As a gardener, you probably wouldn’t pick a property running the steep length of Wynberg Hill – yet at her home in Bishopscourt, Cape Town, garden writer and former House and Leisure garden editor Ida Raimondo has cultivated a triumph of a terraced garden on a property she initially dismissed.
Having realised over time that a garden with a spectacular view does not require flowers, Ida has focused on subtle colour gradations, especially in foliage, since ‘leaf colours hold the garden together through the seasons’.
Indigenous plants mix with hardy exotics. Bladder-nut and other local shrubs are used for hedges, and the slope down to the second terrace features lavender, clipped plumbago balls, lemon trees in pots, artichokes, Japanese anemones and occasional comfrey and poppies – simple plantings, repeated.
Committed to environmental sustainability and improving soil health, she uses liquid feeds, worm castings, and organic fertilisers such as Talborne Organics for fruit and vegetables in her extensive vegetable garden, whose troughs, tyres and wooden planters occupy the tennis court. From every roof on the property, rain is collected and stored in 14 tanks, used for garden irrigation. No organic material ever leaves the property; it’s chipped and turned into mulch. Bees and compost-making chickens populate the lower garden, but the geese were sent packing after killing her rooster!
Ida’s three essential gardening tips:
Get experts to show you how. Athol McLaggan, who heads Stellenberg’s gardening team, assisted Ida in pruning her lemon trees, and Alex Duigan of Bigfellas Gardens helped her neaten the hedge down the steps.
Micro-organisms boost soil health. Guided by Sarchen Bassingthwaighte Ida drenches the plant with endomycorrhizae and other beneficial micro-organisms which help plant roots absorb nutrients more readily.
Worm castings really work. ‘Worm juice is one thing, but the castings are magical. I use them for any plant that is ill.’
Read the full article on page 100 of the June 2015 issue.
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