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