Nine years ago Muff and Paul Norris moved from Belvidere Estate to Leisure Isle. Their old garden was fairly protected from the south easterly wind, the plot was large and sunny, and gardening was easy. Their new garden posed a tremendous challenge as the entrance area faces north with hot baking conditions year round. The other side faces the water’s edge, and the close proximity of the salt water makes for a difficult plant choice. To add to their problems cold salt- laden wind funnels through the Heads, which makes gardening all the more challenging.
They called in the services of Gretchen Celliers from Mpumalanga who designed the garden. Her plant choice was simple; lots of structural plants that look good year- round and require very little maintenance. The entrance court is framed by Olive trees under planted with Echevarias, to the right steps descend to the main garden. White pear (Apodytes dimidiata) and Candlewood (Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus) are thriving, but alas the Olives (Olea africana) are struggling and will be replaced. The immaculate lawn (Paspalum vaginatum) is being fed regularly with potassium nitrate. This lawn was chosen for its salt tolerance, and it thrives on regular irrigation from the spike and doesn’t mind the salty air. Aloe barbarae, under planted with Restios, Flax, Aloes and Cycads frames the lawn. The beautiful vistas of the Heads and the Lagoon have been framed by the imposing Aloes. Near the water’s edge river pebbles are used extensively as a ground cover.
Groupings of pots planted with an array of aloes and succulents provide interest and colour close to the house. Tucked away around a corner is Muff’s tiny veggie patch where she grows all sorts of herbs and very special tomatoes from imported seed. These special tomatoes are protected by netting as over- zealous birds love to feast on the exotic fruits! The curry tree in a pot (Murraya koenigii) is related to the well known Murraya exotica, favoured by many gardeners for its profusion of fragrant white flowers. The curry tree is a tropical to sub-tropical tree native to India and Sri Lanka. Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring countries. No wonder Muff makes such wonderful curries!
Text and Photos: Esther Townsend