Reader garden A formal affair
The magnificent gardens at Eildon have been designed with balance and symmetry in mind.
Alex grew up on the farm, while Barrie made it her home 40 years ago.“When I arrived in the Bedford district, I was keen to put down roots and inspired to create a garden by the infectious gardening spirit of the local community. And it made sense to create a beautiful space to enjoy after a hard day’s work on the farm,” she says.
But it was only after she saw old photos of the house and garden that the latter came into its own about 20 years ago. Those photographs – which still hang in the farmstead’s hallway – reveal a formal garden with straight lines and a walkway down the centre.
“When I saw the photos, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. We straightened all the lines of the previous design and gave the garden more structure in keeping with the geometry of the house. Alex supported this change enthusiastically; it just felt right.
“I was excited by the potential of a formal design. As I went along, new garden rooms were established and the rest of the garden developed into what it is today.”
A simple approach
Barrie didn’t use a landscaper to help redesign the garden but rather drew her inspiration from all the gardening enthusiasts who visit the annual Bedford Garden Festival as well as from places she has visited on her travels.
“My garden design process is actually quite simple. I start with the broader concepts and then plan the details. Initially, I laid out garden hoses to create the outlines of the flowerbeds so I could get a feel for what they would look like and to decide on the focal points. When I was happy with the lines and shapes, they were marked out with whitewash and then the plan was drawn to scale. With the final design in hand, masses of our own compost and bone meal was worked into the beds before anything was planted.”
Barrie spends a lot of time working in her garden and has been ably assisted by her right-hand man, Simon Adonis, throughout the years.
“I love the creative side of gardening such as the planning and implementation of new ideas and seeing how it all takes shape. Our climate is extremely harsh. In our very cold winters, the temperature often drops below zero and we need to wrap the less hardy plants such as garden heliotrope and Durantas in frost covers. But then the celebration of spring is heightened when the garden bursts into life and glorious colour. That’s when one really experiences the incredible rewards of gardening!” >>
Alex and Barrie are the fifth generation of the Pringle family to live at Eildon outside Bedford in the Eastern Cape.
Strong lines and garden rooms
The garden has two central axes that run through it in the form of long walkways. The main axis is a grass pathway that runs from the front door to the formal rose garden at the bottom of the garden. A pathway made with flat stones collected on the farm forms the transverse axis. This runs from the main garden gate to a wooden garden gate that beckons you to walk out of the garden into the veld. The two axes intersect at right angles that emphasise the formal design.
The various garden rooms were developed from these two axes. Barrie has six garden rooms, each with a formal entrance and a central focal point. All the garden rooms are framed by either a wall, hedge or shrubbery.
The first garden room Barrie tackled was the area in front of the house – a lawn framed by flowerbeds. Then she developed the formal rose garden followed by a parklike area with lawn and trees and then the ‘Orangerie’. The latter garden room consists of 20 orange trees symmetrically planted within squares of mondo grass and framed by a dry packed stone wall. >>
Who lives here? Alex and Barrie Pringle WHERE Bedford, Eastern Cape SIZE OF GARDEN 2ha
Two pillars, originally gate posts, form a natural entrance to the formal rose garden, with two poplar trees framing the view beyond. Barrie’s garden is a sight to behold in spring when the roses bloom in abundance.
This path forms the transverse axis running from the main garden gate through the ‘Orangerie’ to the wooden gate and the veld beyond.
Farm gardens usually have beautiful views of the surrounding area. The grass walkway (below and opposite) leading to the formal rose garden is framed by lavender and white ‘Iceberg’ roses.