Shelley and Peter Godsell’s Garden

SG2Shelley’s love of gardening was engendered, like many of  us fellow gardeners, by her mother. When Peter and Shelley moved to Knysna in 1995 she brought her mothers cymbidiums which are still thriving in her back garden. The garden which is on a double stand on Leisure Isle had ‘good bones’ with some established trees. A delightful cottage was added,  bigger windows and a deck allow an amazing view out onto the garden, the estuary and ‘blue’ mountains in the distance. She attributes, Rosemary Killian, who had a nursery in Gauteng and visited Shelley, with advice of laying out the perimeter border using a hosepipe and mealiemeal to define edges and plantings. A birdbath which has its origin from the Godsell’s very first garden has pride of place for our feathered friend to splash in.

Shelley’s warm personality is reflected in the generous abundance of plant material. As a rose lover the wonderful array of very healthy varietites which are grouped in colours lead one up to the front patio. Gnome World, Pearl of Bedfordview, Knysna, Alan Tew, Red and Fragrant, Black Madonna, Pink Simplicity,and Tournament of Roses are among the colourful display. Shelley advocates feeding correctly and at the start of the season uses rabbit pellets and then 5 to 6 week applications of Vigorosa. She feeds her geraniums weekly with excellent results. The amazing sight of a hedgeful of perfumed rose blossom in Spring comes from 2 inherited roses called Francois Juaranville. They are repeat flowering and together with the white of a Mandavilla creeper, pour out onto the pavement to add to the show.



Campanulas, shasta daisies, violas, pansies, geraniums, inca lilies, irises, agapanthus  and many other favourites add to the impact of this riot of colour. Bouganvilleas clamber up 2 sides of the cottage and their bright hues with the fuschias which grow so well, make for a lovely entrance for guests. A stunning shiny caprosma, lemon geranium and a pyracantha lead one to the rose covered  arch which leads through onto the side garden. Clivias, azaleas in pots, and other shade loving plants form a border under the established trees while a pink frangipani and other ‘hot’favourites soak up the scorching summer heat on the opposite side.  


Shelley loves blue and has used  this to great effect with Royal Cape plumbago and agapanthus mingled with a few vegetables in the back garden and where the rose Graham Thomas does exceptionally well. A beautiful clear yellow hibiscus thrives as well.


Gardens are reputed to reflect the characteristics of the gardener and in this case it is definitely a true thought. A lovely, serene ambiance envelops one on entering and invites one to take a step back in time when gardens were a space to enjoy the abundance and exuberance of nature. 

Photographs: The Godsells

Text: Carol Kennedy