Zandvlei Trust

Una Hartley we salute you!


The Westlake Wetlands Walkway Garden, Main Road Lakeside in spring 2004 and 2005.

The colourful display of indigenous plants along Main Road opposite the Lakeside Shopping Centre, is due solely to the efforts of Una Hartley - a wise and caring woman who has a passion for the environment and all the creatures that inhabit it.

She started the garden at the Main Road, Lakeside in 2000, working with Clifford Dorse the then new manager at the Zandvlei Nature Reserve. This garden was one of the first in the area to have drip irrigation installed, saving many hours of dragging the substantial length of hoses around to keep the plants watered.
There was an incident, which she wont forget in a hurry, when the bees stung Dennis Mortimer and herself while they were working near the rockery opposite the Lakeside Fire Station. She remembers running into the fire station across the road shouting for help pulling her clothes off as she was being stung all over.

Una and Clifford planting a section                      Veronica helping Una in 2009.
of the garden in 2001.

She has maintained the paper and glass "igloo site" since inception in 2001. The funds derived from the recycling goes toward paying the gardeners she has employed to help her across the road.

Una has served on the Exco Committees from 1990 until 2005. She was Chairman of ZVT during the period of 2001 - 2003. She spent many hours attending public and other meetings about the area during this period. She lobbied and influenced many civil servants to improve and raise the standard of service delivery in areas neglected and unseen.

She started the public interest in the Western Leopard Toad (WLT) in Lakeside, which has subsequently spread to numerous ajoining suburbs. Because of the spreading interest in these very striking flagship species, a number of other areas have since been found to have some remaining WLT's. There is now a formalised study and monitoring group of local volunteers, professionals and scientific experts.
The name plate on her house is Toad Hall.

Una had these car window stickers made in 2002.

She used to organise the litter cleanups on Park Island in early 1990's, when Park Island was a forest of alien invasive bushes. It was difficult to work then, as sections had to be hacked open to make a pathway to the waters edge. The plastic litter was 1 metre deep in places, layer apon layer along the shoreline. We used to stand in the water, knee deep, pulling up the layers and all the small broken decayed pieces, which was very time consuming work. Over the years she has filled thousands of black bags with litter and junk left by others, to pollute the natural areas around Zandvlei.

Una removing bags of junk from the mountain side in 2010.

She has "hacked" (removing invasive vegetation) continuously at the Nature Reserve since 1988. Una used to cut down rooikrans and port jackson trees with stem diameters up to 30 cm with a hand saw. These trees were 4 and 5 metres tall. I remember a January with the days temparature in the mid 30's, with 5 men myself included, together we were watching her work while we sat in the shade having a rest.
For many years she provided the tea and biscuts and later on she started making "Herman" or "the friendship cake" for tea. Her backpack had all the flasks of hot water, cups, tea, coffee and milk and the eats. No one was allowed to carry her pack, she carried it with all the tools she needed. Always with her, is her trusty spade, with the wooden handle and its well developed patena on the handle.

Una in the Westlake Wetlands reedbeds 2003, 
clearing invasives where all others feared to tread.

Being a trained nurse she is a "natural carer and giver". Not only to people, animals as well. She has rescued and looked after numerous species of injured birds from Hadeda Ibis, Egyptian Geese to Cape White eyes. In her neighbourhood people phone her to help remove the snakes from the gardens or house! She has rescued all types of species of frogs, cats and dogs too. She is a home gardener of note and nurtures plants, with an interest in all the small creatures as well. She has removed many spiders from peoples walls so they dont get squashed or sprayed.

She is always there, dependable, willing to help and contribute, never wanting anything in return accept for other people to come and help. She will most often be the first person to arrive, and is usually the last person to leave. She is methodical and systematic and has little patience for people who dont do a proper job, whatever it may be. Do the job first time right!

Una likes to travel and see interesting natural areas, both locally and internationally and she enjoys spending some time "to get to know and feel the place".

Recently there was a photo in the Constantia Bulletin newspaper of Una waving a red flag to slow motorists down, so the baboons could cross Orpen Road safely.
She happened to be walking her dog and instictively jumped in to help the other lady who was trying to slow the cars down, so that an accident could be prevented.

This may give you an idea, who Una is and some of the voluntary community work she has contributed to our local area. She needs to hang up her gloves now, and let someone else take over.

Gavin Lawson  - September 2009.


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