Out of the city and away from the shoreline, Roushanna’s horticultural home is in fact more than that; it is the Good Hope Gardens Nursery, set up by her mother-in-law Gayle Gray almost thirty years ago, to showcase the mind-blowing array of flora and fauna on their doorstep.
Roushanna said: ‘I used to follow Tom and Gayle walking in the Fynbos, listening to them pointing out the Latin names of flowering or interesting plants, taking notes, smelling the fragrance of each plant while wondering if I could use them in the kitchen, and then researching each species back at home – in fact it still happens now!
‘I am not a botanist or a horticulturalist but in ten years I have not stopped learning.’
Roushanna also pointed out how comparisons could be drawn between the Cape Peninsula’s floral abundance and plant life on Islay.
She explained: ‘Fynbos – Afrikaans for “fine bush” – contains several species of the ericaceae group, sharing the same family as heather (Calluna vulgaris) found on Islay.
‘Species in this region have specially adapted to survive the salty, coastal winds and the hot climate. For example, fynbos have predominantly smaller leaves than plant groups in other floral kingdoms, which helps reduce water loss in our harsh summer climate.’
Roushanna has taken charge of several foraging trips on behalf of The Botanist, most recently passing on her skills in the field to a clutch of keen chefs and bartenders from around Cape Town, for a foraged dinner and cocktail evening in the city.
She said: ‘It is a lot of fun and also very rewarding to see what these professionals come up with. Some of their ideas you could never imagine with only the foraged ingredients to hand.
‘Being out in nature brings out your creative spark, it is empowering. For me it almost feels like a form of meditation when walking or gathering botanicals. It is empowering having the knowledge to be able to identify, sustainably forage and prepare wild edibles.
‘Among chefs and bartenders the foraged meal and foraged cocktail concept is becoming very popular, but it is also about understanding nature.
‘Another of my aims is to take more and more young people foraging, to help them understand what delicious flavours are available in our surrounding environment, and the importance of nature.
Visit Roushanna Gray’s Blog at Good Hope Nursery > or follow her on Instagram >