A farm garden in all its spring glory
Justine Siebrits says her little piece of paradise is at its best when the plum trees are blossoming and the roses are in full bloom.
When she glances out of a window, Justine Siebrits likes to see something beautiful.
And that’s exactly what she has achieved on Keerweder, the farm where she and her husband Andries live. The two farmsteads are surrounded by gorgeous gardens and have a view of the nearby plum orchard with its breathtaking spring blossoms.
This family farm is one of the oldest in the Franschhoek Valley. It lies in the top corner of the valley, hence the name Keerweder which means “turn around”. Andries and Justine have lived here since 1993; while Andries farms, Justine’s passion is the garden. Their three children – Francois, Carina van der Linde and Justus – have moved out.
“I love having a pretty garden. Some of the plants in the older part of the garden have been here since my parents-in-law’s time,” Justine says. “There are old camellias, magnolias, a lovely pride-of-India (Lagerstroemia indica) and we are blessed with huge oak trees that are more than 200 years old. We refer to the garden surrounding the original farmstead – which dates back to 1830 – as the old garden and the section around our house – built in 1994 – as the new garden. Both homes were built in the authentic Cape Dutch style.”
The layout of the old garden is formal with low white walls, brick pathways and a rose garden. In the newer section surrounding Andries and Justine’s house, the garden is more informal with natural plantings, mixed borders and tranquil ponds.
“Back in the day, I called in professional help with the initial planning of the new section and then we used that foundation to develop the garden into what it is today. As with all gardens, we’re always making changes. We’ve enlarged it quite a bit and planted lots of new trees,” she explains. “The lawn used to be much bigger with beds surrounding it but as the trees grew, the grass started dying underneath because it got too little sun. We removed the lawn and now have lovely shade borders filled with hydrangeas, clivias, tree ferns and delicious monsters.” >>
Beautiful and therapeutic
When Justine plans a border, she has a good idea of what she wants but doesn’t draw precise sketches of the desired result or compile lists of exactly how many plants she needs. Rather, when she’s at the nursery, she buys what she thinks she’ll use and then once she’s home she sets the plants out and moves them around until she’s satisfied with the layout. Justine often strolls through the garden with her children and they are quick to advise her on how to change a flowerbed or where to plant what.
Although parts of the garden have good loamy soil, there are also sections with clay soil which tends to get very waterlogged. However, Justine came up with a clever idea: she made a marsh garden with a pond and planted moisture-loving Louisiana iris, delicious monster (Monstera deliciosa) and Cordyline, among others. She’s also created flowerbeds right up to the banks of the farm dam, which lies adjacent to the garden. Here, she keeps the shrubs low and trimmed into topiaries so that the beautiful view of the garden and the plum orchard, which is covered in blossoms in early spring, can be appreciated to the fullest.
Justine says her garden is therapeutic. “Both sides of the family love plants and flowers and my husband definitely has green fingers. He propagates a wide variety of Cymbidium orchids, amaryllis, aloes and clivias, and has also planted masses of arum lilies but, unfortunately, the porcupines are fond of eating them. I’m really fortunate. What more could I ask for – I have an amazing garden and a husband who regularly brings home armfuls of flowers!” >>
The formal rose garden
The formal rose garden is situated next to the swimming pool and consists of about 200 rose bushes. This garden is divided into four sections by brick pathways – each bed has its own colour scheme: white, red, pink, and a combination of yellow and orange (see sketch). Climbing ‘Iceberg’ roses and pink and white bougainvilleas adorn the pergola in the central part of the rose garden, while a ‘Crépuscule’ rose frames the bench on one side.
Justine says the roses used to get badly scorched in summer but then they realised that the reflection off the high white wall between the swimming pool and the rose garden was causing the problem. By simply painting the wall a different colour, the issue was resolved.
“I adore roses but they need a lot of attention. We follow a spraying programme and regularly remove spent blooms. A foliar feed is administered at the same time as the spraying programme. The roses also receive 8:1:5 fertiliser on a regular basis and compost once a year,” she says.
Other than in the formal rose garden, Justine also has many ‘Iceberg’ roses elsewhere in her garden.
‘Crépuscule’ climbing rose
The rose-covered arch and pergola lend a romantic atmosphere to Justine’s formal garden.
In early spring the plum blossoms are truly awe-inspiring; the orchard forms a picturesque backdrop to Justine’s garden.
‘Iceberg’ roses and agapanthus fill the garden with colour in spring and summer.
A wooden bridge forms part of the pathway that winds through the shade garden.
[ROSE LIST] 1 Red ‘Double Delight’ ‘Francois Krige’ ‘Ingrid Bergman’ ‘Cora Marie’ ‘Papa Meilland’ ‘Red Devil’ 2 Yellow and orange ‘Flamingo’ ‘Germiston Gold’ ‘Out of Africa’ ‘Harmonie’ 3 White ‘Virgo’ ‘Green Cream’ ‘Pascali’ ‘Porcelain’ ‘Bride’s Dream’ 4 Pink ‘Duet’ ‘Burning Sky’ ‘Esther Geldenhuys’ ‘Nightingale’ 5 ‘South Africa’ 6 ‘My Granny’ and ‘Pink Sunsation’
7&8 ‘My Granny’, ‘Pink Sunsation’ and ‘Mister Lincoln’