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A Visit To Charles Hewson's Garden: The Hewson Collection

A Visit To Charles Hewson's Garden: The Hewson Collection

A Visit to Charlie Hewson’s Cycad Garden

The garden of the late Charles Hewson, in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, may have been the most significant cycad garden in the history of the African continent. In early April 2002, my son Adam and I had the chance to visit this garden.

Charlie Hewson was a self-made entrepreneur who had built and sold off a successful auction business in Grahamstown before moving to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Upon moving to P.E., he commenced his second career, real estate, buying land and developing properties. He also began to collect exotic birds and cycads. His bird collection was world-renowned, and created such a cacophony that his neighbors complained. So, he bought out all of the properties adjoining his, and rented them out to people who did not have a problem with the birds’ noise!

In terms of cycads, Charlie traveled throughout South Africa, collecting plants under permit, and bringing them to his garden. When you look at some of the photos here you will see literally hedges of cycads, islands of rarity in the gardens at the Hewson residence.

Among the more amazing cycads in the Hewson garden was the large Encephalartos latifrons which seems to float above the E. lehmannii in this photo. It is over 10 feet in trunk length, with numerous offsets. There is also a detail photo of the offsets.

Other impressive plants included a 10 foot tall E. longifolius and a hedge of the rare E. horridus “Dwarf Form”.

Greg Holzman, a fellow Cycad Society Board Member had visited Charlie Hewson in the early 1990s. His article recalling that visit can be seen in Issue #5 (B&W edition).

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A Visit To Charles Hewson's Garden: The Hewson Collection