Entering Littlewood Garden through the well maintained entrance one has no idea what lies beyond the gate. Denise and I were warmly greeted by Martina and Philip Hölzl, proud owners of this amazing establishment. This enterprising German couple developed the 4500sq meter plot over the last 17 years. Their passion for gardening and love of South Africa bears testament to what they have achieved: with very little help they have landscaped what was once a neglected piece of ground, and developed a successful guesthouse. They maintain the extensive gardens without help and still have time and smiles for their guests.
The garden has been divided in four distinct zones: The tropical zone features lush vegetation around the pool and entertainment areas. Queen palms, (Syagrus romanzoffiana), Cycas revoluta, Cycas thouarsii, and large specimens of Yucca elephantipes and Beaucarnea recurvata give structure and prominence to the hard landscaping of the pool.
In the Fynbos zone numerous Protea species thrive, while the ‘Arid’ zone is home to a variety of succulents and aloes: prominence is given to the Quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma). This aloe is endemic to the Richtersveld where the climate is hot and dry and the soil stony. In order for it to thrive in the moist Knysna climate Philip planted it where the afternoon sun bakes against the hill side and where there is protection from any salt laden winds. The planting hole was filled with stones to enable good drainage, and good soil was added to give this unusual aloe a new home.
In the beautiful Woodland zone you will find over 50 different indigenous trees, tree ferns and lush ground covers; Cyathea australis and Cyathea dealbata, (the silver fern from New Zealand) grow happily in the shade bordering the natural stream that meanders through the wooded area. The natural surrounding supports a wide variety of plans as well as an abundant bird-life.
A colony of Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bats (Epomophorus wahlbergi) come every year in spring to mate and raise their young in Littlewood Garden. They choose a tall palm tree as their home and sleep during the day. After sunset they get ready to take off and search for food. The Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bats are frugivorous, their diet consisting mainly of figs, guava and various fruits of Diospyros sp.
Secluded sitting areas have been created to give guests privacy and the opportunity to observe birds and butterflies that frequent the garden. In the evening the ‘boma’ with its charming fire pit is the gathering place for guests to experience a true South African ‘braai’ under the starry African sky.
We will be hosting our March meeting in this wonderful garden. Our guest speakers will be Martina and Philip. Please diarise 6th March at 10am.
For more info on Littlewood Garden log on to www.littlewoodgarden.com
Contributor: Esther Townsend