There’s no certainty in gardening. That’s what I love about it!

I think garden design is an ephemeral art. I aim to create layered effects with plants, wood and other elemental materials, but the force of nature is often stronger than my will and I am constantly reminded that I’m merely a pawn on nature’s chessboard.

 

Potager recently designed a garden which appeared to be a simple project, yet proved to be a test of our mettle. The passing of years had made this garden a Fort Knox of sorts. Yuccas, palms, bamboo and adamantine soil had carved its way into the foundation of the earth making it nearly impossible to excavate tenacious roots and unyielding, compacted soil.

 


The garden before bedlam struck
The garden before bedlam struck

 

Day after day, my team of sinewy, young men swung their pick-axes, hauling 80-tons of soil and debris out of the garden. It was hard labour – no cranes or front end loaders – just back-breaking-man-power.

 

The existing garden was raised a metre above ground level  and we needed to remove the tiled retainer wall and build another retainer wall to protect the foundations. We waterproofed and painted all the boundary walls in a gorgeous Plascon shade of French Clay and cut electrical chasings into the wall pillars. New irrigation was laid prior to planting. 

Finally, we were left with bare ground, newly nourished with loam and compost.


We created extravagant plantings of clematis, lavender, petrea, durante, leopard trees (caesalpinia ferrea), salvia evolution, iceberg roses and David Austin’s fragrant Sharifa Asma roses. The end result - a gentle canvass of ivory, chartreuse, blush, Byzantium and absinthe.    

5 days old
5 days old

We built a water feature from bricks and concrete, with curvaceous rusted spouts. We transformed mundane store-bought lanterns into retro antiquities. We planted rolls of fresh Kikuyu grass and made a statement bed border using American oak sleepers. 

We did a whole lot more including a vegetable garden and balcony container garden but that's a story for another day.