WILD AND WON­DER­FUL

South African Garden and Home - - Contents -

A Mid­lands gar­den brim­ming

with flow­ers

Sharon McKen­zie be­lieves in let­ting things grow in abun­dance – and that’s ex­actly what she did in her Mid­lands gar­den

ake the dusty road from Bal­go­wan to Curry’s Post in the KZN Mid­lands and you’ll spot the sign ‘Lit­tle Revesby’. The home of Sharon and

Peter McKen­zie is so named as

Sharon’s fam­ily hailed from Revesby in Lin­colnshire, Eng­land.

Their English-style gar­den, orig­i­nally de­signed by Dur­ban land­scape ar­chi­tect Cedric van Ryn­eveld in 1970, in­cludes a dam and groves of ma­ture ex­otic trees – planes, seven va­ri­eties of oak, cherry, prunus and magnolia. Hid­den in this for­est, Sharon has cre­ated a se­cret gar­den for her grand­chil­dren, who pick f low­ers from the many va­ri­eties of aza­leas and roses.

T

“My favourite ac­tiv­ity of the day is to watch the morn­ing mist rise over the val­ley to­wards the dam. The curv­ing beds, with swathes of del­phini­ums, al­stroe­me­ria, So­phie’s rose, lark­spur and fox­gloves fill me with joy, par­tic­u­larly in spring and early sum­mer, when the beds are awash with colour,” says Sharon, who is the fam­ily gar­dener, as­sisted in the past by Petrus Sit­hole and now by Mar­garet Ngubane and Phineas Hadebe.

Sharon is a great be­liever in slip­ping and plant­ing us­ing growth hor­mones. “Most of my daylilies, fuch­sias and clivias have been slipped or split and I have a small home nurs­ery specif­i­cally for grow­ing plants in bags.” Her beautiful pink and white dog­woods came from the gar­den of the late Bea Bern­stein, a well-known Mid­lands gar­dener.

SHARON’S TIPS

Plant beds of an­nu­als in spring that flower into sum­mer. Cut back the whole gar­den at the end of sum­mer, leav­ing the lark­spur and fox­gloves to add height and colour.

Don’t cut al­stroe­me­ria stalks, rather pull out them out at the base af­ter flow­er­ing.

Dead­head roses ev­ery day dur­ing the flow­er­ing sea­son.

An abun­dance of fox­gloves, pink salvia and for­get-me-nots are

off­set by the im­mac­u­late lawn.

Sharon’s big­gest chal­lenges come from the herd of buck that en­joy eat­ing roses and aga­pan­thus, and the arum lily-eat­ing por­cu­pines and wild pigs. “Ma­raud­ing mon­keys have put paid to my veg­etable and fruit gar­den – the only fruit tree we can pick from is the peach, which is close to the house and I can get there be­fore the mon­keys!

“I also plant my clivias in pots in the ground to stop the moles from feast­ing on them. You just have to go with it,” laughs Sharon. “The only plant we poi­son is the nox­ious bam­boo, which grows at an alarm­ing rate.”

Sharon’s favourite blooms are the del­i­cate cream daylilies she prop­a­gates, as well as the com­mon white clema­tis, that spans the arch­way at the en­trance. “I find pink salvias very re­ward­ing as they f lower all year round and dahlias and the Michael­mas daisies also put on a show as the sea­son pro­gresses.

“My mother planted bot­tle­brush for the birds, as well as laven­der and the Mar­garet Roberts for­get-me-nots. The in­dige­nous wild irises fill in gaps and tend to pop up all over. As my gar­den is full of pick­ing green­ery like penny gum and aza­lea, I help with flower ar­rang­ing for wed­dings in the district,” says Sharon.

As the KZN Mid­lands has a high spring and sum­mer rain­fall, Sharon only wa­ters the gar­den dur­ing a very dry win­ter or af­ter she has fer­tilised. Dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son, she feeds roses ev­ery six weeks with Bounce Back.

Does she gar­den to a plan? Sharon smiles and says, “It comes from the heart, and as long as it looks good, I go with it.”

WHO LIVES HERESharon and Peter McKen­zie, Shumba, the Golden Retriever, and Teddy, the Jack Rus­sell.THE GAR­DENPart of a farm, this 3-hectare, English­style gar­den in the KZN Mid­lands has large, es­tab­lished trees and an abun­dance of roses, aza­leas, fox­gloves and lark­spur. THIS SPREAD, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: This rest­ful spot un­der the oak tree is home to a bird­bath. The tall, del­i­cate spires of fox­gloves add height and in­ter­est.

THIS PAGE, FROM TOP TO BOT­TOM: Es­tab­lished trees and a white clema­tis-cov­ered per­gola made from gum poles frame the path lead­ing to the dam. Snaking up the oak tree on the left is a pur­ple wis­te­ria. A colour­ful ar­ray of pink salvia, which flower all year round, for­get-me-nots and fox­gloves.

THIS PAGE, CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT:Na­talia bougainvil­lea climbs up the front of the house be­hind a dense cot­tage-style plant­ing of daisies, for­get-me-nots, fox­gloves and pink salvia. A view down to the per­gola re­veals curv­ing beds brim­ming with green­ery and bright pink karume aza­leas. The bank at the back of the house is cov­ered with shrubs. Steps lead­ing to a glade of trees are flanked by pots of star jas­mine.

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