Leon KlugeA contemporary garden overlooking Kruger National Park

You really have to try your hardest to get two such opposites. On the one hand you have the structured, contemporary and fairly colorful garden surrounding a modern mansion that overlooks…the complete opposite – a natural wonder that presents a sea of endless shades of green flowing all the way over the Lebombo Mountains into neighboring Mozambique. It’s called Kruger National Park, and it is the biggest reserve in southern Africa.

Looking out across the garden to Kruger National Park Garden Design Leon Kluge

Looking out across the garden to Kruger National Park Garden Design Leon Kluge

At first I struggled with the idea of seeing such an opulent, rather in-your-face home next to the calmness and beauty of the park. But I guess it’s called progress. Just as mansions are built on the shores of LA, the same goes for the edge of any Safari park in Africa. Waking up and seeing the ‘Big 5’ in your front garden is quite the adrenalin rush to many. Sighhh…

Bespoke cast pavers surrounded by a sea of mini mondo grass Design Leon Kluge

Bespoke cast pavers surrounded by a sea of mini mondo grass Design Leon Kluge

The clients was very clear in their brief that the garden was to in no way be an indigenous bush garden, as they are petrified of snakes. That’s very understandable, as this area is known for massive Black Mambas, but if a Mamba decides to enter your property, nothing will stop it, not even a million garlic plants, nor a nuclear arsenal.

Design Leon Kluge

As the garden had an incredibly difficult slope, I had to design terraces to make it more user friendly and encourage the owners to actually walk through their garden and not just look at it from their tea room.

An area to look down on its patterns but also stroll through Design Leon Kluge

An area to look down on its patterns but also stroll through Design Leon Kluge

The shape of the cascading terraces echoes the shapes of the house Design Leon Kluge

The shape of the cascading terraces echoes the shapes of the house Design Leon Kluge

This part of Africa is extremely hot and has temperatures hovering in the low 40 degrees for long periods of time. The chosen plants need to be tough but also look ‘tame’.

Looking across the back garden planting Design Leon Kluge

Looking across the back garden planting Design Leon Kluge

Grasses was used in various ways to attract local bird life (luckily the owners don’t have cats).

Curved frames for climbers sit in a frothy sea of Euphorbia Diamond Frost Design Leon Kluge

Curved frames for climbers sit in a frothy sea of Euphorbia Diamond Frost Design Leon Kluge

As with all my gardens, art is incredibly important to me, and has to be included in all my gardens. This carries through from the designing of the arches and pavers to most of the sculptures with each one unique, and hopefully a talking point when guests walk through the landscape.

The timber arch sculpture planted with greenwall grasses Design Leon Kluge

The timber arch sculpture planted with greenwall grasses Design Leon Kluge

A water rill leads from the house leads to the Tea Cup water feature and views to Kruger National Park Garden Design Leon Kluge

A water rill leads from the house leads to the Tea Cup water feature and views to Kruger National Park Garden Design Leon Kluge

The most challenging design for me was the ‘Tea Cup’, the big water feature that the house looks out upon. It came into my head after I was sitting in the local coffee shop stirring my cup of coffee, creating a vortex in the cup when stirring in the extra 2 packets (I’m trying to cut down) of sugar into my coffee fast enough.

The Tea Cup water feature outside Design Leon Kluge

The Tea Cup water feature outside Design Leon Kluge

The water feature starts by water flowing out of one of the main walls of the house into a hand moulded concrete trough creating a waterfall that falls over the edge of each terrace and finally into the vortex of the teacup, covered by a net in the photo, as we had children coming over for a visit to the site.

After dark the Tea Cup sparkles with tiny LED lights, just like the African night sky Design Leon Kluge

After dark the Tea Cup sparkles with tiny LED lights, just like the African night sky Design Leon Kluge

The exterior concrete work of the Tea Cup had small LED lights cast in that emulate the clear African night sky that is just alive with bright stars.

My Kudzu sculptures graze between the perennials Design Leon Kluge

My Kudzu sculptures graze between the perennials Design Leon Kluge

The planting around the Tea Cup is a mix of perennials that flower throughout the year. Among these are Kudu sculptures grazing in-between, which I had brought back home all the way from Japan where I used them in one of my show gardens.

A more secluded area close to the house with scroll paving and selected bamboo, liriope and grasses Design Leon Kluge

A more secluded area close to the house with scroll paving and selected bamboo, liriope and grasses Design Leon Kluge

It’s a garden that has some elements of wild in it, but also a taste of order and design.

It is one of my favorite and probably the most difficult of gardens I have designed and built, due to locality and its extreme weather, but it was well worth it.

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Leon Kluge

About Leon Kluge

Leon Kluge is an award-winning landscape designer who was part of the successful South African team at Chelsea in both 2010 and 2012, and the Gardening World Cup in Japan in 2011, and then won a Gold medal at the 2013 Cup. Leon is known for his modern, contemporary landscapes, sustainable community projects and his specialisation in vertical gardens. His company Leon Kluge Landscape Design is based in north-eastern South Africa.

2 thoughts on “A contemporary garden overlooking Kruger National Park

  1. How interesting Leon!
    Your clients must be delighted with the myriad elements they can enjoy from the (yes, rather imposing) home. Fabulous.

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