Spring festival inspiration for Gauteng gardeners

By Kay Montgomery Time of article published Jul 31, 2014

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Johannesburg - A glorious showcase of designer gardens is on display at the Garden World Spring Festival in Muldersdrift. An annual spring event on the gardening calendar, the festival runs until the end of August.

“For the Love of Nature is this year’s theme, so expect gardens that reconnect with nature, nurture the earth, and walk on the wild side,” says Garden World partner, Jan de Waal. “It has inspired the building of 12 new designer gardens and four re-vamped gardens,” he adds.

The highlight of the festival is a recreation of South Africa’s exhibit at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show in London. Designed by David Davidson and Raymond Hudson, the world class Harmony in Nature exhibit includes a spectacular portrait of Nelson Mandela in dried protea rosettes that proved to be an absolute showstopper with international visitors in London.

The exhibit is divided into four sections, a forest, savannah, fynbos and mountain ravine. The newly constructed “Boomslang” Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway at Kirstenbosch is recreated in the design as an enchanted forest habitat.

Proclaimed a World Heritage Site, Mapungubwe National Park and the savannah habitat of Limpopo are reflected in the design of the exhibit, alongside a fynbos garden and mountain ravine habitat featuring Streptocarpus, ferns, moss and arums.

The prestigious Best on Show Trophy at the Garden World Spring Festival was awarded jointly to two gardens, “Dancing with Nature” and “Eat, Grow, Live”.

The spectacular “Dancing with Nature” garden was designed by Sonita Young and installed by horticulturist, JJ van Rensburg. An enormously attractive aspect of the garden is the prairie-style planting inspired by the influential Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf, which is planted under floating concrete steps and around beautiful custom-made contemporary steel artwork.

“The gardening style is low maintenance and can easily be recreated by any keen gardener who has to endure freezing, Highveld winter temperatures,” says JJ van Rensburg. “The grasses create a haven for all wildlife and their seeds are an absolute feast for birds.”

Joint winner of the Best on Show Trophy was a second garden entitled, “Eat, Grow, Live”. Designed by Grant Gove and implemented by Four Seasons Gardens, the exhibit is primarily a small city garden with a touch of nature.

A highlight of the “Eat, Grow, Live” garden is a patio which overlooks a meditation pond which doubles as a natural eco pool, filtered by a reed bed and water plants. An outdoor shower is supplied by harvested rainwater and an edible roof garden is planted up in urban-chic planters crafted from recycled pallets.

Five gardens were awarded gold awards at the Spring Festival. The garden, “Through the Eyes of the Innocent” is among the most imaginatively brave gold award winning designs showcased at this festival in past years.

Designed by one of South Africa’s most creative landscapers, Leon Kluge, the garden is built around a white stinkwood tree (Celtis africana) and includes an underplanting of love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis), yellow daisies (Chrysanthemum multicaule), colourful boxes and a whirlwind of leaves.

“This garden invites you to take a glimpse into the world of a child. A world where autumn tree leaves don’t just fall and die, they gather together one last time and as the wind picks them up and twirls them into the air, it transforms them into stunning butterflies,” says Kluge.

Designer Tim Hines also received a gold award for his “Room with a View” garden which showcases what you can do in a small space.

Using a backdrop of wild olives, this garden uses warm-coloured winter-flowering aloes, (Aloe “Egoli”, Aloe “Orange Jade”) and Arctotis “Red Radiance”.

“The garden treats the outdoor space as an extension to the home’s internal living space rather than as a stand-alone garden in the conventional sense,” says Hines.

The “Birth of Nature”, a second garden designed by Sonita Young and implemented by Sarah Vermaak, also received a gold award.

Dominated by wooden screening, the organic design of this contemporary design begins with the crater, from which the garden emerges into a world of soft planting in a powerful wave of colour that spreads from whites to mauves. Splashes of planted-up rings and topiary balls explode from the crater.

In addition to the 12 show gardens, visitors will find six school gardens, children’s box gardens and the floral exhibits of the Gauteng Flora Union and Interflora. Events include celebrities such as RSG Radio’s Derrich Gardener, herb expert Margaret Roberts, television personality Tanya Visser and food gardening author, Jane Griffiths.

* Visit the Garden World Spring Festival and see 12 designer gardens. Ends August 31, 8am-5pm. Garden World, Beyers Naudé Drive, Muldersdrift. Contact Magriet on 011 957 2545 or 083 997 6142. Visit www.gardenworld.co.za

Saturday Star

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