Reader gar­den ‘Wel­come to my jun­gle’

Elvira Holz says it’s as if time stands still when she’s in her lush green gar­den.

Home (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - By Marié Ester­huyse • Photographs Elza Cooper

says Elvira Holz of Rand­burg, Jo­han­nes­burg. The invit­ing paths wind­ing through her ver­dant gar­den lead you through leafy glades filled with fo­liage plants of myr­iad shapes and tex­tures. Splashes of colour are pro­vided by sea­sonal flow­er­ing plants.

When Elvira and her hus­band Rainer bought their home 27 years ago, there was no gar­den to speak of, let alone a jun­gle! It con­sisted of only a huge wild olive, a bay lau­rel, a few smaller trees and shrubs, and a sorely ne­glected lawn. But Elvira rolled up her sleeves and set about trans­form­ing the gar­den into the lush par­adise it is to­day.

“The prop­erty is long and nar­row, with a rounded cor­ner on one end. The first thing I did was lay out a veg­gie patch in that cor­ner. Next up was a wa­ter fea­ture and a pond, then I be­gan plant­ing around the fish pond and under the wild olive. The rest of the gar­den de­vel­oped from there,” she ex­plains.

Be­cause a huge lawn wouldn’t suit the shape of the prop­erty and would take up too much space, Elvira opted to lay path­ways that would con­nect the var­i­ous sec­tions and gar­den rooms in­stead. This not only cre­ated walk­ways but also more space for plant­ing.

“In most in­stances, I first laid the path­ways and then de­vel­oped the gar­den around them, al­though in some ar­eas the beds did de­velop first. But I had no pre­con­ceived plans for the gar­den. The beds and paths evolved spon­ta­neously and I fol­lowed my in­stinct as to what would work and what wouldn’t,” she re­calls. “I love the end re­sult and al­though I’ve made a few mis­takes along the way, I’m pre­pared to live with them.”

The gar­den is by and large green. Elvira used a com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent types of fo­liage plants to add in­ter­est, with low-grow­ing spec­i­mens fram­ing the path­ways and kept strictly in check so as not to over­grow the walk­way. There are also plants in bloom dur­ing ev­ery sea­son – aga­pan­thus, Clivia, Stre­litzia, Plec­tran­thus, aza­lea and two roses.

“The peace, tran­quil­lity and pri­vacy of our gar­den is so sooth­ing. Strolling through it dazzles all my senses. I en­joy the sound of the wa­ter, the twit­ter of the birds and the croak­ing of the frogs, the won­der­ful scents and smells, and me­an­der­ing along the paths through the dif­fer­ent mi­cro­cli­mates we have cre­ated. Whether I’m in the gar­den for work or plea­sure, time stands still when I’m here!”

“When I stroll along the path­ways in my gar­den, I feel like I’m in a jun­gle,” Most of the paths look like they’re made of real rail­way sleep­ers but Elvira chose con­crete looka­likes in­stead. “I do have wooden sleep­ers on some of the steps, but not for the path­ways. The wood even­tu­ally rots and you usu­ally no­tice it too late and then you need to redo ev­ery­thing. The con­crete looka­like prod­uct is durable and looks lovely.”

Crane flower (Stre­litzia regi­nae) Plec­tran­thus cil­lia­tus ‘Sasha’ As­para­gus den­si­florus Poor man’s cy­cad (En­cephalar­tos vil­lo­sus) ‘Cwebe’ WHO LIVES HERE? Elvira and Rainer Holz WHERE Blair­gowrie, Rand­burg SIZE OF GAR­DEN 1 196m²

Steps lead down from the bed­room pa­tio to the gar­den. The path is soft­ened by mondo grass, Cras­sula ernesti and Plec­tran­thus mada­gas­carien­sis.

A large spekboom (Por­tu­lacaria afra) forms a green wall to the right of the path­way.

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