Garden, Gardens

Q&A: René Slee

We caught up with House and Leisure’s resident gardening guru René Slee and chatted about what’s hot in the world of gardening. What are the gardening trends right now? Eco-consciousness has been the greatest trend in gardening for quite some time now. Gardening water wise, harvesting grey water and rain water, planting for birds and other wild life, being very careful with the application of fertilizers and poisons, planting edible plants, harvesting the wind and capturing the sun – that is where gardening is going all over the world. Favourite landscape designer? I admire designers who apply eco-principles in a creative way. I admire designers like Patrick Watson who are true gardeners and have a true love for plants. Also, I admire those who use their common sense: not all exotic plants are water guzzlers and every garden does not need river stones. Pet hates in gardening? I detest contrived gardens with badly applied design principles. I hate pink and blue painted garden pots, and Yuccas surrounded by river stones with a bird bath nestling amongst them. Do you see a cross-over between gardening and architecture? Yes, most definitely. New gardens, like new buildings always to a certain extent disturb nature as it is, seeing as we are 'taming' the environment to suit our own needs. The secret is to do so with respect for the earth. Good garden design should agree with the architecture of a structure, it should be an extension of it. Any green tips you have for our readers? Plant things in your area that want to grow there. Plant edible plants and herbs, they also grow very well in pots. Remember that butterflies come from worms, stay away from pesticides.