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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Update : Steeply Sloped Garden

I got a chance today to visit a garden we completed in the beginning of winter this year. Its one of my favourite parts of my job - going back to check and see how things are going in a garden that I've planted months or even years before.

I approach these visits as if I were seeing a long lost friend again - with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation. You're really looking forward to seeing them, but you're also wondering whether time may have been unkind to your friendship.

As much as I research, and deliberate and finally decide on a design for a garden, there are always things that I haven't bargained for, and sometimes things don't always turn out exactly as I'm expecting. Sometimes a certain plant may not have worked in its situation, other times, weather or pests have taken their toll.

But often the hard work does pay off. Sometimes I'm even pleasantly surprised to see how well things have taken. It may be a combination of plants that I'm trying for the first time or a plant that does very well in its new home. But it always makes me happy to see one of my gardens thriving.

Today was one of those days, and it also happily reinforced my love affair with grasses.  The steep slope from the road up to the house, on which we planted mainly wild grasses is covered in lush green Aristida, and the bergundy plumes of Melinis are a lovely greeting as you drive into the property. Bearing in mind that the garden was planted at the beginning of a relatively dry winter, the growth has been amazing.

The only blight on the visit, was that white ants had eaten the bark off the base of 2 of the Crossberries that we planted on the bank, and in the process assigning them to the compost heap.

The groundcover in front is Asystasia, a pretty little groundcover that thrives in coastal sand dunes, and great for stabilizing banks quickly. The plan is that in time the grove of Cross berries will hide the fence, and blur the boundary. At the same time they will help create a bit of screening from the house.


Nell Jean said...

Another interesting post! Didn't it fill in quickly? I'm newly come to your blog and find many things of interest. Many South African plants do very well in my hot, humid climate with mild winters.

Niall said...

Hi Ross. I'm looking for a wild grass that will do well on a bank in front of a hedge of plumbago and cape honeysuckle. any suggestions?


stoneware70 said...

Thanks Nell, I'm glad you're enjoying the blog - our plants do seem to travel quite well. I love seeing some of our indigenous plants in gardens around the world.

Hey Niall, great decision - I'm assuming its a sunny bank if you have plumbago and tecomaria? Both of the grasses that I used here (Aristida junciformis and Melinis repens) would do well.
Eragrostis capensis and Setaria megaphylla are also another two grasses you could use. Setaria does well in shady areas too.

Carolize Jansen said...

Dear Ross,
I've often wondered about the relationship between landscape designers and their gardens. Is your official/paid relationship with the garden over when the project is finished? Could you, if you saw something that needed attention (like plants becoming leggy that need to be replaced, like Osteospermums would after a few years), offer your advice to the erstwhile clients? It seems rather illogical for the designer's involvement to be terminated when (and because) everything has been planted.
Carolize Jansen

stoneware70 said...

Hi Carolize,
I must admit, I still think of the gardens that I've done 10 years ago, as MY gardens...that my clients get to tend.

If I could, I would visit them every couple of years. When I do visit, I can't resist pulling weeds out as I walk around, or feel an itch to cut back, or change an area.

In some ways, a garden is never complete - there should always be improvements, and changes being made. Unfortunately, many people think of a landscaped garden as a finished product when in reality its a work in progress.

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