Take lessons from nature
Trend hunters, décor divas and garden gurus will be hanging out at Decorex Joburg. An indigenous interpretation of the white garden theme with a hint of zen by landscaper Grant Adam from Engadini promises to cause a sensation, says Michelle Swart
THE human eye is intuitively attracted to harmony. In the same way that a goodlooking figure can be overlooked when badly dressed, a beautiful house will disappear into its environment when it lacks appropriate landscaping.
This is the opinion of Grant Adam, landscape architect from Pretoria-based Engadini Landscaping, whose green fingers have produced flourishing gardens both locally and abroad. Zulu for in my garden, the name of his business encapsulates his passions — Africa and gardens.
At Decorex Joburg this weekend, garden aficionados can explore a new garden pavilion with a how-to garden theatre and inspirational themed gardens — The Outside Roof, by Blok Design; Gauflora’s Garden with Wings; a Rooftop Retreat by Badec Bros; a Garden Haven by Strawberry Kids; Schafflers on-trend garden Sow It, Grow It, Eat It.
The renowned landscapers Abacus turn a ramp into a garden paradise, while Nursery Wild show how to turn a patch of land into a green delight.
Engadini Landscaping’s White on White garden will be a showstopper for its refreshing take on the popular monochrome garden theme. This garden style combines white flowering plants and white, silvery foliage, and is most striking at dusk.
The world’s most famous white garden was created by the legendary Vita Sackville-West for Sissinghurst Castle in the 1930s. Her design started a garden trend that remains evergreen today.
“But we are in Africa,” says Adam. “We don’t have an abundance of water to maintain typical white garden plants.”
When it comes to design, Adam feels it should take its cue from both the house and its environment.
“I don’t look for inspiration in trends or other big names in the landscaping arena. Nature is my teacher and my muse.”
His indigenous garden at the expo is an ode to nature, a tonguein-cheek take on zen principles, bursting at the seams with local inspiration and innovation.
He explains laughingly how he breaks a golden rule of zen by placing aloes in the same context — “there is absolutely nothing zen about aloes with their sharp edges.” However, they contain the sculptural and iconic elements that make them look right at home in a creative, contemporary environment — a technique that has become Engadini’s signature style.
At the Engadini garden expo visitors can expect a tongue-incheek, truly African interpretation of the white garden tradition where man-made elements are creatively included in Adam’s plan. “Even tree trunks are finished with a suitable white paint. Farmers use this technique to protect fruit trees against insects, so why not replicate it in a domestic garden?”
He will layer a beach of white pebbles from big to small, a handytip for low-maintenance, nonthirsty gardens. Garden rubble, such as pruned peach tree twigs, will be braided into tumble-weed that Adam will use to create an awning. Desert roses reflect the African mood in a white mirror. Unusual pieces like an aloe painted on white canvas and a whitescrubbed dining table also form part of the white garden room.
During his years at the helm of Engadini Adam has been awarded numerous national and international medals. His major landscaping projects include a five-star hotel in Tanzania, sport stadiums and the Kenyan airport, but residential gardens remain close to his heart.
“True landscaping goes beyond establishing a lawn and filling flower beds. Basic principles such as geometric forms, a harmonious palette and textures, and the blending of these elements, as well as focal points and artistic vision, form the foundation for a successful garden.”
The landscaping should also complement the architecture. “An Italian-style garden theme is not appropriate for a thatched-roof house with an African feel.”
At a lodge in the barren Kalahari landscape he established a desert garden where the red Kalahari soil becomes a sand rug for pebble spirals, and soulful dead tree trunks from the surroundings are grouped like organic sculptures. “Mankind has stripped nature without mercy,” says Adam. “It is my duty to return what we took.” Decorex tip: Find green-fingered fulfilment at the Decorex garden theatre where an expert line-up of green gurus with spade, shovel and seeds in hand will dig into the world of organic gardening essentials. Get inspired by the trickle therapy of water features, transform garden décor with clever paint techniques and design ideas, learn to grow your own edible garden and discover the deeper meaning of plants.
Also in the garden pavilion is the Garden Café, with food and interior design inspired by the modern locavore movement.
Integrate retaining and boundary walls in your landscape planning and transform them into accent walls. Here Grant Adam mounted cement balls in a straight line against a colourful wall to add further interest to the scene.