September is Arbour Month in South Africa – but for Killarney International Raceway in Table View every month is Arbour Month. In 2022 the Western Province Motor Club, which operates the facility, embarked on a long-term plan to green the 51 hectares it leases from the City of Cape Town.

The Greening of Killarney was the brainchild of Killarney executive manager Des Easom and recently deceased Pieter Cronje, an international consultant who was instrumental in obtaining a new lease for the facility. They were looking for ways to beautify Killarney and make it more attractive to visitors, as a shining example of what can be done to turn open spaces into welcoming ‘green lungs’ that improve both air quality and the quality of life for Capetonians of all backgrounds.

Pieter Cronje sought out Jan Odendaal, whose NGO ‘Green for Life’ was founded with the specific aim of greening open spaces, schoolyards and public areas by planting indigenous trees, and who introduced him to renowned horticulturists Fanie Redelinghuys of Wolseley and Wouter Kruidenier of Babylonstoren. When he brought Odendaal and Redelinghuys to Killarney, where others saw dusty open ground, they saw endless possibilities for creating Cape Town’s own Central Park.

They then joined hands with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s ‘10 Million Trees’ project to source and plant hundreds of indigenous plants, shrubs, trees and succulents around the facility.

These will reduce Killarney’s carbon footprint, green and beautify the space for members of the public attending events at the facility, and provide natural shade for spectators, while dampening perceived noise from racing events for residents in neighbouring residential areas.

The trees and shrubs will provide a more park-like green lung as recreation space while increasing biodiversity and attracting bees and birds.

A tree lane has already been planted along the access road from Gate 5, softening the vibracrete wall bordering Killarney’s off-road adventure area and reducing perceived noise in areas to the south of the facility.

There is a new garden area around the noise-abatement barriers at the start-line of the drag strip and approximately 100 trees have been planted along the noise abatement barriers at the southernmost corner of the main circuit; in time these will provide welcome shade for spectators at this popular viewing spot.

The second phase, currently under way, has seen hundreds of Kei Apple trees and Candelabra Aloes (the latter donated by Redelinghuys from his own nursery) closely planted along the northern and western perimeters of the facility to provide a natural protective boundary, while softening and beautifying the outlines of the facility’s structures, as well as significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

New gardens are also being laid out at the main spectator entrances, so that the first thing visitors will see at Killarney are lush green areas.

In later phases alien trees such as black wattle will be cleared and the firewood donated to the nearby Dunoon community. Odendaal emphasised, however, that the driving force behind the Greening of Killarney was always Pieter Cronje, who passed away recently. “Planting a tree is planting hope for the future”, was his guideline; every tree, every plant and shrub at Killarney will stand as his monument.