Steve and Barbara Gettliffe moved from their farm near Barkly East to Paradise some 10 years ago. In the farm garden Barbara had Heleborus, Blue bells, Solomon Seal and all those wonderful plants reminiscent of an English garden. They all thrived in the very cold climate of the Eastern Cape. She also had access to an abundance of manure, compost and water. Moving to Knysna proved a challenge: poor soil, wind, water restrictions, and unfamiliar plants.
It did not take long to establish this ‘farmstyle’ garden, brimful with hardy perennials and old fashioned roses. The backbone of the garden was established, with shrubs and trees placed in such a way as not to obscure the magnificent lagoon views. The beds are wide and generous, framing the extensive lawns – which are Steve’s department. Moles are a problem, but Steve is an expert at catching them. The large Tipuana tipu, also known as Rosewood or Pride of Bolivia, growing on the verge outside the property, is another problem. Tipuana has been declared an alien invader, it is messy throughout the year and cast dense shade over the lawn in winter. Perhaps one day the Municipality will relent and remove it … Steve can but hope.
The repeat planting of Limonium vulgaris gives the garden a sense of cohesion, while pockets of Gazania, Bergenia, Centradenia and Clivia give interest and colour. Shrubs include Rhododendron, Brunsfelsia, Agave attenuata, Fuchsia, Tibouchina, and Hibiscus. There are some roses dotted between the perennials and some are in pots. Barbara loves old fashioned roses, many of which were brought from the farm, and a few new ones that have been acquired since.
In the shade of some coniferous trees are orchids: common ones like Cymbidium sp. thrive in this environment, rewarding Barbara with a multitude of spikes every year. Dendrobiums in baskets are the stars of the show in early Spring, their beauty is breathtaking.
There is not a seedling in sight: all colour is achieved by hardy perennials and shrubs. The garden is waterwise and is proof that one can have a lovely garden despite a lack of regular watering … one just has to be ‘wise’ to choose the right plants!
Contributor: Esther Townsend
Photographs: Esther Townsend