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.

Cuisine Africaine, design Leon Kluge. Chateau Chaumont 2015 11 copy South African garden at Chaumont sur Loire

When I opened the email last year asking me to be part of the Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival (IGF), I just about fell off my chair. To be part of this show has been on the top of my bucket list for as long as I have been gardening. It’s a show that cannot be compared to any other by any stretch of the imagination and the best of all …it’s in the middle of France hidden away in a tiny town called Chaumont nestled on the banks of the huge La Loire river. Continue reading

'A Maleficent View' Design Leon Kluge. Best in Show Landscape Philadelphia Flower Show 2015 1 Lights, Camera, BLOOM – and a win at Philly!

Arriving at JFK international airport, Bayley LuuTomes and I could see that this would be a show like no other. It’s -7 degrees Celsius outside, and everything from the roads to the telephone posts are covered with ice. And not the pretty white and fluffy kind. No this was old brown and black snow, the dirty kind that you slip on while holding on for dear life at every traffic light pole, while praying the light would change quickly so you could get into the nearest shop and just buy whatever they sell so you have an excuse to stay inside and warm up. Continue reading

Garden design Leon Kluge, South Africa12 copy Family fun in my twirly-top garden

What an exciting garden to have designed and built! But it has also been one of those rough, ‘armageddon’ sites where you had to sit down and slowly take in the obstacles at hand. Talk about a difficult site to work on. If we weren’t being pestered by big, grumpy bush pigs, there were the impenetrable walls of thorny lantana, never-ending vertical drops of stone or the vertical rock face that gave us almost no soil in the garden deeper than 10cm to plant in. Then, just for laughs, a Black Mamba* would make its appearance and spoil the morning for the team. Continue reading

DSC_0326_2 Gardening World Cup, Japan 2014

Once again a collaboration of countries all flocked to Nagasaki, Japan to compete and participate in the annual Gardening World Cup. There were 3 categories this year: show gardens, with chosen designs representing UK, France, Japan, Singapore, Italy, Morocco and Canada. The second category was the small courtyard gardens, all done by Japanese entries. The third category was the large feature gardens, which are not judged but there to enhance the show Continue reading

gold Accidents do happen: show garden hazards

“I could have done that, easy peasey”
“Oh! I don’t really like red”….or my absolute personal favourite:
“I don’t get it?”
“There’s not much to get, just read the explanation board right in front of you….”
(No, I didn’t really say that to him, but I may have been tempted to)
“Accidents do happen!”

Continue reading

Singita Boulders, Sabi Sands, South Africa27 Elephant-proof garden at Singita Boulders

This was one of my favourite projects to date, although the hectic deadline was not so favorable. I had only two and a half weeks to design and install the gardens for Singita Boulders, one of the world’s most exclusive African safari lodges, a holiday retreat for personalities like, Oprah, Charlize Theron, Reeba Mcyntire and Kelly Clarkson. Continue reading

Freedom Park, Pretoria, South Africa12 copy Freedom Park, a tribute to democracy

This memorial park stands high above the capital city of South Africa, beaming a glow of pride over the nation that has overcome so many difficulties to be where it is today. On the mountain of Salvokop on the outskirts of Pretoria, hundreds of men and loads of bulldozers were working for years on end, excavating, blasting, moving earth around and mixing concrete to create one of the worlds best modern gardens and a tribute to democracy founded on dignity, human rights and freedom. Continue reading

Bubbles of opportunity Camera, props and mosquito repellent

Driving along a corrugated narrow dirt road (if you could still call it that) in the East African Bush, the temperature is a sizzling 41 degrees and the mosquitos unrelenting, fighting each other to get a mouthful of warm blood from my legs. After hours of driving I was still looking for that perfect spot that I have dreamed off for a week now. Continue reading

screens are planted up with creepers and have atomizer sprays inside, so the cool moist air falls down from the misters and cools the areas of the house that opens to the outside African eco house and garden

This has been one of the most interesting projects I have worked on for a long time. In the heart of Johannesburg, screened of by some ancient oak trees, is one of Africa’s greenest houses, in every sense of the word. The project won the Enviropeadia eco-logic Innovation award this year for pushing boundaries in green architecture. The design of the house and garden took almost 2 years to complete, with the architecture by Kenneth Stucke with the landscape design by me. Continue reading

With Paul Hervey-Brookes Gardening World Cup Japan 2013

Once again the USA, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the UK and Malaysia were all represented this year at the prestigious Gardening World Cup held annually in Nagasaki, Japan. It’s a careful selection of the world’s best and most ‘out of the box’ designers, coming together to show what magic they can create given a strict budget and a theme, which was to display ‘World Peace’. Continue reading

Crinum macowanii A spring of dry dust, scent and colour

Can I smell it, or is it just in my head, please let it be…..Nope, should have known it’s only the neighbour’s sprinkler system that is sending up that particular scent of water on dust. Yip, it’s spring in southern Africa. When I think about spring in the movies, it’s cherry blossoms, butterflies and picnics in between the yellow buttercups, but this is Africa, so nothing is that simple. Spring time over here is quite the opposite of how the movies portray it. Continue reading

The karoo The succulent Karoo

Flying over the white snowy mountains of the western cape and looking down at one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world – Table Mountain, towering above Cape Town, easily one of the most beautiful cities on earth, you know you are in a special place. I always feel like I have arrived home when touching down in Cape Town, although I live on the opposite and much wilder end of the African continent, but the cape is where my heart lies and always will be, and no, it is not just because of the excellent wine. Continue reading

Best part of the show, Joanna Lumley Chelsea Flower Show 2013 Was Chelsea a bit mild this year?

Every year Chelsea has its challenges for us, whether it would be the wrong signature on the right paper, or the wrong paper with the right plant or any other combination you can imagine, Yip, the joys of red tape!
This year was no exception. Every year we experience mild to warm weather at the show, with a few drizzles of course, and I always pack the warmest, thickest winter woollies I own for London’s summer and never touch any of them, so this year I thought to go without (ok ok, I needed space for plants in my suitcase)…….. Continue reading