Somerset West Open Gardens for Helderberg Hospice
By Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Early November we explored the gardens in Somerset West. An embarrassment of riches, by the time the gardens were closing we knew we didn't have a hope of finding the last 3. But delighted to save the best till last as we lingered in our final garden. I remember chameleons in the garden when I was a child, but they are seldom seen now. Wonderful to find a garden where they are encouraged.
Broad Oaks has the 1830 Cape Dutch manor house and a large garden carved out of the former farm. The Eucalyptus tree is 'only' 60 to 80 years old.
A very manicured garden. With a zone denial rose garden sunken against the prevailing southeaster. The pond had a surprisingly exposed slope of liner, someone got their levels confused? Deep border with dark-leaved trees among grey topiary balls.
Two neighbouring houses. The first with an enchanting dry stone wall, perhaps the owners have roots in the Karoo.
The second with a 'rose' garden fanned out in a wagon wheel with a generous selection of indigenous plants and a couple of focal roses in each bed. The steps which could have been hazardous (a steep drop on one side) neatly resolved with a line of big pots along the corner.
In a cluster development she made skilful use of a medium-sized garden. An oval hedge includes topiary balls. Across the two far corners deep beds. One side with seven silver birches, a small forest. Tiny alcove at the front door with a trompe l'oeil trellis and bubbling pond.
Only two months ago she removed all the small stuff, severely cut back all the shrubs and trees, put in masses of plants - and opened her garden! Granpa's retreat and Granny's corner (with granny sat there knitting, I wonder how she felt about that?)
By now hot, tired, and thirsty - we really enjoyed tea on this shady verandah! I was intrigued by the lipstick pink flowers near the bench. Justicia sub-tropical South American enjoys shade. Stunned by the huge trees with masses of bronze flowers. She told me it's a problem, shedding branches that crash onto the house, dripping nectar that even gets in her HAIR! Grevillea comes from Australia and is an invasive alien for us.
The chameleon's home is Casella which was a magical place. Reminding me of our glimpse of Mount Snowdon between the dark clouds from the avenue of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis garden (the designer of Portmeirion). A long narrow pool with an avenue of trees on one side of the house. Walk thru the bamboo forest (which the Ungardener would like) to another long view across a raised pond with urn, four trees at the corners, with the line of mountain beyond.
Back to reality today as I fed our roses and fruit trees, then tromped around with watering cans to the pots and newly planted. The Ungardener is busy with the raised beds at the bottom of the garden.
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