Reader garden The beauty in simplicity
Clean lines and structural elements are the hallmarks of this gorgeous Highveld garden.
When Henriëtte and Johan de Beer viewed a house on the charming Bankenveld Golf Estate in eMalahleni in 2016, it was love at first sight.
“From the get-go we adored this contemporary home,” says Henriëtte. “But we weren’t impressed by the garden. It lacked character and there were no focal points or nooks in which to relax. I believe garden nooks are important because they give you a chance to sit and enjoy your surroundings.”
The De Beers approached Yvonne Joao of Jardinier Landscape Design & Décor as she’d landscaped their previous garden. Her brief was to create a more classic space with lots of structural elements. Yet the aesthetic had to be uncomplicated, with not too many different types of plants and colours. Yvonne took on this massive task with the help of her contractor and right-hand man Stephan Eyssel. “Our vision was to create an informal garden, but with striking structural elements: steel girders and panels as focal points, garden paths that lead you to interesting corners, eye-catching hedges that frame the beds, little details and unexpected elements that draw the eye and give you pause for thought as you admire the space,” says Yvonne.
“A special nook for every time of day and focal points that can be seen from every room in the house were a priority. The garden also had to have fragrance and atmosphere.”
Lawn and mass plantings
The house, with its strong architectural lines, already had a lovely deck that served as an extension of the living area. Large stacking doors can be opened up to appreciate the view of the estate’s green belts and dam. To maximise this view, the lawn was enlarged to lead your eye across the landscape and invite you to explore the various garden rooms.
Simple, clean lines were decided on for the flowerbeds, with mass plantings of the same species, such as wild garlic and large wild irises. The foliage in the garden is mainly green and grey, creating a sense of tranquillity, while pops of colour are provided by annual seedlings such as begonias, impatiens, petunias and verbenas.
“Although the garden was given formal structure, emphasis was placed on ornamental and useful plants that also stimulate the senses,” says Yvonne. Wild garlic, for example, besides having a strong scent, also helps to deter aphids and snakes.
The goal was always to blend the garden with its surroundings to ensure that the overall look would remain as natural as possible. Indigenous trees such as jacket plum help, as do gabions filled with stones obtained locally.
“In the end, the single lawn area created contrast with the flowerbeds and softened the hard landscaping elements,” says Yvonne.
I love the contrast between the stone, wood and flowers in this nook. – Henriëtte
A single Aloe marlothii nestles among the wild garlic (above). In the background, windmill palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) draw the eye up towards the steel girders and star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) covers the wall. White ‘Iceberg’ roses are framed by Freylinia tropica and Abelia ‘Francis Mason’.
Pathways and garden rooms that work
Low neatly-trimmed hedges have been used to demarcate various garden rooms, creating a seamless flow between each space. Interesting paths connect all these areas in the garden – one such path leads you through jasmine-bedecked arches, with several unexpected elements along the way.
“It’s not necessary for all your pathways to look the same, but they must complement each other,” says Yvonne. “In some areas, texture was added using groundcovers to break the monotony of the pavers and to soften them.”
The walkway to the boma consists of MoistureShield decking with small inset lights to show the way at night. “The fire pit is the most popular element in the new garden,” says Yvonne, who also designed this area. “It’s an attractive feature, it’s functional and it provides an extra entertainment area outdoors.” The surface consists of natural quartzite stones softened by silver carpet (Dymondia margaretae), an indigenous silvery-grey groundcover with yellow flowers in summer. “This plant works really well between stepping stones,” says Yvonne.
Yvonne had to work around the existing 10 000L water tank that stores water for the house and for irrigation. “I decided to paint the corrugated-iron dark grey to complement the steel girders, ensuring that it forms part of the garden design while also creating a focal point.”
Contemporary steel girders that were already part of the home’s design may not be everyone’s idea of a focal point in a garden, but here they have been cleverly incorporated into the landscaping.
To complement the steel girders, Yvonne designed various steel panels that were used as focal points against the home’s exterior walls as well as next to the big water feature.
“The latter immediately catches your attention and the water adds sound and movement,” says Yvonne. “Scale was vital here because it’s such a huge space. I also wanted to make sure that the sound of the water would not get lost. Bigger was definitely better.”
Steel panels were also added behind a smaller water feature near the front door. “They also have strip lights that create lovely patterns against the double-volume columns at night,” says Yvonne.
The project took six months to complete – in October 2018 the garden will be a mere 18 months old.
The De Beers are clearly impressed with the end result. “I love coming home after a hard day’s work and sipping a cocktail on my patio, enjoying my lovely garden and the breathtaking view beyond,” says Henriëtte. “The peace and quiet and the sound of the water relaxes me immediately.
“And I so appreciate the many different bird species that we now have in abundance.” “These focal points come to life at night when the LED strip lights behind the steel panels highlight the patterns,” says Yvonne.
• Take the scale and style of your home into consideration when designing and laying out the garden.
• Keep beds simple and don’t try to squeeze in too many different types of plants. Rather use contrasting colours here and there as a surprise element.
• Keep the location of doors and windows in mind when you create focal points, pathways and flowerbeds so you can see a beautiful view of the garden from every room.
• Select waterwise plants that are easily transplanted or can grow from cuttings, and group plants with similar water requirements together.
• Good soil preparation is essential and try to work in compost at least twice a year.
• Choose stalwart plants that add impact and provide colour all year round – even if it’s only foliage colour.
Top 5 plants
• Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
• White ‘Iceberg’ roses
• Wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)
• Large wild iris (Dietes grandiflora)
• Rock rose (Echeveria elegans)
Trees in the garden
• Jacket plum (Pappea capensis)
• Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
• Poplar (Populus simonii ‘Fastigiata’)
• Pride of India (Lagerstroemia indica)
Top 5 hedge plants
• Viburnum sinensis
• Blue honeybell (Freylinia tropica)
• Abelia X grandiflora ‘Francis Mason’
• Buxus microphylla ‘Faulkner’
• Sagewood (Buddleja salviifolia)
STOCKISTS AND CONTACT Jardinier Landscape Design & Décor 083 400 8661 MoistureShield 084 901 7772, moistureshield.co.za Tru Outdoor Luxury 031 579 1467
Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ adds a pop of lilac among the Dicksonia antarctica tree ferns.
In summer, lobelias and begonias are grown between the Cape thatching reed (Elegia tectorum).
Neatly trimmed Buxus ‘Faulkner’Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’, begonias and petunias provide colour and texture beneath three Syzygium paniculatum.
Garden furniture and outdoor rug from Tru Outdoor Luxury; cushions from Jardinier Landscape Design & Décor