Mont Pellier and Artemis House - gardens in Franschhoek
By Diana Studer
- 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two owls guard the entrance to the house.
The frogs at the pond are each glazed with their own colours and patterns.
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