Situated high on the hill in Estuary Heights is Narnia Guest House, the home of Stella and Richard Sohn. With panoramic views of the Outeniqua Mountains and the Lagoon, this property is a hidden gem of Knysna. The garden has undergone many changes in its twenty – one years, as drought and fire have influenced Stella to change from “English Garden” to a more accommodating indigenous style.
The sprawling garden complements the rustic guesthouse magnificently: quirky African- inspired artwork is displayed discreetly amongst the vegetation, and weathered benches and seating entice visitors to sit and drink in the tranquil atmosphere and birdsong.
The garden at the pool area is rustic and natural. Plants native to the area are allowed to pop up, whilst a few Pincushions were planted amongst the grasses and restios to provide colour in spring. This bit of garden is Stella’s favourite as it is undemanding, and surprises her every season with some ‘new’ plants appearing. Fortunately the water requirement of this section is very little, as the two rain-fed dams have to provide water for the entire garden – which is a full acre.
A collection of Bonsai is displayed in a rustic arbour which nestles in colourful flowing beds, interlinking with one another. Nearby, in an area protected from the wind, is an informal rose bed. With the different ‘rooms’ in the garden this new rose area is not at odds with the informality of the rest of the garden. A fire pit with log seating and hints of Africa sits comfortably in the front section of the garden, overlooking the Outeniqua Mountains. One can only imagine sitting there on a windless, starry night listening to the calls of a Nightjar.
Stella has achieved her ambition of gardening on a large scale; she has created a garden of many interests, one that attracts a wide range of wildlife, and a tranquil haven for her family and guests.
Stella is not a member of our Club, but as a passionate gardener she is always willing to share the beauty that she has created. I would like to thank her for allowing me to do this article on her garden.
~ Photos and Text Esther Townsend