Barry and Joan Giggins bought a piece of land on what was then a corner of the Duthie farm chicken coop in 1988. A year later they built a holiday cottage which was used on their frequent visits to Knysna for the next 9 years. They decided to retire in 1997 and their architect suggested that it would not only be cheaper but more effective to demolish and start again. Much against Barry’s better judgement, and against all financial sense, he agreed. Joan threatened all manner of evil if she could not keep her garden and trees. They moved in late 1998 to find that many plants had been dug up and, no doubt, had found new homes elsewhere!
Having to deal with the extremely sandy soil where water just ran off without penetrating, several hundred bags of compost were brought in to enrich and give substance to the soil. It also raised the level of the garden, giving a top layer that is fertile and retains moisture.
Over time they have replanted with mostly indigenous plants. The clivias in the shady areas were planted into yellow, red and apricot groupings giving a wonderful annual show of colour in spring. Joan takes great pride in her magnificent clivias and they are also her favourite plants.
The design of the garden is modern with strong lines; hard landscaping in the form of paving anchors the plantings of shrubs and trees. A small circular lawn echoing the circular paving to the side of the pool softens the geometric lines of the pool and paving. The eye catching modern water feature which is a focal point under the age-old Essenhout tree attracts a host of birds in search of water, not forgetting the bird table which is frequented by Orioles, and the occasional Loerie. Cymbidiums and Dendrobium orchids in pots have been placed amongst the green foliage to give interest and colour under the trees. As an artist, Joan has a keen eye for composition, scale and balance, resulting in a garden that ‘sits’ well in its allotted space.
Joan’s gardening tip: “don’t plant from January to March in Knysna – plants just won’t grow!”