18 November, 2015

Noordhoek open gardens in October

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

I have followed garden blogs as they prepare for an open garden. A busy year for Pam at Digging in Texas. I was shocked when one of the Noordhoek gardeners told me they had just two weeks warning for October!! Noordhoek is a suburb in our wide False Bay valley. With guest houses and equestrian estates. Granted these are upmarket gardens with a regular garden service, always ready to show, but still.

We meandered thru new to us areas, up the slopes, into housing estates - looking for the bunches of blue balloons as we hunted down the next garden on the confusing map.

Hunting for blue balloons
at Noordhoek open gardens

The sea and mountain views, the slopes with protea bushes, the lizard watching us cautiously from the stones - reminded me of our Camps Bay garden. No regrets for battling to work on a slope, but for the wilder, closer to nature garden, and the wide views. Memories of the sunny Atlantic seaboard, while we now enjoy a milder moister (rain today) climate.


A large pond with a resident family of Egyptian geese.

Egyptian geese

A garden focused on the spectacular view up to Chapman's Peak. With a vibrant Moroccan mosaic on the wall just across from the kitchen sink window. Enjoyed their scones and tea as we worked our way across all ten gardens.

View of Chapman's Peak

Tucked away in a corner behind many trees we found a garden with its own stream and a magnificent collection of bonsai. The tiny forest is a mass of seedlings planted 2 months ago. Once the roots have settled, then the training will begin.

Stream at bonsai garden

Bonsai collection

This was the one I found most encouraging, seeing young gardeners in their twenties. Two years ago they started with established hedges, but the garden inside is their own work. The front in roses and pink and blue, the back in yellow and orange.

A young garden

An artist's home where we enjoyed her studio and her garden. A modern house where the rain would cascade off the roof edge without gutters, to soak into the garden, and a careful rain hat built over the cat-flap below.

The artist's garden

No swimming pool in our lifestyle but the associated wetland to filter the water for an ecopool intrigued both of us. Such clear water, and an opportunity for my bog plants, his dragonflies and frogs.

Ecopool with its wetland filter

The last one, with a Toad NUT founder, felt like home. Especially the bat house that we never did organise for our Porterville bats. Another ecopool, this one with a lining made of recycled advertising banners.

Gardening for biodiversity

It was a good day exploring gardens in our climate, reassuring to see some who shared our gardening for biodiversity mindset. Way beyond our budget and space constraints, but we will aim at the bijou facets.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer

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  1. What beautiful gardens. I love seeing all the different ideas people have and I especially love seeing the gardens as our weather turns colder. xo Laura

  2. My goodness these are quite amazing, different and in such an big space. It is encouraging to see more biodiversity. Th swimming pools that are filtered naturally are catching on more and more and if I wanted a pool that would be how I would want it designed.

  3. Hi Diana! Thanks for enabling us to visits some of the gardens with you. I really like Ecopools. Nothing beats nature when it comes to purifying water in the best and non-nocive way.

  4. I always find it inspiring to tour others' gardens. Thanks for taking us along to these. -Jean

  5. Great idea to do an ecopool! It's so fascinating to see how different your gardens are in S. Africa, and yet many things in common, too. Good garden design and gardening for biodiversity make sense no matter where you live. Thanks for sharing highlights from the tour.

  6. I enjoyed every bit of this garden tour, and of course the views of Camps Bay brings back memories. Lovely to see so many varied garden beds and plants, and the swimming pool filtered naturally is very interesting. Thanks for the post.

  7. Ah, the pleasures of the well heeled, I guess I will remain content with bijou.

  8. Thumbs up to anyone who's willing to put up with Egyptian Geese! Beautiful posts as per usual :)

    1. We have a family on the Cat Walk at Fish Hoek. From 8 tiny ones they are now 6 teenagers.

    2. Always enjoy your tours.

  9. You're bringing spring in my fall. First rainy day here and you're sending sun! How wonderful. Would be fun having your strow stars in my magazine!
    All my best and a wonderful time

  10. The gardens are all so lovely, and It is encouraging to see gardens planted for biodiversity. I especially liked the young couple's garden with the stream and bonsai. The mountains and valley that serve as backdrop for these gardens are magnificent. It looked like a wonderful day for a gardens tour!

  11. This was a really interesting post. I'm also glad to hear that you saw and appreciated the gardens of people in their twenties. There is certainly a resurgence here where I live! Many young gardeners, wanting to change the world one organic salad at a time. Lovely photos! I could almost hear the Moroccan music. The artist's home was my favorite because of the way she has layered the trellised the garden space. The rain cap is a perfect idea. Great tour! Thank you.

  12. There was recently an exhibit of Bonsai at the Portland Art Museum where some of the specimens were in the $20,000.00 range. We did not buy any.

    1. I'd be nervous about adopting a tree that had been trained for long enough to earn that price tag!

  13. I love garden tours, Diana, and bringing home good ideas (when they are within my price range.) "A garden focused on a view" and enjoyed with scones and tea? Perfect. P. x