Pat­tern, sym­me­try and rep­e­ti­tion dom­i­nate the de­sign of Leeu es­tate’s gar­den in Fran­schhoek

For Land­scape de­signer Franch­esca Wat­son, the gar­den she cre­ated at Leeu es­tate in Fran­schhoek is a green im­print For a vi­sion­ary client’s mind­set. she spoke to gar­dens ed­i­tor heidi Bertish about the project


The gar­den project kicked off in 2012. How did it come about and what was your in­stinc­tual re­sponse to the

site when first vis­it­ing? In 2012 I was asked to meet a new client with a view to re­vamp­ing the gar­den of a house he had bought in Fran­schhoek. orig­i­nally in­tended as a fam­ily hol­i­day home, the project soon mor­phed into a hos­pi­tal­ity in­vest­ment, with ad­join­ing prop­er­ties and vine­yards be­ing added and be­came the gar­den at Leeu es­tate in Fran­schhoek — an ap­prox­i­mately 100-hectare site, of which forty per cent is moun­tain, forty per cent vine­yards and farm­land and twenty per cent land­scaped gar­den.

My pre­dom­i­nant out­take when vis­it­ing the site for the first time was the com­pelling sense of place and in­cred­i­ble views up and down the Fran­schhoek Val­ley. The change in ini­tial pur­pose from fam­ily home to pub­lic space in­volved mak­ing the gar­dens able to ab­sorb many more peo­ple through it, while still re­tain­ing a wel­com­ing and per­sonal in­trigue. It also had to work the whole year round, and not just for a sea­son.

And your vi­sion for the gar­den? I came to the idea for the gar­den through dis­cus­sions with the client and want­ing to find a vis­ual way to ex­press his de­tailed and in­tri­cate mind­set. so pat­tern, rep­e­ti­tion and sym­me­try be­came vi­tally im­por­tant and re­ally what in­formed each de­ci­sion when de­sign­ing the gar­den. Laid over this is the need for re­peat­ing ver­ti­cal el­e­ments – for the gar­den not to feel flat­tened by the vast views. The over­all im­pres­sion is green, with­out colour. colour would be dis­tract­ing. The mood of the gar­den is serene. ul­ti­mately things are very sim­ple, but de­tailed per­fectly.

There are many gar­den ar­eas, di­rected views and pri­vate rooftops – each unique – yet there’s a strong de­sign

hand­writ­ing that holds it all to­gether. In or­der to unify the im­pres­sion of the var­i­ous parts of the gar­den, I re­alised early on that a spe­cific and strong sig­na­ture was es­sen­tial. This is pro­vided by the rep­e­ti­tion of pat­tern­ing in many parts of the gar­den, to­gether with a tight colour pal­ette (or­anges, yel­lows and whites) and a fairly lim­ited range of high per­form­ing plants and trees which are re­peated of­ten through­out the var­i­ous gar­dens.

Much of the de­sign is founded on clipped struc­ture. What’s the ra­tio­nale be­hind this de­ci­sion and can you

di­vulge a few of your go-to plants for clip­ping? To cre­ate an im­pact in such a large space, it’s nec­es­sary to have strong, clear ideas and to use them boldly, sim­ply and in the cor­rect scale. any­thing too small or fussy, or which has too many el­e­ments, will lose co­her­ence in such a mas­sive land­scape. My favourite clip­ping plants in this gar­den are Sear­sia cre­nata, Rhago­dia

has­tata, Jas­minum mul­ti­par­ti­tum and J. an­gu­lare, Podocar­pus fal­ca­tus, and Co­prosma repens.

We’re in love with the red benches in the cen­tre of the tree-lined av­enues. What was your colour ref­er­ence?

Plas­con high-gloss enamel paint in sig­nal red.

Your favourite area of the gar­den? It has to be the en­trance to the win­ery – it’s a supremely three-di­men­sional pat­tern, de­signed to draw the eye in and out, while echo­ing the curves

of the gable. Franch­esca Wat­son franch­escawat­; Leeu Col­lec­tion leeu­col­lec­; Bench­mark Wood Clas­sics bench­mark­wood­clas­

Lines of Pin Cush­ions ra­di­ate out­wards in the sun Gar­den, at Leeu es­tate, with flower Colour that in­ten­si­fies from yel­low to or­ange and fi­nally to red. ‘it’s an un­be­liev­able win­ter dis­play,’ says franch­esca. at each end of the Gar­den there are blocks of Plant­ings – here you Can see Pat­terned spheres of rose­mary and Rhago­dia has­tata

top left an In­for­mal walk me­an­ders above the fran­schhoek river just be­low the main lawn. the plant­ing here has been kept soft and nat­u­ral­is­tic to al­low one to ex­pe­ri­ence the cool shade and sound of the river and birds ‘I wanted to em­bel­lish the lawns In a for­mal way, and to cre­ate a feel­ing of en­clo­sure,’ says franch­esca. the an­swer to this was a planted line of clipped Podocar­pus fal­ca­tus trees and con­trast­ing bor­ders, cre­at­ing a two-tone pat­tern with Indige­nous green­coloured sear­sia cre­nata and sil­very rhago­dia has­tata

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