In spring, this small Jo’burg gar­den turns into a flower-filled fairy tale

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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.


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!”


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’.

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