The economic downturn has had an effect on the designer gardens at this year’s spring festival at Garden World. Alice Spenser-higgs finds out more
THERE is as much more budget conscious approach to the choice of materials and plants at this year’s spring festival at Garden World. The plants that have been chosen are what show convener Terry Möller calls value-for-money plants, proved performers that are low on maintenance.
Water features are not lavish and natural materials are used — gravel instead of paving, rock-filled gabions as outdoor tables, shrubs as screens and wood in various applications. The overall effect is one of earthiness and simplicity.
Of particular interest was the porous paving used in the overall winning garden, Lazy Days by Craig de Necker of The Friendly Plant. The mix of gravel and resin allows the water to seep through. Within an hour of being laid it can be walked on and within four hours is set enough to take the weight of a car.
Design-wise de Necker’s garden also had the most impact, with a circular arbour that floats above the central patio that contains a braai area with a built-in seating area, as well as a plunge pool that doubles as a cleverly disguised pebble water feature in winter.
It is an inviting space that is enhanced by lush tropical plants that surround the living area. The planting design is simple yet perfectly judged in terms of height, balance and texture. Palms are used for height, philodendrons as form plants and the grey leafed Westringia with delicate white flowers as a contrasting filler.
De Necker said that his gardens always incorporated three elements — water, fire and a place to sit. He likes to design hospitable gardens that are effortless to live in because everything is already there and one doesn’t need to carry out chairs, tables or move the braai.
He uses plants that are easy to maintain or virtually look after themselves.
Two other gardens each received a platinum award: Glorious Choices by Connie Pretorius of Connie Pretorius Landscape Design and Modern Serenity from Deidre van Zyl of Complex Gardens.
In drawing up the plan, Pretorius said he envisaged a courtyard space that could be used as a place for relaxation as well as for a small family.
An elderly couple would also find such a garden quite manageable.
Shrubs planted along two of the boundaries have been designed to form future green walls and raised steel gabions act as flower baskets in which plants can be changed as the seasons change. The use of gabions as part of the courtyard table displays the versatility of working with steel in a garden and gives the garden a contemporary feel.
The balance and harmony of Deirdre van Zyl’s contemporary garden has been achieved through proportion, strong bold lines and the restricted use of colour.
A palette of subtle green hues offset by white pots, paving, water feature and a gazebo produces a visually crisp and fresh garden that is softened by the clever use of plants that have been selected for their texture, shapes and harmonising or contrasting colours. For instance, a grouping of Dianella, a strappy, variegated foliage plant tones in with the colour of the wall, while the velvety brown underleaf of the magnolia brings warmth and depth.
The patio floor pattern draws and holds the eye, while the interlocking lawn areas bring about a sense of simplicity and a feeling of spaciousness.
This is an immensely pleasing garden that is a serene, calm, space.
This year’s water wise garden was Living Sculpture by David Spagnolo, of Green by Nature. It was also awarded a gold medal.
Spagnolo continues his love affair with succulents by planting them as a living wall on either side of a reflective waterwall feature. Succulents round off the plantings in this cool, contemporary garden, a move towards minimalist spaces.
Best overall garden, Lazy Days by Craig de Necker, top, and platinum award-winner Modern Serenity by Deidre van Zyl, above.