Reader garden ‘Welcome to my jungle’
Elvira Holz says it’s as if time stands still when she’s in her lush green garden.
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.