Hilary’s vision for her new garden post fire.


Contributor: Hilary Haarhoff.

We are one of the fortunate ones who have a home; also an opportunity to rehabilitate our garden, but the only thing is that time is not really on our side!

The main objective is to recreate the privacy and informal feeling we had prior to the fire. The very high creepers in amongst the trees on the left of our property have all gone; now we can see houses and vacant spaces that we never knew were there which also means we have to close curtains, blinds in our bedroom, bathroom and dressing room!!

There was also a large hedge of Tecomaria capensis, brambles along the back of the property completely blocking out our neighbours back yard so we have put up a vibrocrete wall which will be painted a dark green. We will plant azaleas, and hydranges, a creeper that will thrive in shade as it is South facing – any suggestions what else we should plant will be very welcome.

Area to be rehabilitated

As we did not have any fences on the left of our property only the natural growth we now need a certain amount of security so we are erecting a wire fence. Once that is completed we can go ahead with planting fast growing trees, shrubs and creepers. We also intend planting indigenous trees for the future. The lower part of our property was not landscaped – it consisted of lots of thick undergrowth of ferns and a mixture of trees even an odd oak tree. A lot of this was burnt so has it has been opened up making it easier for us to build pathways and plant clivia, and shade loving plants. Some time ago my husband had told one of the children he envisaged making himself a ‘man cave’ down there – it may yet happen now that it is more accessible. He is someone who needs a project — – earlier this year he built a rather large pond – something which he has thought about for quite a long time – it was completed at the end of March but because of hardly any rain it was quarter full so the lining had several burn holes which he patched, after the really good rains recently it filled to almost ¾ but on measuring the level there is a leak somewhere which has to be found, but that is not on top of list as he has really big project of redesigning our garage, and  flatlet which burnt down.


Remains of garages and flatlet

As we are down a panhandle we had 4 houses surrounding us, all of which have been burnt down. It is such a sadness losing our neighbours, we are hoping they will consider returning. One of our neighbours has planted a Natal Mahogany on our boundary, she has called it a tree of hope which I feel symbolizes the importance of an optimistic approach to what lies ahead. That is approach we have to take. Nature in this case has pruned and cut back,  though it is painful it can strengthen not only our gardens but us as a community.

Now that the pruning has been done we can plough ahead.