Reader gar­den

A cel­e­bra­tion of roses and hy­drangeas

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

Few plants bloom as pro­fusely over the fes­tive sea­son as hy­drangeas,

and this spa­cious gar­den in Jo­han­nes­burg boasts an abun­dance of these shade-lov­ing plants. To­gether with a wide va­ri­ety of roses – Adele’s other great love – the hy­drangeas cre­ate a spec­ta­cle of colour in her gar­den in the height of sum­mer.

“I’m so lucky to have plenty of space in my gar­den – in sun and shade,” says Adele.

How­ever, nei­ther the roses nor the hy­drangeas fea­tured in the gar­den when the Van Stadens bought the prop­erty 11 years ago. “When we moved here it mainly con­sisted of large trees, shrubs and aga­pan­thus. The house was orig­i­nally built in 1893 and the two beau­ti­ful jacaran­das, an Aus­tralian frangi­pani (Hy­menospo­rum flavum) and two Robinia pseu­doa­ca­cia ‘Frisia’ trees are thought to have been here from the very be­gin­ning.

“We started off by di­vid­ing part of the prop­erty into plots and sell­ing those and then I de­vel­oped the beds in the re­main­ing sec­tion from scratch,” re­calls Adele.

“Tracey Good­win, a land­scaper who’s since re­tired, helped me with the ini­tial lay­out of the gar­den. She planted my first roses – the ‘Ice­bergs’ next to the ten­nis court – as well as more aga­pan­thus and some helle­bores; the lat­ter are a high­light of my win­ter gar­den. Many of the Abe­lias, which have such lovely fo­liage in dif­fer­ent shades of green, are also thanks to her.”

From 2010, Adele and her right-hand man Satiyere Gondwe got stuck into the gar­den them­selves. Adele drew rough plans and Satiyere laid out the new beds with rope to give them an idea of what they would look like. Then Adele de­cided on the colour schemes and plant se­lec­tion for each bed. >>

My gar­den is a balm for my soul. It makes me feel hu­man again. – Adele

Trimmed hedges and shrubs

Adele uses top­i­aries to cre­ate fo­cal points in the gar­den and neatly clipped hedges to clearly de­mar­cate and frame the beds. While she plants favourites such as roses, salvias, del­phini­ums and irises to give beds a more in­for­mal look, the clipped hedges give the gar­den a more struc­tured, neater ap­pear­ance.

“Many of my hedges and top­i­aries come from ex­ist­ing plants that have mul­ti­plied on their own or ger­mi­nated from seed dis­persed by birds. Even­tu­ally, so many Aus­tralian brush-cherry (Syzy­gium pan­ic­u­la­tum) plants came up that I gave up pulling them out and de­cided to rather do some­thing with them. I trans­planted some to form a tall hedge and trained oth­ers into top­i­aries. These shrubs grow quickly and don’t need much wa­ter.”

Adele also used a hedge to di­vide one of her bor­ders: the rear sec­tion is shady and the front area gets more sun. The hedge al­lows her to grow dif­fer­ent plants in both parts of the bed – roses in the sun and hy­drangeas in the shade – without it look­ing mud­dled.

“Hedges and top­i­aries ini­tially need a lot of at­ten­tion and should be pruned ev­ery two months,” she ex­plains. “But once they’re es­tab­lished, they need less main­te­nance. We only prune the es­tab­lished hedges and top­i­aries ev­ery three months and never be­tween April and Au­gust. In other words, only three times a year. In win­ter, the top of the plants some­times get dam­aged by heavy frost. At the end of Au­gust, once the dan­ger of frost is over, we trim off those dam­aged parts and the plants look as good as new.” >>

WHO LIVES HERE? The Van Staden fam­ily WHERE Mel­rose, Jo­han­nes­burg SIZE OF GAR­DEN 8 500m² TYPE OF SOIL Clay

Adele says her gar­den is an ex­ten­sion of her home. “My fam­ily loves spend­ing time to­gether out­side.” Some of the hedge plants, es­pe­cially the Aus­tralian brush-cherry, have mul­ti­plied all over the gar­den, while oth­ers were trans­planted to where they were needed, like these two that will soon form an arch over the path­way. Neatly-trimmed hedge plants such as Abe­lia x gran­di­flora frame the colour­ful rose beds.

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