A celebration of roses and hydrangeas
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.