Many of the display gardens at Johannesburg’s Garden World Spring Festival are makeovers of older gardens. It’s a challenging design brief but one that’s very similar to what a designer can find in a residential situation, where you have to work with existing garden features. Here are two 2016 gardens that are makeovers of old gardens.
Each year you inherit something from the previous ‘owners’ of the site. It could be huge rocks that were brought in by crane and are too big to move again as walls have now been built around the garden. Or it could be an old pond and water feature which nobody has had the heart to break down. Sometimes the gardens have been worked over so many times that when we start planting and digging below the surface it’s like an archeological dig as we find all sorts of things under and behind plants, and under the old paving and paths. Just like an old residential garden, you are never really sure what you’re going to find or what changes to the new design you might need to make as you go.
‘Oriental Expression‘, designed by the Guild of Landscape Designers and installed by Brenda Niehaus of Fern Lily and Landscaping and Guild student Alexandra Kellendonk. For SA Garden and Home
The garden Brenda was allocated to overhaul had become a real overgrown jungle of plants and piles of jagged rocks, an old pond and rendered beige-coloured walls. I think what she did with it in only a few days was amazing.
Brenda’s garden before…
The new garden develops an oriental theme, reusing much of the existing rock and revamping the water feature running through it, creating both a soothing and inspirational garden.
Brenda retained many of the existing plants but with some judicious thinning. By adding a stronger coloured terracotta backdrop, the predominantly mid-green foliage plants are given a real lift and their texture differences become more obvious.
Brenda’s garden after…
And now ‘my’ garden…
‘Enhancing Nature‘, designed by Bernadine Drath and installed by Rose Vermeulen, Indigo Landscapes.
This is a makeover of an old display garden where we started with an old pebble water feature and some lawn surrounded by semi-mature trees and, at the other end of the garden, a large Dracaena with a very deep pond and rock waterfall.
We’ve updated the garden into a fresh and contemporary look, while retaining some of the original layout. Although we kept many of the foundation plantings, we wanted to give it a much prettier look by adding flowers, foliage colour contrasts and some decorative artworks.
It’s a garden in two halves with a woodland area and water feature, filled with small, mystical creatures on one side and the gazebo seating area and new modern water feature in the other, installed in the old pond.
To create a fresh green backdrop we’ve used Dicksonia tree ferns, leather leaf ferns (Rumohra adiantiformis), aspidistra and liriope and added Acorus gramineus ‘Mini Gold’ for some golden highlights and Alternanthera ficoidea ‘Red Threads’ for some deeper purple tones. Drifts of a variety of pink cyclamens will keep flowering right through the Spring Festival.
I’ve added quite a few of my ‘creatures’ which both adults and the children love spotting throughout the garden.
Just to make my day, I also did some duty at the garden watching lots of people going through, looking and taking photos. I just loved the reaction to my water feature, with its twisted water outflow. I could see all the men thinking:
‘Oh, how easy’.
Well, I have news for you! This is quite a scientific experiment to get the slits at just the right angle and to keep a certain amount of water in the pipes. You have to know your pumps and your engineering. I would love to see some of the home jobs. Everyone just loves it because it is something different in our market place.