In spring, this small Jo’burg garden turns into a flower-filled fairy tale
A small fairy tale garden in Jo’burg
There’s nothing more delightful after a frosty Jo’burg winter than a garden bursting with spring blossom. In this small urban garden, frothy f lowering peaches and cherries live happily with bearded and Louisiana irises, roses, primulas and foxgloves.
The pergola is smothered with fragrant wisteria and the viburnum snowball bush and magnolia also show off their striking spring blooms.
The handiwork of a businesswoman with a passion for f lower gardens, this 20-year-old garden is described by the owner as wild and romantic.
Her frequent visits to iconic gardens here and abroad have undoubtedly had an inf luence, and fortunately cold Highveld winters are ideal for growing her favourite plants, which include roses, f lowering fruit trees, camellias, azaleas and Magnolia soulangeana.
“Originally the garden consisted of a magnolia, a few irises and a tennis court,” she recalls. Her mother, who ran the Ikebana School of South Africa, helped her to plan the new garden. “We used the hosepipe to lay out the beds and started planting.” Now, the curving f lowerbeds contain a stunning mix of f lowering fruit trees. “My mother loved f lowering cherries and the weeping crab apple, and I have also added f lowering peaches,” she says.
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The woodland garden is planted with shade-loving plants such as camellias, azaleas and ferns. Those that prefer sun, which include irises and flowering fruit trees, are planted along the edge.
Magnolia soulangeana. To ensure they have the correct acid soil and don’t have to compete with tree roots, many of the azaleas are grown in huge pots.
Slow-growing camellias are grown in containers under the trees.
The lush lawn forms a grassy walkway through the garden and is left slightly longer than normal to minimise watering and to soften the overall effect.
Like all gardens, this one has had its share of challenges. With so many trees, too much shade is inevitable. But the owner has embraced it by including shade lovers like maidenhair ferns and hostas in the woodland section, which is also home to azaleas, camellias, deutzia and tree ferns.
Although the colour scheme is predominantly pink and white with touches of blue and purple, the owner does allow yellow in the form of daffodils. “I’m a Libra, we find it hard to make decisions,” she chuckles. “I had a little mishap years ago. I divided huge clumps of what I thought was agapanthus to plant on the edge of the woodland garden. Then I discovered they weren’t agapanthus, but clivias, which is why there’s also some orange.”
Feeding and fertilising is her secret to success. “Rather spend more on feeding than on plants.” In spring, she brings in a truck load of compost, and although blessed with a borehole, mulches all beds to conserve water. Another of her tips is to know when to give up on a plant. “If you’ve tried and failed on more than one occasion, as I did with begonias, rather focus on keeping other plants happy.”
Any plans for the garden? “Well, I’ve run out of space now,” she laughs, “but I still dream of growing peonies. Watch this space!”
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Pockets of colour are provided by perennials, trees and shrubs, which means only a few annuals have to be replaced each season. Wisteria.
Azaleas are one of the owner’s favourite plants. Flowering cherry Prunus serrulata ‘Shirofugen’.