Rose VermeulenMakeover gardens at Garden World’s Spring Festival

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.

Design by the Guild of Landscape Designers and installed by Brenda Niehaus, Fern Lily

Design by the Guild of Landscape Designers and installed by Brenda Niehaus, Fern Lily

 

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…

Brenda's garden BEFORE

Brenda’s garden BEFORE

water-feature-in-brendas-garden-before

Brenda's garden BEFORE

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…

Brenda's garden makeover uses a strong coloured backdrop to enhance the existing plants

Brenda’s garden makeover uses a strong coloured backdrop to enhance the existing plants

Water feature in Brenda's garden AFTER

Water feature in Brenda’s garden AFTER

Picking up the rich terracotta red in decorative pots

Picking up the rich terracotta red in decorative pots

 

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.

The rendered wall and main foliage plants gives a good start but it needs a lot more pizzazz

The rendered wall and main foliage plants gives a good start but it needs a lot more pizzazz

The garden before - there are some good foliage plants but the water feature is tired and needs updating

The garden before – there are some good foliage plants but the old water feature needs updating

 

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.

'Enhancing Nature', designed by Bernadine Drath and installed by Rose Vermeulen, Indigo Landscapes

‘Enhancing Nature’, designed by Bernadine Drath and installed by Rose Vermeulen, Indigo Landscapes

'Enhancing Nature', designed by Bernadine Drath and installed by Rose Vermeulen, Indigo Landscapes. Garden World 2016

‘Enhancing Nature’, designed by Bernadine Drath and installed by Rose Vermeulen, Indigo Landscapes. Garden World 2016

Summer house with mosaic wall art

Summer house with mosaic wall art

 

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.

Pipe water feature in 'Enhancing Nature', designed by Bernadine Drath and installed by Rose Vermeulen, Indigo Landscapes

Pipe water feature in ‘Enhancing Nature’, designed by Bernadine Drath and installed by Rose Vermeulen, Indigo Landscapes

 

I’ve added quite a few of my ‘creatures’ which both adults and the children love spotting throughout the garden.

My blue-eyed creature - could have sold this one many times over!

My blue-eyed creature – I could have sold this one many times over if only I could find some more hollow logs.

Making the tree mosaic for the back of the summer house

Making the tree mosaic for the back of the summer house

 

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.

Water pipe with diagonal slit creates a twisted water outflow

Water pipe with diagonal slit creates a twisted water outflow

 

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Rose Vermeulen

About Rose Vermeulen

Rose Vermeulen comes from an IT and customer services background, and decided to change careers to Landscaping. She completed the full Landscape Design Course at Lifestyle College, and holds certification with the City and Guild of London. Rose joined forces in 2001 with Bernadine Drath to create Indigo Landscapes, a design and construction company based in Johannesburg, South Africa and winner of several garden show Gold Awards.

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