Mermaid with A Hat, or mushrooms and brooms with Monty Don
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
November 2008 there were open gardens in Franschhoek (23rd to 25th October 2015). One of those lovely Western Cape town's awash in wine estates and tourists. Also beautiful gardens, as we discovered. I have heard of Monty Don. We haven't seen the TV programme, or read the book. But, I did look up his 'Around the World in 80 Gardens'. Any gardener who comes to South Africa goes to Kirstenbosch, an award-winning botanical garden. Fynbos (proteas, ericas, restios and bulbs) with the back of the Table Mountain chain as borrowed scenery.
This one of Monty Don's 80, is the home of garden designer Henk Scholtz (not on the 2015 list). A medium sized town garden, with the most wonderful quirky sense of humour. And handcrafted art works, which give you pause. Why? Are there mushrooms growing out of the very top of that topiaried bush?! (Remember. It is sunny and hot. WHY are there Mushrooms?!) Then we get chatting to another visitor. First thing SHE saw, was the mushrooms. Her husband is a mushroom farmer, in Natal. Who explained that mushroom farming is as hard as dairy farming. So I politely say, I can understand milking cows. But mushrooms? Ah, he explained. First you have to harvest them every day. And then. You have to market them. (Look closely - those mushrooms are limpet shells, on sticks!)
Beautiful topiary hedge is Helichrysum. Disparagingly referred to as something the Khoisan used as bedding. It does smell delicious (a mild aromatic curry), like Heidi sleeping on her hay bed of flowers in the Alps. Look how spectacularly, over the top, luscious this is. I could sleep most beautifully on that bed! A burgundy (Echevieria?) succulent planted in a rusty old colander, with the metal table painted in a singing harmonious violet. Two plain white chairs. Some brick paving. And I stand there open mouthed, in wonder, at simple perfection.
Meet the mermaid with the Hat. A discarded shop window model. Dressed in an Ascot - Met - Durban July hat. A tail whose scales are overlapping, quite rusted, tin can lids, with those circular rings making the scales come to life. She's got a long way to 'swim' to the sea from Franschhoek.
Features. Focal points. Sculpture. Garden art. South Africans use our restios, with a wooden handle, to make garden brooms. Collect a few. Turn them upside down. Plant a group in the garden, just inside the front gate.
In the centre of the spiral within a mosaic square against a singing Majorelle Marrakech Moroccan blue wall, pride of place goes to Kumara plicatilis the fan aloe, the only aloe which occurs in the mediterranean fynbos climate (and in my Karoo Koppie at False Bay). To the side the very simplest cheapest garden gate made magic with beach churned shells.
Pictures from 2011 at Driftwood Ramblings
and May 2015 with The Paintbox Garden from Canada
(Henk Scholtz is Monty Don's choice, mine is Mont Pellier)
Blue and white in circles at La Rive guest house garden.
Open again in 2015.
Open again in 2015.
Topiary at De Villiers Street. Somehow to replicate this combination of (his) green vista with (my) airiness.
Klein Champagne. Imagine, your own lake, with a rowing boat!
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Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer
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