A garden of contrasts

A garden of contrasts

Pippa Jarman  and  Debbie Butler share a home and garden on Leisure Isle, facing the lagoon and Heads.  Having lived in the UK and Kenya, they have now settled in Knysna, where they have created their forever home and garden. When they bought the  property the house was run down and the garden was overgrown, dark and dank.  Many trees and old shrubs were removed to bring  in light,  but trees on the perimeter of the property were retained and pruned  to provide privacy needed for the outdoor living area.  The unsightly concrete walling has had a  face lift with innovative use of ‘latte’, and the generous decking that wraps around the house provides ample space for entertainment and sunbathing by the pool. The original house has been redesigned to be light and bright,  and  incorporates all sorts of indulgences to suit their lifestyles;  above the new garage is a floodlit ‘putting green’ where these two ladies practice their putting skills, normally after a few G&Ts! The dominant use of red and black provides drama and excitement.  Black pots are adorned with red roses, red Begonia ‘Angle wings’ in the company of red Inca lilies flourish under the trees  and on the deck black loungers sport the odd red cushion.       These two ladies created this amazing space full of life and vitality. It’s very seldom that a garden truly  reflects the personality of the owners.  Yet here, in this property, the two strong personalities are personified in two very different styles of gardening.  The vibrancy of colour, impulsive groupings of plants and love of quirky elements is a true reflection of Debbie’s exuberance of life.  Pippa’s garden is more controlled, serene and measured.  But somehow these opposites work, complementing one another, resulting in a happy and uplifting space to live in and to enjoy.   Pippa                                                                               Debbie     Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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Perfection is Lally’s Garden.

Perfection is Lally’s Garden.

Contributor: Carol Kennedy. Photographs: Carol Kennedy. Some thirty years ago, Andre and Lally Viljoen built a house on Leisure Isle as an investment for rent.  Lally planted 3 vines over the pergola in the courtyard.  The house was let for ten years, and when retiring to the Island they were met with a garden consisting of eugenias and a scruffy lawn.  The tenant had planted a palm which encouraged rats to take up residence so that was the first tree to be removed.  A yellowwood found residence on the verge and has been left to grow to give shade for cars. From then on they used a landscaper to help with the rejuvenation but having suggested dwarf conifers, one of which was a leylandii, they found they had to  at great cost, remove some as they grew too large for a small garden.  As Lally comments, with no view from their house they turned the courtyard very successfully into their inner sanctum.  Two of the vines survived the tenant and these have flourished, adding cool shade in summer, stunning colour in autumn and letting the sun through in winter. They added a pond where dragonflies, a kingfisher, as well as a cormorant popped in to have a drink as well as to enjoy a snack of fish for supper.  This pond was too large, so a few years ago a lovely fountain was placed in a large round urn between pebbles and sleepers, interspersed with low plantings and some seasonal colour. Agapanthus, fuchsias, arum lilies, ferns, bergenias, Japanese anemones and other shade loving plants surround the courtyard, while tree ferns lend height and form.  As many know Lally is an accomplished cook and at the very back of the property where the kitchen is situated, the breakfast table looks onto a newly replaced fence made from latte, spilling over with a rose, shrubs and a bird feeder. The fence that was blown down was replaced by John Moll from Roots to Shoots, hiding a ‘plant hospital’ where Lally can revive her ailing plants as well as a compost maker which has an ingenious method of using swivels to operate the process, all raised to allow Lally to work at waist height. ‘Very good for us oldies’ was Lally’s comment on viewing this new addition. Lally’s aim is to simplify the garden in their ‘twilight years’.  She is trying to pare down on the work and this will be an ongoing process. The front border is a soft vision of roses, mixed with old time favourites of sweetpeas, delphiniums, poppies, inter planted with perennials to provide seasonal colour all year round. The path leading to the front door is graveled...

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Gert Sumner’s Garden

Gert Sumner’s Garden

Contributor: Carol Kennedy Photos: Carol Kennedy Gert’s garden, just like her personality, exudes bright colour and warmth.It spills over with a good mix of indigenous plantings and exotics and is full of leaves and flowers which she can use in her floral art. She is an extremely accomplished floral artist and when developing the garden she incorporated plants with this in mind. Gert and her late husband Mick, bought the house in 1989 as a holiday house and in 1993, when they retired to Knysna from Durban, altered the house to suit their needs.  Gert then tried to use as many indigenous plants as possible as the house faces the estuary which is South, with the cold winter wind to contend with. She has successfully achieved colour and texture with clumps of Limonium [sea lavender or statice], gazanias, the little ground cover geraniums, flax, mini agapanthus, polygala, fuschias, ferns, lavender, coreopsis, onothera [evening primrose], gaura, echervaria, hypericum [St John’s Wart], and then annuals such as begonias, mimulus, and scatterings of seeds such as Nigella, [Love in the mist] which now self sows. The view from the bay window looks out onto the heads and is shaded very cleverly in summer, by a tree which is pollarded every year so that it won’t get too big. Gert is very clever with pots and makes use of a  variety of plants to achieve this seasonal and on going colour. At her entrance patio there are 2 huge pots with magenta azalea bushes which have been given a topiary look and in one is a beautiful lime green fern which contrasts so well with the azalea. Sadly, since photographing these plants, the azaleas have died for no apparent reason. To enable Gert to recycle the dead branches she has sprayed the tree white, added lights and then used other floral art material which resemble ‘stars’ to decorate the tree.       The wonderful sunny garden at the back of the house is a place for Gert’s collection of pots. From succulents, epidendrums [poor mans orchids], heliotrope and other  seasonal annuals such as pansies, violas, lobelia, which tumble over the edges of various shaped and coloured pots. To me the highlight are the pots of Double Delight roses which produce beautiful blooms and are prolific as well. This rose is a favourite of Gert’s and what a well chosen rose as the name is so appropriate of how we all feel about the  gardener who lives here. A truly generous and caring soul, who shares her talents and garden with anyone and everyone. She never throws anything away, be it plant material  or anything that can be recycled. My Hospice garden  has benefited  from her generosity as have many others on the Island. A big curved border snakes around the back perimeter and here again plants and shrubs with smooth and varied textures...

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A visit to Sally and Herman Kapp’s beautiful property.

A visit to  Sally and Herman Kapp’s beautiful property.

Take a drive up into the hills above Knysna, follow a long and windy road until you can go no further and that is where you will find the beautiful home of Sally and Herman Kapp.  That is where we, Gardening at Leisure Club, spent a happy few hours last Friday. Sally’s home totally reflects its warm, generous and bountiful owners, Sally and Herman. As you enter the front door you feel it.  The proportions of the rooms are spacious, the furnishings are tasteful, the wall colours are peaceful  and the whole effect is soothing.  But, dare I say so, there are touches of creative flamboyance all over which stimulate the senses and take this home to another level! This is truly a home where everyone feels good and I am sure that Tayla and Jess, the Kapp daughters, have friends who also love coming to visit. The family have been living here in this Hilton McKenzie designed home for eight years and during that time they have developed the property themselves pushing back the boundaries, creating places for relaxation and enjoyment and loving  every moment. It was the garden, however, that we went to see and here too, one sensed order, creativity and structure. The sweeping drive leads you through an avenue of fever trees, past a beautiful mixed and colourful border and down to an area large enough for many visitors’ cars. Over a fence, where Molly and Emma, the labradors  play, an exquisite orange rose was in full flower and masses of purple sweet peas clambered up and over a trellis nearby. Sally loves indigenous plants but intersperses them with water-wise specials and some special English gems. The front of the garden is mostly dedicated to a magnificent rim-flow pool with views down the salt river and to the lagoon.  I overheard one of the club ladies waxing lyrical about skinny dipping there, and who can blame her! The Kapp home borders onto a kloof which has a river running through it and where old pine trees have been allowed to survive for the birdlife. Some have become too large and Herman has ring-barked two. He also plans to remove some large Black Woods as well which will give a feeling of more space and an increased area for developing the garden. This beautiful garden, a most interesting speaker telling us about medicinal trees and plants which grow all over South Africa made for a wonderful morning and we thank the Kapps for allowing us to spend time there. Contributor: Clare Miller Photos: Esther Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in...

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A floral artist’s garden.

A floral artist’s garden.

Contributor: Esther. Bridget Tisdall’s north-facing garden in Forest Garden Estate, Hunters Home reflects her persona;  controlled, perfectly groomed, stylish and refined.  The garden is small, yet Bridget has managed to pack so much  into the space;   interesting hard landscaping,  colourful spring flowering bulbs and shrubs, and containers brimming with unusual succulents, all perfectly arranged to show off colour, texture and form. A few years back the garden was changed from a more traditional English- type garden to a relaxed indigenous  one.  It is now a heaven for birds, butterflies and bees. Recently a variety of Ericas & Serurias were introduced;  there were a few casualties but those that survived  are thriving. Her Leucodendrons and Leucospermums get a regular trim and they are flourishing for it. Spring sees an abundance of Ixias, Freesias and Watsonias, softening the bed into a billowing cloud of colour. At the back of the garden down a narrow alleyway is her cut flower garden. The pockets in the Sholin wall have been utilised to create a living wall of unusual foliage plants that are regularly trimmed when material is needed for her floral arrangements. At the kitchen door is a tiny veggie patch with a variety of veggies and herbs  providing  Bridget’s kitchen with fresh produce. This water wise garden is inspirational and it proves that colour and  interest can be achieved in a small area. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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Joan’s love affair with flowers.

Joan’s love affair with flowers.

Joan has loved flowers all her life, helping her parents in their garden in Johannesburg from a tender age. She broke her arm slipping while planting pansies when she was 12 years old,  but that did not deter her. Her parents were keen gardeners, and she has fond memories of her mother having bowls of flowers all over the house and of Sundays being special days  because they would visit Joubert Park Conservatory and Rhodes Park to see and smell the wonderful array of flowers. When she got married, their first house had 3 greenhouses in the back garden and so they became orchid growers – mainly Cattleyas.  They were able to supply nearly 100 blooms to the florist over the first months of Eastgate opening. They  moved to a new house and garden  some years later where she had the challenge of setting out a garden as well as coping with the heavy winter frosts that the Highveld brings.  Her sweet peas were her pride and joy –  always over 2 metres high,  yielding armloads of flowers – what a delight with their subtle shades and heavenly perfume! With  flowers one gets involved with the arranging of them and this she did in various ways through flower clubs.   Over the years she has been very fortunate to have had special times in the flower world, some of which were working at Chelsea on the Kirstenbosch stand, doing flowers at Government House in Perth,  working with David Davidson and Ray Hudson in Singapore at an International flower show, visiting Hampton Court Flower show on opening day with Keith Kirsten (and seeing the launch of a  new pink delphinium and Leonardo rose),  being in Boston for the duration of the World Flower Arranging Show and visiting Keukenhof in Holland for their tulip festival. Whilst living in Singapore for 8 years it was impossible to garden in that heat. She was known as the “voluntary pruner of plants” at their condo because she was forever cutting for the flower club there!   The Orchid House at the Botanical Gardens was a treat and she joined the Orchid Society where she was very privileged to work at the World Show held in Singapore.  Orchids of every size, shape and variety were displayed and all in the open in the Gardens. In her words: “ An awe inspiring experience”.  She always marvelled too at the orchids that grew in abundance hanging out of trees on the highway from the airport and down Orchard Road! Back to Knysna and to Leisure Island in all its glory.  What a challenge growing plants in what used to be sand dunes!   They moved to “Corner House”...

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