A GROWING PASSION A pretty Cape garden
When she couldn’t find suitable help, this gardener decided to tackle the garden on her own
When the husband retired, this couple moved to the Cape to be near their children. When they moved to this Constantia property, they looked for a suitable landscaper to help them establish a new garden and integrate it with what was already
there. But they felt the plant list from one landscaper was uninspired, while the other was so expensive they could have built a small cottage instead. The wife, on impulse, decided to go it alone, although her only previous gardening experience had been to carry out tasks given to her by a ‘gardening adviser’. “As I was guided by her and never felt that the garden was mine, I took very little interest in it. Now it was exciting to be able to plan the garden myself using a site plan,” she says.
She admits to making mistakes, but after a faltering start, with telephonic help from a landscaping friend from
the Midlands, and ad hoc advice from a landscaper, her confidence grew. Suddenly she found gardening exciting and started enjoying it.
The existing garden was rather tired and overgrown so the first task was to decide which trees to prune and which to remove to let in more light and open
up views of Table Mountain. Wellestablished trees were also brought in to screen neighbouring houses and soften the high walls. Creepers were trained up boundary fences where there was no space for trees.
To get the informal look she wanted, she laid out gently curving beds around the perimeter to link the older part of the garden and its established shrubbery with newer beds near the house.
Through her judicious plant selection, which includes white and blue agapanthus, Tulbaghia violacea (wild garlic) and white and pink gaura, and by enriching the soil with compost and adding water-absorbing crystals, she established a garden that’s water-wise.
To create a sense of mystery and depth, she included annuals like petunias, begonias and snapdragons as fillers while the more permanent plants such as hebes, pelargoniums, salvias and lavenders brought from her Jo’burg garden, grow under the large trees.
One tip she recalled from her old garden was never to plant just one of
anything, rather three or five to promote flow and harmony. In just 15 months since she and her gardener planted the first bed, her colour and plant themes weave their way through the garden creating a sense of continuity. These are complemented by bold and f loriferous f loribunda roses, which she says laughing, were selected not by choice but purely by availability, colour and how
prolific they would be.
Her favourite outdoor living area is the gravelled courtyard off the openplan kitchen-dining area where a water feature masks the sounds of traffic. Herbs and vegetables are grown in a raised bed within easy reach of the kitchen. This is the family’s preferred gathering spot in the shade of a tall liquid amber tree.
THIS SPREAD, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Statice, salvias and roses thrive on the north side of the tipuana tree. A container planted with a standard wild olive adds height to this bed filled with petunias and white verbena. The intriguing shape of a flowering artichoke stands out among the vegetables. Alfresco meals are enjoyed in the shade of a liquid amber tree against a lush backdrop of viburnums and a frame of bougainvillea. Luna the cat enjoys the shade under the wrought iron table.
THIS PAGE, FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: This bed under the existing tree receives some late afternoon sun so that heliotropes and salvias thrive among shade-lovers like fuchsias and foxgloves. Low plantings of verbena, gaura, wild garlic and lamb’s ears along the driveway.
THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Gaura and statice create a splash of colour. The blues of heliotrope and ‘Mystic Spires’ salvia weave through the pinks of roses, verbena and gaura. The sound of water in the courtyard off the dining room muffles extraneous noise. A gap was left to so that lamb’s ears could be planted against the water feature. Shasta daisies make a stunning display in summer.