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An African garden titled Embedded In Mother Earth, and designed by Ann� Cilliers, David Dorgan and Byron Leppan, is this year's winner of the Lifestyle Garden Design Show, which is now on in Randburg.

Johannesburg - The 17th annual Lifestyle Garden Design Show opened recently at Lifestyle Home Garden in Randpark Ridge.

Eleven large show gardens are on display.

Eight were designed and built by landscape design students at the Lifestyle College, under the direction of landscaper Richard Gibb.

Three were built by professional landscape designers Sonita Coetzee, Bruce Stead, Debbie Smit and Mike Rickhoff.

“Our show takes place in peak growing season and not only showcases the hottest trends in garden design, but also highlights the latest ‘must-have’ plants, gardening products and accessories,” says Lifestyle Home Garden’s Mike Gibbons.

“With more and more people living in less and less space, there is a greater need to make smart decisions about what to grow and how to grow it. Our designer gardens are the ideal way to get ideas necessary to create the perfect small space haven,” he adds.

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An Italian garden, titled Antico Argilla, was designed by Karl Sutcliffe and Joanne van der Westhuizen. It's a herbal orchard patio design set in a 15th century Roman villa.

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This year’s theme is Gardening Through the Ages and takes visitors on a journey through the history of garden design. The gardens reflect the evolving art of gardening by combining colour, composition, texture and creativity and have provided beauty and pleasure for centuries.

“Today’s gardeners create everything from traditional English gardens to practical vegetable gardens to colourful and geometrical Islamic gardens,” says Gibb. The show reflects the widest variety of gardens since at the show in years.

The building of the gardens involves a team of nearly 60 people and most of the build-up took place in January’s sweltering heat. “Last year we built through weeks of rain,” says Gibb. “This year we had extreme heat.”

After four weeks of construction, the student gardens were judged earlier this week by top landscapers Aileen Joubert, Trish Manicom and Debbie Smit. All the judges remarked on the students’ creativity and the use in every garden of at least one unique design idea, not seen in previous shows.

Breadth of vision is the key to this year’s gardens. “There is a huge variety of gardens this year. There is something for everyone’s taste or design style,” says Gibb.

“In particular, there is an enormously creative use of everyday garden products. For example, window boxes are turned into water features, retaining blocks are turned into pillars, and vertical walls are created with wooden trellises,” he adds.

Although a wide range of plants were used in this year’s show, every garden contained herbs and edible plants, many of which were incorporated into ornamental gardens. Another aspect was that the gardens could be duplicated quite easily in local gardens and were filled with interesting ideas.

The 2013 Best on Show Trophy and a Platinum Award at the show went to an indigenous African garden titled Embedded in Mother Earth. The garden was created by a close-knit team of designers, including Anné Cilliers, David Dorgan and Byron Leppan.

With an indigenous planting scheme, the team created a forest garden using thorn trees, colourful crocosmias, ericas and anthuriums. A living green wall was made up of drought-hardy plants and a bug hotel made from recycled material to attract all the bugs in the garden.

Two additional platinum awards went to an Aztec garden and a 15th century Roman garden.

An excellent garden with a difficult brief, the Aztec garden, titled Moctezuma’s Garden, needed to include all the terraces, colour and grandeur of an Aztec mountain. A vertical garden planted up with asparagus ferns and a water feature, created using a variety of water features, was eye-catching.

Third place at the show went to the Roman garden, titled Antico Argilla. With a simple design, beautiful shades of colour and an innovative vertical garden, this garden had a unique design as visitors view it from the back of the garden. Its positioning creates a secret garden which includes a water feature and fragrant plants. - Saturday Star

* The show runs until June.

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