Contributor: Carol Kennedy.
Photographs: Carol Kennedy.
Some thirty years ago, Andre and Lally Viljoen built a house on Leisure Isle as an investment for rent. Lally planted 3 vines over the pergola in the courtyard. The house was let for ten years, and when retiring to the Island they were met with a garden consisting of eugenias and a scruffy lawn. The tenant had planted a palm which encouraged rats to take up residence so that was the first tree to be removed. A yellowwood found residence on the verge and has been left to grow to give shade for car
From then on they used a landscaper to help with the rejuvenation but having suggested dwarf conifers, one of which was a leylandii, they found they had to at great cost, remove some as they grew too large for a small garden. As Lally comments, with no view from their house they turned the courtyard very successfully into their inner sanctum. Two of the vines survived the tenant and these have flourished, adding cool shade in summer, stunning colour in autumn and letting the sun through in winter.
They added a pond where dragonflies, a kingfisher, as well as a cormorant popped in to have a drink as well as to enjoy a snack of fish for supper. This pond was too large, so a few years ago a lovely fountain was placed in a large round urn between pebbles and sleepers, interspersed with low plantings and some seasonal colour.
Agapanthus, fuchsias, arum lilies, ferns, bergenias, Japanese anemones and other shade loving plants surround the courtyard, while tree ferns lend height and form. As many know Lally is an accomplished cook and at the very back of the property where the kitchen is situated, the breakfast table looks onto a newly replaced fence made from latte, spilling over with a rose, shrubs and a bird feeder.
The fence that was blown down was replaced by John Moll from Roots to Shoots, hiding a ‘plant hospital’ where Lally can revive her ailing plants as well as a compost maker which has an ingenious method of using swivels to operate the process, all raised to allow Lally to work at waist height. ‘Very good for us oldies’ was Lally’s comment on viewing this new addition. Lally’s aim is to simplify the garden in their ‘twilight years’. She is trying to pare down on the work and this will be an ongoing process.
The front border is a soft vision of roses, mixed with old time favourites of sweetpeas, delphiniums, poppies, inter planted with perennials to provide seasonal colour all year round. The path leading to the front door is graveled with a beautiful border to one side of campanula, Johnson’s blue geranium, heliotrope a Graham Thomas climbing rose and other perennials.
Three pots of Euphorbia diamond frost are placed at intervals behind an ivy cladded wall. These pots lend a formal touch and are easy to maintain. Lally’s garden now consists of plants that do well on the Island and they stood the test of time.
Her knowledge of plants or the naming of them is incredible and I think she has swallowed the ‘Latin Botanical Wahtch ma call it’ dictionary. But then, that’s Lally, a true perfectionist in every way. Her zest for life, her commitment to the community she serves through EPap, the compassion she has for fellow human beings and her great gardening and cooking skills are an inspiration to all us ‘oldies’. Carry on spading away Lally!