This gra­cious Jo’burg prop­erty got a new lease on life when the own­ers gave it a colour­ful makeover

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An old Jo’burg gar­den gets a colour­ful makeover


When the present own­ers of this gra­cious old prop­erty first moved in, the gar­den was rather bare and some­what ne­glected. As the prop­erty they had just sold was go­ing to be f lat­tened for a new of­fice block, they were able to bring loads of plants from their old gar­den to give it the es­tab­lished look they wanted.

The wife, an avid gar­dener, or­gan­ised ex­tra help to pre­pare beds for the THIS SPREAD, CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: With its colour­ful an­nu­als such as Na­maqua­land daisies, lark­spurs and linaria, the meadow gar­den, which re­placed the swim­ming pool, is a bee and but­ter­fly haven. On the top ter­race, the bed edg­ing the re­tain­ing wall is brim­ming with a cheer­ful mix of pelargo­ni­ums, mimu­lus, daisies and linaria. The steps to the front door are lined with ter­ra­cotta pots over­flow­ing with pelargo­ni­ums and pan­sies.

new ar­rivals, which in­cluded her prize hy­drangeas grown from slips given to her by her mother. “For­tu­nately, they all sur­vived,” she re­calls.

Although she had an ini­tial plan for the gar­den, she ad­mits that she aban­doned it and went by in­stinct, putting plants where she thought they should go. “It all worked out well in the end,” she says.

A num­ber of trees were re­moved and re­placed with Ja­panese maples and mag­no­lias. The lower level was dug out to cre­ate a shade gar­den. “We dis­cov­ered build­ing rub­ble un­der the soil, which proved to be a chal­lenge,” she re­calls. But, once sorted, this area is now home to shade-lovers like clivias and arums.

The meadow gar­den came about when they dis­cov­ered that the swim­ming pool was cracked. “As it was go­ing to be ex­tremely costly to re­pair, we de­cided to fill it in.” The con­crete f loor was re­moved to fa­cil­i­tate drainage, but the walls and the cop­ing re­main. The pool was filled with new en­riched soil and the wife started plant­ing and sow­ing ear­lier this year. She in­cluded linaria, wallf low­ers, spring bulbs such as daf­fodils, ra­nun­cu­lus, Dutch irises and anemones, and sowed lots of Na­maqua­land daisies. She even in­cluded a cou­ple of roses.

THIS PAGE, CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: The se­cluded shade gar­den on the lower level fea­tures clivias and arums, a sand­stone foun­tain and a bench.

The Ice­land pop­pies, wall­flow­ers and Na­maqua­land daisies were all grown from seed. Sam the golden re­triever play­ing on the lawn.

“I love seeds and sow f low­ers, herbs and veg­eta­bles all over. It is much cheaper than seedlings and more fun too!” she says. As a re­sult, self-seed­ers such as nas­tur­tium, aqui­le­gia and pink prim­rose come up year af­ter year.

The veg­gie gar­den si­t­u­ated at the back of the house, pro­vides or­gan­i­cally grown broad beans, peas, rocket, cherry toma­toes, let­tuces, basil, dill and co­rian­der, also grown from seed. No pes­ti­cides are used, only or­ganic sprays which en­cour­ages in­sects and in turn at­tracts many dif­fer­ent kinds of birds.

“For­tu­nately, we have a bore­hole, but I also mulch reg­u­larly to re­tain mois­ture and con­serve wa­ter,” she says. Her ad­vice to new gar­den­ers is to get the soil right first, then the ir­ri­gation and only then start think­ing of plant­ing. “It saves a lot of time, money and ef­fort in the long run,” she says.

THIS PAGE, CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: A mixed bor­der hugs the path­way lead­ing from the steps to the up­per level. A bas­ket con­tain­ing a cas­cad­ing ivy-leafed pelargo­nium screens a down­pipe. This wind­ing path­way leads past the shaded hy­drangea patch to a se­cret flower gar­den next to the house.

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