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2011 Gardening Trends

Compiled by Sven Alberding Text Laurian Brown Photographs Francois De Heel/, Supplied In January 2011, HL asked four garden specialists to forecast the year ahead. Do you think they hit the spot? CARRIE LAMBERT Garden designer, Heimo Schulzer Landscapes, Cape TownNOCTURNAL gardens by no means a new idea, from Mahtab Bagh in Delhi to the famed White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. They have intrigued gardeners throughout history; but for today’s professionals, the growing trend towards nocturnal gardens rises from necessity rather than folly. Demanding work hours mean that for many people night-time is the only available refuge and as a designer, one should ensure that when the sun goes down, the garden doesn’t fade into darkness. ‘Garden lighting, when skilfully and modestly implemented, can create a magical setting in very ordinary surroundings. Be warned, though; the most gracious garden can quickly turn Vegas-strip when even slightly overlit.’ As night falls, sounds become more audible and fragrances more powerful. The night garden should take advantage of both, says Carrie. A gently lapping water feature, illuminated with a submersible bulb, can throw a soft light onto walls and vegetation. ‘It’s also important to create comfortable areas for seating and entertaining. Combining these with an element of fire brings great energy to a party; chic bonfire pits are a seriously hot feature in today’s gardens.’ ATHOL MCLAGGAN Itinerant landscaper and gardening guru for Radio 702, Gauteng ‘PRACTICALITY with charm. The shaggy lawn is top of my list for 2011 – more environment-friendly and there’s far less mowing! Clipped, immaculate lawns are no longer a must or even desirable. But if you choose the right kind of grass you can have both, simply by mowing only once or twice a month, or mowing a path through longer grass. Indigenous, water-wise Cynodon species and cultivars lend themselves well to this treatment, as does Shadeover and All Seasons Evergreen, but not thirsty old kikuyu. Grass of different lengths can be used to emphasise different areas or to create patterns. Uncut lawns also allow other plants to come through. Lawn daisies, clover and other plants formerly considered as weeds are now all part of the picture. And if you hate the whole idea, there’s always Astro turf, which, though pricey, is becoming more and more popular.’ Other trends from Athol’s notebook: climbing heritage roses for security – ‘vicious thorns and impenetrable growth make them a lot more effective than razor wire’; cluttered, potted verandas with misting sprays for coolness; and solar-powered boreholes. DONOVAN GILLMAN Landscape designer and founding partnerof RoomtoGrow, Cape Town ‘WATER will be the most important factor, this year and for years to come. Gardeners need to become aware of how precious it is. Water is still underpriced, but in the not-too-distant future it could become as expensive as electricity.’ Increasingly, new gardens and developments will have to be designed around water conservation, says Donovan, not only in appropriate, water-wise planting, but also in rainwater capture and recycling. In Cape Town, new developments must comply with the city’s sustainable urban drainage system criteria, part of a comprehensive programme to conserve water resources, protect natural waterways and prevent flooding. (The water gardens at Century City created by RoomtoGrow are a model example.) Every gardener should aim to reduce runoff and retain as much rainwater as possible on site via storage tanks and permeable surfaces. There should also be provision for use of grey water and recycling. ‘Year-round irrigation of gardens, especially lawns, will become a thing of the past. We need to work with the seasons rather than defy them. In the Cape, that means accepting a dry summer, enjoying a green winter, and planting accordingly.’ WARNO RÜDE Landscape architect at Insite, PretoriaINDIGENOUS, natural-looking gardens,with a mixture of organic and linear elements. That includes environment-friendly design and planting that’s appropriate to the site. In Insite’s award-winning landscaping of the Serengeti golf and wildlife estate on the R21 near OR Tambo airport in Gauteng, agricultural land has been restored to grassland and wetland. Several species of veld grass plus Highveld plants, bulbs and aloes provide year-round colour and interest. ‘We used a lot of water for the first six months to get the planting established, but now it requires no irrigation at all and survives entirely on rainfall.’ That’s because the seasons are allowed to run their course. They create the colour here, with the grasses turning from green to gold to russet and brown, and back to green with the first summer rains. ‘This is not simply a recreation of nature, though. The design element is also important, most evident in the slate paths that offset the grass and add a striking aesthetic feature and textural contrast to the landscape.’ This article was originally published in the January/ February 2011 issue of House and Leisure.