Sunday, 1 March 2009

Behind The Scenes - Drakensburg Aloe Garden

The Drakensburg is a spectacular range of mountains that creates quite a scenic border to the South West of Kwazulu Natal. It has quite an extreme climate compared to what we're used to on the coast - with hot days and cold nights, sudden extreme thunderstorms which bring heavy rain and sometimes hail.

I was asked recently to come up with a basic sketch for a back garden in the Drakensburg that sloped away quite steeply. The concept was to use mainly Aloes and other indigenous plants that would add to their already beautiful scenery.

I felt that the garden didn't make good enough use of the views, so I suggested that we have an area of flagstone pavers just outside the back sliding doors, where you could have a table and chairs and sit and have meals while enjoying the view.

As you can see in the very misty photo's, the ground just disappears away, and leaves very little interest in this part of the garden. To remedy this, the plan would be to bring in some extra soil to create a couple of small berms to plant on, and these would create a bit of a replication of the distant hills and mountains. We would also bring up some of the large rocks from the bottom of the bank to plant around, and to make great features themselves.

The planting itself would be indigenous, and ideally endemic to the area. I created a couple of palettes of the plants that I would like to use, to give my clients an idea of what the garden would look like.

The sketch plan, shows the position of the house, with the new paved area, and the changes to the back garden area and bank. The idea is that the plants would slowly blend into the existing grassland below the house.

I have provided a plant list on the side with approximate positions of the plants.

Implementing the design would be quite a challenge, due to the fact that it is with it being so out of the way, and sourcing materials might not be that easy. But also because some of those rocks that I would like to use won't be easy to roll up hill - but they'll be essential in creating a beautiful garden.

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