth?
A Labyrinth adds order to chaos.
Unlike mazes, labyrinths have an entrance that leads a single circuitous path to a central point The exit is found by following the same path out of the centre.
A labyrinth enfolds a creative process, helps the mind to come into a meditative state, stimulates the imagination and in our case, helps the walker connect and learn from nature.
It is a neutral meeting ground for people of all ages, diverse backgrounds, beliefs and religious traditions. [Dogs are not allowed]
Our labyrinth is a right handed medieval Chartres replica. It is unique in that it follows the natural slope of the land offering various vistas and while we cut it out of the existing dune/strandveld vegetation ,since 2016 we have been adding to that, endangered fynbos type, including aromatic and medicinal plants.
Our initial research led us to Koos Burger who was creating just such a labyrinth on the hillside in Glencairn on the Rotary Camp Site. Although on a grander scale his project gave us the encouragement to go ahead, he even assisted us with the design which we scaled down accordingly. Koos named the Park Island Labyrinth ‘the baby’ of his Glencairn endeavours.
With permission from the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve we marked it out on the chosen location and began literally cutting it out of the existing vegetation while retaining its environmental integrity. 6 weeks later Pam and I plus our Park Island gardeners completed the ‘puzzle’ We had laboured on one quarter of the labyrinth at a time, so were all curious as to how it would look when all joined together!
That Park Island Arbor day in May 2016 our community came together to plant out the first of our selected Dune/Strandveld type plants. With the exception of a couple of years of drought and COVID we have continued to add plants each year and are extremely proud of our now maturing creation. It is blossoming NOW so why not come and walk the walk ! Despite the best efforts of the moles come and enjoy Dune/Strandveld vegetation at its’ best, attended by numerous insects, birds, tortoises and small mammals.
This year we have proudly registered it with the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator
Cherry Giljam and Pam Hepple Friends of Park Island
Please add to our Friends of Park Island details at the base of the blog
NB Deep Blue have kindly taken over the responsibility of ‘opening and closing the pedestrian gate onto Park Island’ every day of the year. [see signage on the gate for seasonal changes] We sincerely thank them for offering this duty as a service to our community. In the case of an emergency the new number is 021 7907901
The number is also displayed on both sides of the gate.