A year and almost 2 months after our move to Napier we are virtually finished with refurbishing the house and landscaping a garden. A few days ago the gravel came in. Looks far better this way. Just adding few minor items and we can fully focus on our work again.
We had a surprise visit a few days ago. Tommy Ngwenya is a special personality. A few years ago he started a garden service in Stanford. Before our move to Napier we sold a surplus of plants under the condition that we supervised the landscaping of a few new gardens. That’s where Tommy came in. It was a pleasure to work with such a natural gifted gardener who kisses every plant ‘good luck’ when he plants them (even cacti) and performs a traditional rain dance (see picture) when the plants are in. He was even on national TV with it (second picture. And his son (now an apprentice) planted the first tree (a Chorizia Specioza or Kapok Tree; see third picture) on our premises in Napier. At the time he worked with two staff; a year later this number has grown to nine. The fourth picture was shot at Haes Farm just outside Stanford.
A few years ago we landscaped a no-extra-water-needed garden in the outskirts of Stanford. When we recently announced that we are selling the large feature plants in our garden the owners approached us for another round. This time we worked closely together with Tommy Ngwenya and, oh boy, what a delight to work with such a passionate personality. Tommy grew up in J’burg and as many South Africans he was troubled with a lack of funds to study at the university. So he worked his buds off for a distance learning study at UNISA (kind of open university) which was more or less within his reach. And he made it by sheer hard work and perseverance. Tommy loves plants; he even kisses them ‘good luck’ after planting. Since yesterday he also knows how to kiss a cactus. His Garden Service is called ‘Tommy & Sons’. His sons are still young but the naming has a reason: “I want them to be better off than me when I was young”.
Within the set time frame we re-landscaped a large garden (partly a kind of ‘forest garden’). A few thousand (re-)plantings, numerous divisions, new plant material from our own stock including a cycad (with permit), weeding and mulching, etc.. Worked with the own garden staff of the client for they have to maintain the garden. Always nice to hear: “Please send us the invoice” …. It was the second major (we only do ‘majors’) garden in a few months.
The other challenge (second photo gallery) was a minimalistic succulent/desert garden that flows over in a ‘fynbos’ landscape.
Since last week I’m involved in the re-landscaping of a garden of approx. 2.5 acres (1 hectare) at a guesthouse/restaurant/wedding venue. Many ‘recommended’ landscapers, known with standard house gardens came, saw and did not have much idea how to handle such a project. Co-incidentally the owners came to have a look into our small garden and the same day I went to see theirs and told them how I would handle a project like this. They thought about it, asked if I could act as consultant/supervisor and the costs of it. With only two of their own staff (they have to maintain the garden at the end) we uprooted thousands of plants , regrouped them; pruned (some topiary) filled up the empty spaces ‘et voila’; the end of this week (after 10 working days) the job will be more or less finished. And the garden is now also weed free. Honestly; in 15 years South Africa it was the first time I worked with gardeners who not only work but are also extremely dedicated to do their job properly. Not a job where five people are watching the one working … 😉
A few pictures (with thanks to James and Gray; you guys are fabulous!!!)
Every now and then we do an upmarket landscaping project with spin off from our garden. Clients are expected to actively participate in the work; just to get the ‘succulent feeling’. We love landscaping minimalism gardens. But not too often… ;). This garden took a few months of preparation, including extensive discussions with the owner of this estate. We almost finished our work; just waiting for another 500 square meter root guard and the gravel that goes on top of it.
A few months ago we were awarded with the assignment for a truly water wise minimalist garden that hardly needs any maintenance. The owners are not gardeners but like to enjoy the outdoor in their spare time off. The garden, exclusive the house measures around 700 square meters which we leveled, than put a root cloth on it plus a layer of 10 cm gravel. The sides are bordered with wood logs and a strip of one meter with Diamondia grass. Also the parking spaces and the drive way (filled with wood chips) are bordered with wooden logs. Around this garden we planted some indigenous aloes amongst the existing fynbos. All materials are sourced locally (wood logs and chips virtually on the spot).