“Highlands”, Marion and Don Forsyth’s garden in Belvidere.
When Marion and Don moved to their house in Belvidere 13 years ago they inherited a garden that was overgrown, untidy and generally neglected. They started in earnest by removing alien trees, large shrubs and undergrowth in the treed area below the house. Pathways were created to link the various ‘rooms’ of the garden, and small formal gardens were constructed to give the garden a timeless and romantic atmosphere. The property is on a steep slope which makes gardening difficult. The soil is also very sandy, and to compound the problems the garden is at the mercy of wildlife that frequents the hill behind them. Over the years Marion has learnt which plants have no appeal to the porcupines, buck and tortoises. Favourite plants like arums are planted in pots which makes it difficult for the porcupines to ‘browse’ , and salad greens are planted out of reach of the tortoises on the lower level of the steep terrace.
The beautiful courtyard that leads off the entrance and kitchen is formal and is backed by steep terraces. Well clipped topiaries flank the formal water feature and the soft sound of cascading water creates a wonderful restful ambiance in this secluded area. The colour scheme is restricted to yellow, white and blue which complements the soft furnishing of the outdoor furniture.
The ‘forested’ area below the pool deck is a tranquil shaded garden with a pathway that links up to a formal garden near the driveway. Here a spherical sundial is the centre piece, backed by an arch that frames the pathway. The plant choice on the other side of the driveway is an informal mix of exotic and indigenous plants.
Marion’s artistic talents are not restricted to gardening as she is an accomplished potter and ceramic artist. All her works have a distinct botanical flavour, and one can only imagine that her inspiration comes from her lovely garden.
Text and photographs by Esther Townsend