When the chair­man of the Jo­han­nes­burg Gar­den Club col­lab­o­rates with one of South Africa’s lead­ing land­scap­ers, you know the re­sult will be spec­tac­u­lar

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A stun­ning spring gar­den in Jo’burg

Prue John­son and her hus­band Peter moved into their Craighall Park home just over 30 years ago and have been work­ing on their gar­den ever since. How­ever, it was only once Prue met gar­den­ing leg­end Anne Lorentz and joined the Jo­han­nes­burg Gar­den­ing Club that an in­ter­est in plants and gar­den­ing turned into a pas­sion.

Two years ago, Prue de­cided that it was time for a com­plete makeover. “There were a few fun­da­men­tal is­sues like the drainage that I wanted to fix as well as for­mal­is­ing some of the lines, cre­at­ing new beds and mak­ing space for a veg­etable gar­den,” ex­plains Prue. “I’ve known Shirley Walling­ton, a fel­low mem­ber of the Jo­han­nes­burg Gar­den Club, for many years and thought that it would be pru­dent to make use of her su­perb knowl­edge of gar­den de­sign.” Shirley adds: “We also share a sim­i­lar taste in plants so that re­ally helped.”

Shirley started off by in­tro­duc­ing for­mal lines. “I ter­raced

the slop­ing area and then moved all the bricks around the swim­ming pool, squar­ing it off and mak­ing the curb nar­rower. This made it much eas­ier on the eye and mow­ing sim­pler,” she ex­plains. She then had to move quite a few of the topi­ary balls to fit into the new de­sign. This was done in late win­ter to ease the shock on the ev­er­greens. Where new top­i­aries were needed, Prue used teu­crium. “It works well for top­i­aries and is quick grow­ing,” she ex­plains.

The old wa­ter tower in the back cor­ner was in­cor­po­rated into the de­sign. “It used to be part of the wa­ter sup­ply years ago. We took down the gal­vanised iron tank, but liked the struc­ture so kept that,” says Prue. In front of the tower be­hind the topi­ary balls, she planted ‘Anne Lorentz’ roses. “Not only are they nice and tall with beau­ti­ful blooms, they’re a trib­ute to a very dear friend,” says Prue.

“As Gar­den Club mem­bers, we are of­ten ex­posed to un­usual plants and Prue used this to her ad­van­tage,” says Shirley. “Like the Ju­das tree you man­aged to get your hands on,” pipes in Peter.

When it comes to colour, Prue has very def­i­nite pref­er­ences. “I like a white gar­den, but it has to be white, pink and blue. Def­i­nitely no yel­low and red,” she says. “Shirley en­cour­aged us to have at least one bed for seedlings to bring in some sea­sonal colour. Peo­ple tend to steer away from an­nu­als th­ese days be­cause of the cost and amount of main­te­nance they THIS SPREAD, CLOCK­WISE FROM FAR LEFT: In spring, Clematis mon­tana clam­bers over the old wa­ter tower. In sum­mer, it’s re­placed by ‘Blos­som Magic’ roses. The slope was ter­raced and the brick paving around the pool squared off. On the left is an Acer pal­ma­tum. Arum lilies thrive un­der a large eu­ge­nia.

White Iris wat­tii and blue bearded irises stand out against privet topi­ary balls. Pur­ple torch ( Eu­pa­to­rium sor­didum).

need, but ev­ery gar­den should have a lit­tle show­case,” she con­tin­ues. With this in mind, white fox­gloves were planted near the back of the beds as they had the height and in front there’s a glorious show of Prim­ula ob­con­ica.

The ter­rac­ing ad­dressed the drainage is­sues, but not com­pletely. “We seemed to spend our lives dig­ging agri­cul­tural drains, but for­tu­nately that seems to be a thing of the past. Of course it helps that we make all our own com­post and are con­stantly adding it to the beds.” To give the plants the best pos­si­ble start, all the beds were trenched. THIS PAGE, CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: The All Sea­sons grass in the shade of the sil­ver birches is left to grow longer than the kikuyu. The steps are soft­ened with erigeron planted against the ris­ers. The ter­races are filled with blue Prim­ula ob­con­ica and white aza­leas clipped into a hedge. Fox­gloves were in­tro­duced to give height and pro­vide a con­trast to the teu­crium balls.

Prue has been a mem­ber of the Jo­han­nes­burg Gar­den Club for al­most 18 years, and chair­man for the past 12. “Thanks to the gar­den club, my gar­den and plant knowl­edge have evolved to a great ex­tent. Mem­bers like Jenny An­der­son and Shirley are very free with their ad­vice at meet­ings,” says Prue. “It’s so nice to have gar­den­ing friends, be­cause they re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate your ef­forts.”

THIS PAGE, FROM TOP TO BOT­TOM: Be­hind the conifers and tree fern are white Camelia japon­i­cas and a white flow­er­ing privet. A white Aza­lea Alba marks the en­trance to the veg­etable gar­den.

SOURCE Shirley Walling­ton walling­

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