secret garden: 6 outdoor chill zones to enjoy
Posted: 05 April 2018
A chill zone is not merely a tool for instant garden cool – it’s a daily lifestyle enhancer that draws you out of the house and into your private open airspace more often. Whether a courtyard, a themed nook, a shaded eating area or an outdoor room, ‘the same design sensibilities apply as to indoor spaces – with a few extras’ that take weather into account, says interior designer André Kleynhans. Start by thinking about how and when the space will be used, and who will use it, he advises, adding that bigger is better in smaller spaces. ‘Fewer neutral pieces are preferable to a clutter of smaller items.’ Landscape designer Angela Langley agrees. ‘Don’t be tempted to fill a small space with more features than there’s space for. Include only one medium-size focal point.’ When choosing plants bear in mind how big they’ll get. Alternatively, interior designer Liam Mooney recommends trickery: mirrors behind foliage, for example, can make a space seem more extensive.
the outdoor roomHere, a pair of matching glass doors connects the interior space with a serene private courtyard. ‘When the inside flows seamlessly outside, spaces seem bigger and more considered,’ notes Liam. Keep the choice of colours very simple, Angela says, and introduce trees and plants with fine foliage for softness. ‘Here the eye is drawn from the one entrance to the other by the curving grey gravel pathway and carefully placed beds of plants.’ What to plant Trees Caesalpinia ferrea (leopard tree) Betula pendula (silver birch) Salix caprea (pussy willow)
PlantsAdiantum capillus-veneris (black maidenhair fern) Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’ (emerald fern) Aspidistra elatior (cast-iron plant) Diospyros whyteana (bladdernut) Drimiopsis maculata (little white soldiers) Ophiopogon japonicus (dwarf lilyturf) Lomandra longifolia ‘Tanika’ (Tanika basket grass) Microlepia speluncae (limpleaf fern) Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ (spurflower) and Plectranthus strigosus (dwarf spurflower) for shade Pteris cretica (Cretan brake fern) Viola odorata (sweet violet)
space to hangAn intimate zone can be magicked from a sliver of space. Use stone and wood, low-maintenance plants – and the key feature: a hammock. ‘Muted colours and a limited variety of materials create a restful feeling,’ says landscaper Gordon Stuart. What to plant Bamboo and wisteria (seen above) should be planted where they can be controlled as they can be invasive. On a palisade fence consider using a hardy evergreen such as Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) instead.
TreesHeteropyxis natalensis (lavender tree) Dombeya rotundifolia (wild pear) Halleria lucida (tree fuchsia)
Plants for pots (full sun)Portulacaria afra ‘Nana’ (dwarf spekboom) Euphorbia tirucalli (pencil plant) Strelitzia juncea (crane flower) Limonium perezii (Statice)
Plants for pots (shade)Scadoxus puniceus (paintbrush lily) Veltheimia bracteata (forest lily) Haemanthus albiflos (paintbrush)
rustic chic‘Warm minimalism’ sets the tone in this zone designed for casual country-feel gatherings. Liam advises juxtaposing forms and textures for interest and depth. Add a striking object or two, and soft lighting – such as the fairy lights and tea lights in suspended jam jars here – for a flare of whimsy. Greenery to use Vitis vinifera (common grape vine) is a hardy, deciduous climber. As Angela advises, be sure to keep the vines well watered during dry weather, especially in regions that experience summer rainfall. An alternative creeper is the fast-growing perennial Passiflora edulis (purple granadilla), which can be grown in frost-free, temperate and subtropical climates. It should be thinned and cut back in winter.
zen effectA gravel garden brings an air of Zen to the smallest spaces – and it’s low-maintenance and water-wise to boot. Just keep it simple: ‘Don’t try to cram too much variety into a small space or it’ll look cluttered and bitty,’ says Gordon. Use a paint effect, such as the rusted-wall look, to inject colour, cohesion and interest. What to plant Acer (maple) pairs perfectly with Anigozanthos ‘Yellow Gem’ (red-yellow kangaroo paw) – a drought-resistant Australian plant – and the purple Graptopetalum, which is also exotic but hardy and waterwise.
Indigenous alternativesDierama pendulum (fairybells) Cotyledon orbiculata (pig’s ear) Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (desert cabbage) Aristida junciformis (ngongoni three-awn) Watsonia