A garden of contrasts

Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Knysna Gardens | 1 comment

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.

Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Knysna Gardens | 0 comments

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 with a beautiful border to one side of campanula, Johnson’s blue geranium, heliotrope a Graham Thomas climbing rose and other perennials. Three pots of Euphorbia diamond frost are placed at intervals behind an ivy cladded wall.  These pots lend a formal touch and are easy to maintain.   Lally’s garden now consists of plants that do well on the Island and they stood the test of time. Her knowledge of plants or the naming of them is incredible and I think she has swallowed the ‘Latin Botanical Wahtch ma call it’ dictionary. But then, that’s Lally, a true perfectionist in every...

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Gert Sumner’s Garden

Posted by on December 21, 2015 in Knysna Gardens | 0 comments

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 and colours abound. The variegated cannas leaves both red and lime green, flax, spiraea, fuschias, alstomerias, cordylines, aspidistra, a Dais cotinifolia tree [Pom Pom] and a coprosma which has been trimmed to give it a bonsai shape and a splash of brightly coloured nasturtiums paint a background for the highlight, which in my mind is a beautiful fig tree. Not the huge Ficus Natalensis, which takes over and envelopes our small island gardens, but a fruit bearing tree which produces delicious figs which Gert once more shares with many friends, as well as the feathered variety. I was given a bowl of the fruit and it prompted me to...

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

Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Knysna Gardens | 0 comments

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 new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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A floral artist’s garden.

Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Knysna Gardens | 0 comments

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.

Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Knysna Gardens | 5 comments

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” about 6 years ago and the garden was completely different to what it is today.  The garden has changed over the years, more to an English country garden and Joan also started experimenting with different plants.  She   believes in buying plants when they are flowering so that you can see the colour, size, etc., of what it is. She recently dug up a huge New Zealand Christmas tree only to discover that she now had a wonderful sunny space for roses; now she can indulge in some very special David Austin roses which are so fragrant and exquisite.   “This...

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Littlewood Garden in Hunters Home

Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Knysna Gardens | 2 comments

Littlewood Garden in Hunters Home

Entering Littlewood Garden through the well maintained  entrance  one has no idea what lies beyond the gate. Denise and I were warmly greeted by Martina and Philip Hölzl, proud owners of this amazing establishment. This enterprising German couple developed the 4500sq meter plot over the last 17 years.  Their passion for gardening and love of South Africa bears testament to what they have achieved: with very little help they have landscaped what was once a neglected piece of ground, and developed a successful guesthouse. They maintain the extensive gardens without help and still have time and smiles for their guests. The garden has been divided in four distinct zones: The tropical zone features lush vegetation around the pool and entertainment areas.  Queen palms, (Syagrus romanzoffiana), Cycas revoluta, Cycas thouarsii, and large specimens of Yucca elephantipes and Beaucarnea recurvata give structure and prominence to the hard landscaping of the pool. In the Fynbos zone numerous Protea species thrive, while the ‘Arid’ zone is home to a variety of succulents and aloes: prominence is given to the Quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma). This aloe is endemic to the Richtersveld where the climate is hot and dry and the soil stony.  In order for it to thrive in the moist Knysna climate Philip planted it where the afternoon sun bakes against the hill side and where there is protection from any salt laden winds.  The planting hole was filled with stones to enable good drainage, and good soil was added to give this unusual aloe a new home. In the beautiful Woodland zone you will find over 50 different indigenous trees, tree ferns and lush ground covers; Cyathea australis and Cyathea dealbata, (the silver fern from New Zealand) grow happily in the shade bordering the natural stream that meanders through the wooded area.  The natural surrounding supports a wide variety of plans as well as an abundant bird-life. A colony of Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bats (Epomophorus wahlbergi)  come every year in spring to mate and raise their young in Littlewood Garden.  They choose a tall palm tree as their home and sleep during the day.  After sunset they get ready to take off and search for food.  The Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bats are frugivorous, their diet consisting mainly of figs, guava and various fruits of Diospyros sp. Secluded sitting areas have been created to give guests privacy and the opportunity to observe birds and butterflies that frequent the garden.  In the evening the ‘boma’ with its charming fire pit is the gathering place for guests to experience a true South African ‘braai’ under the starry African sky. We will be hosting our March meeting in this wonderful garden.  Our guest speakers will be Martina and Philip.  Please diarise 6th March at 10am. For more info on Littlewood Garden log on to www.littlewoodgarden.com Contributor: Esther Townsend 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 new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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Whale Cottage, Brian Robinson’s Garden.

Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Knysna Gardens | 2 comments

Whale Cottage, Brian Robinson’s Garden.

This charming small garden is unusual in that it has been developed by a man. Having executed alterations to the house while living in China, Brian arrived in 2005 to live permanently on Leisure Island.  The name Whale Cottage came to him while standing at Dolphin Point near Wilderness on a trip to George.  Having observed some ‘rocks’ which turned out to be whales, in which Brian is very interested, the  name of his home was settled.. When Brian started gardening he could sit in his front sunroom and observe everyone passing by and of course, they him.  A huge Coral tree dominated the front area and dealing with a very shaded garden, he was encouraged to cut the tree down.  By planting other larger shrubs, his house is now private.  The garden is full of warm colours and by using plants and shrubs, in scale with the garden parameters, noting now dominated. Colours play a big part in his choice of plant material and this is evident in the front ‘sunshine’ coloured border. Warm yellows, oranges, a touch of red with velvet nasturtiums predominate, while splashes of white show through with blue also used to change the hues. Alstroemerias, shrimp plants, yellow lantana, hibiscus, white baby chrysanths, salvia, grey cineraria, yellow pansies, white nicotiana and shasta daisies and the indigenous yellow Euryops bushes, all vie for attention. In this border Brian has 2 beautiful roses in pots (Amber Queen and Tempi Moderni) and these do exceptionally well. The roses are fed by his friendly neighbour, Pam, who also encouraged Brian to extend his garden boundaries. Their shared lane is a joy to walk past with the riot of colour on one side and the serene cool white bedding begonias as well as cane begonias interspersed with campanulas, on Brian’s side. True neighbourliness! An interesting path way with round paving stones and pebbles leads one to a secluded shady patio off the dining room and extends the eating area for a summer feast. The stunning indigenous tree which was there when Brian arrived, gives beautiful shade and the gentle wind chimes hint of an occasion to relax with a book or to chill out with a glass of something cool. Having worked in the East for 12 years, Brian has definitely been influenced with his choice of statuary in the garden. Two buddhas, one small smiley chubby fellow with equally chubby toes, resides as a focal point low down in a corner. The other larger figure is the focal point viewed from inside the sitting room and is against a wall with a nandina, arums and white begonias to surround him in on his plinth.  Brian’s interest in fuchsias has recently been piqued and he is now on a mission to plant more. He constantly feeds the garden using organic compost, compost tea and bone meal when planting. Seagro is also used. Having been open to advice from gardening friends Brian has developed a lovely touch and the textures in leaves, shapes and colours he is now using, bear testimony to his interest and knowledge in the wonderful world of gardening. Contributor: Carol Kennedy Photographs: Carol Kennedy 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...

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Croft Cottage, home of Heather Busby.

Posted by on November 6, 2014 in Knysna Gardens | 7 comments

Croft Cottage, home of Heather Busby.

Croft Cottage could be equally at home in an English village: the setting is at the end of a cul-de-sac, with pretty gardens surrounding it.  This charming thatch cottage is framed by a profusion of roses: roses up arches, roses in flower beds and magnificient floribunda roses spilling over old wine barrels. The extensive lawn is manicured, sloping down the property to the street below.  Flower beds are filled with hardy perennials such as alstroemerias, shasta daisies, statice, day lilies and verbascum, with the odd annual filling an empty space. The little courtyard between the garage and home is beautifully dressed with trellis up the walls and yet more roses cascading down the woodwork. In the long bed next to the driveway Peach Sunsation roses ‘grew by themselves’ from cuttings that were deposited into the compost heap. It  just shows how easily one can take cuttings and propagate plants oneself. Heather attributes her success with roses to a rigid feeding program of Vigor Rosa and Sudden Impact .  She also swears by giving the bushes a generous amount of compost, bone meal and rabbit pellets. Spraying is kept to the absolute minimum: she only uses fungicide and no insecticides are used as she is very aware of the food chain in her garden.  The little white-eyes devour the aphids,  so do the ladybirds and spiders who in turn attract the carnivorous birds. But here are two sides to this garden – for which I was totally unprepared.  The ‘Englishness’ of the front garden is left behind as soon as one enters the back garden.  The wildness of the fynbos is allowed to creep down the Pezula hill to create this natural eden for birds.  The happy song of the Cape weavers, the chirping of White eyes and Sun birds greeted me as I entered this area. I was also treated to the presence of Cape Sugar birds drinking from the feeder.  The area is filled with nectar and pollen-rich plants; there are proteas, ericas, wild pomogrante, aloe and ochna, and the fruit table attracts the fruit eaters like orioles, loeries, mouse birds, and bulbuls. This lovely area can be observed through the kitchen window:  no wonder  it is Heather’s favourite place in the house. Depending on the activity of her feathered friends, dinner is not always on time! Text and Photos: Esther Townsend 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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Magic garden on a very small scale.

Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Knysna Gardens | 1 comment

Magic garden on a very small scale.

I’ve been driving past this little garden for a number of years, always admiring the ‘curb appeal’ that it has, but  little did I know what lies behind the verge garden. Denise introduced me to the owners, Magda and Sybrandt du Preez, who used to farm in the Ermelo district, Mpumalanga. They retired to Knysna a number of years ago, first living in Brenton and then relocating to Hunters Village. Magda is a plant fanatic, a floral artist, and a collector of  unusual plants. She loves cultivating plants from cuttings and  dabbles in painting watercolours,  also not forgetting being a provincial bowler! During their farming days she had a beautiful garden, perfectly designed to cope with the very cold winters.  She had plenty of water to  use and living on the farm had access to compost, manure and labour. On moving to Knysna she had to re-invent her gardening skills by using plants that are suited to different climatic conditions. During the many years I’ve been judging gardens or sourcing beautiful gardens for open garden events, have I seldom come across such an inspirational and delightful little garden. The garden space is minute, as the house takes up most of the small plot.  Living in a retirement village Magda wanted to create a space where they could have some privacy. The house was designed in such a way that the living areas look out on a small courtyard, and in this courtyard a wonderland of tropical splendour unfolds. One is first greeted by the subtle fragrance of the many orchids that adorn the space, then you become aware of the unusual plant material and ‘props’ that were used, all coming together to create this artistic tableau. There are bromeliads, perennial begonias, anthuriums, ferns, all growing together in perfect harmony.     Every centimetre of the plot is cultivated: Magda even gardens on her neighbours border (with her consent, of course). The alleyway between the two properties is filled with shade  loving plants, leading to the back of the property where vegetables grow in troughs. The verge planting comprises a splendid collection of succulents. Magda replants this area every six years, changing the combinations to allow for the background plants growing bigger each year. She is also a bonsai enthusiast, two thirty year old Acacia specimens taking proud position near the entrance.  A treasured Syzygium paniculatum bonsai has been ‘released’ from the confines of its container and now grows happily near the driveway where it forms a perfect focal point. A truly remarkable little garden, well done Magda. Contributor: Esther Townsend Photographs: Esther Townsend 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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