16 December, 2015

Mont Pellier and Artemis House - gardens in Franschhoek

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

In November 2008 we saw How the other half live. Double storey guest wing. Rows of garages for boats. Helicopter landing pad. Stabling for horses.

Gardens In Town - including Monty Don's choice. On farms and country estates - Mont Pellier. If I would, live here, I would exchange the eye-level view of the Skuifraam Dam wall on the Berg River. I'd have This View, of the approach to the house. (As I edit this, I have an idyllic view of our Camps Bay home. Surrounded by neighbours. But those same mountains)

Mont Pellier in Franschhoek 2008

It is so far up the mountain, that we were asked to park at the olive orchard, and they provided a little bus. The garden is all just so, perfectly manicured, but at the same time very inviting. I could see us living here, in my dreams. See how seamlessly the swimming pool (don't need that, thanks) and predominantly indigenous garden, flow into those proteas growing wild on the mountain slope.

Pool and mountain slope at Mont Pellier 2008

Near the kitchen door. The herb and vegetable garden, sorry, potager. Artichokes and designer lettuces. A flight of steps, with a collection of terracotta pots. ('This is a garden, not a hospital'. All residents are lush, full of flowers, blooming with health). Angling up the steps an enchanting collection of small glazed tiles.

Pots on steps at Mont Pellier 2008

The house spreads over many levels, with a vast, shady, sheltered from the prevailing wind, loggia for entertaining. Behind that huge arch you see, in the top picture. Painted in a gentle combination of subtle shades, with Table Mountain Sandstone detailing, to echo the mountain on each side of the valley. Lots of French gray.

Mont Pellier in French grey 2008

On the terrace a pair of huge terracotta urns, with olive trees. A cluster of aloes, one with burgundy leaves - and that is the colour painted on the accompanying French chair.

Potted olive tree at Mont Pellier 2008

There is no sense of scale in this picture. But imagine a chunk of tree, smoothed by the sea or a torrential river. Weathered to satin, so you want to stroke it. Now, believe that it is a little bench, big enough to sit on, in blissful comfort, enjoying the view of the garden and the surrounding mountains. Could stay here all day … but the bus is leaving. Down thru olive trees and lavender, dry stone walls, and a river runs thru it. More Mont Pellier in 2011 with Driftwood Ramblings.

Mont Pellier's found wooden bench 2008

At Artemis House we wandered round enjoying an unusual (wild and indigenous) garden which is home to two artists - Andrea Desmond-Smith (mytho-poetic artist concerned with the destruction of our planet) and Kobus Stander (blacksmithing, steel plasma cutting, mixed media)

I've admired rain chains but this stork gargoyle on Artemis Barn still calls me all these years later! Photos of the Barn and gardens or stay over in two self-catering apartments at Franschhoek.

Gargoyle on Artemis Barn 2008

I've tried Dymondia margaretae as a groundcover before. Silver carpet - yes please! Battled with it before, but here I saw it had its own dedicated tiny irrigation system. I planted it (in July) among the white iris in our False Bay garden. So far, it is filling in nicely.

Dymondia lawn at Artemis House in 2008

Two owls guard the entrance to the house.

Owl at Artemis House 2008

The frogs at the pond are each glazed with their own colours and patterns.

Ceramic frogs at the pond
Artemis House 2008

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Pictures by Diana Studer

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  1. what an amazing place, so much to see, absolutely breath taking!

  2. Yes, I could definitely live at Mont Pellier!

  3. The gardens are certainly well curated and thoughtfully done, but that stork rain spout is one of the most clever and imaginative things I've ever seen. I had to sit and stare at it for quite a long time, smiling as I did so. What a treat!

  4. What a GREAT place, thank you for sharing.


  5. Ah.....Franschhook! a little bit of France in the Cape...and the mountains....they are truly something! We drove from Hermanus to Franschhook and the scenery was spectacular. I was glad my Australian husband could see those views.

  6. Incredible. The stork downspout is something special! Of course, I too could see myself living in a place like that ... in my dreams.

  7. And I wouldn’t mind calling this home either! I must admit I sat and stared at the olive tree in the terracotta urn for a long time, wondering how long it would take to grow from a tiny (affordable) plant to that size. Maybe I will nick that idea! Thanks for sharing, wonderful photos and the whole mood of your post is lovely.

    1. I can imagine growing the tree
      but a pot that size!!
      Way beyond our budget.

    2. I have seen some nice containers in fibreglass, plastic and resin over here that looks really stylish, still rather expensive at around £150, but if I bought a baby olive I would have many years to save up for a nice container before it needed that size. Over here things like that is possibly to buy second hand too.

    3. I was dreaming of terracotta or glazed pottery - no frost here.

  8. Beautiful! I'm longing for summer .... and the area you're living in! Thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful christmas time, all my best to you and yours

  9. There are so many delightful touches in this post, Diana, from the stork gutter spout to the ceramic frogs but I absolutely love that found wood bench!

  10. The pots on steps is my favorite picture here, Diana. And love the froggy pond. P. x

  11. What a stunning place to visit...it's rather inspiring isn't it?

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas....

    And the Boo would love to wander if the opportunity presented itself, that's why he is confined to the backyard, and only out front if we are with him. Too much of a dangerous world here to let him go free.


    1. Having twice disappeared for 2 days, Thomas is going to be confined to the house for another 2 weeks. We are still working patiently on getting him to understand 'with'.

  12. Mont Pellier gets my vote - it is gorgeous! It's hard to imagine that garden there from the distant photo.

    1. layers of surprises as we got closer and closer

  13. Yes this is a dream I'd say...from the Pool and mountain slope view, which is stunning, to that stork...I love that...and all the pots, but oh the steps and the silvery Dymondia lawn. Very nice indeed...can't wait to see how yours is filling in!

    1. for that silvery effect I am drawn to ponyfoot, as seen on Pam's Digging in Texas.

  14. Such beauty! I laughed at your description of the perfect pots on the steps. I am sure that at the first sign of of imperfection, the pot is whisked away and replaced with another! No doubt "the other half" can afford to do that! I do love the silvery dymondia lawn.

  15. The blending of the cultivated and wild gardens is very inspiring -- something I'd love to achieve in my own garden. -Jean

    1. here with rocks and mountain.
      Yours with the forest.
      Do you know this blog?
      He has gone quiet on his blog, but there is a wonderful archive.

  16. Mont Pelier looks quite enchanting. Season's Greetings to you Diana and may the new year treat you and your garden most kindly.

  17. What a glorious place, Diana. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season.