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Secret to success

Text Gill Cullinan Garden Editor René Slee Photographs Robbert Koene In September 2011 we featured the Schoongezicht garden at Rustenberg in Stellenbosch, a landscape of contrasts with trailing gables, tussling flowerbeds and labyrinths of contoured design. Head gardener Pietman Diener and owner Rozanne Barlow, who transformed this once neglected garden into a sensory paradise of colour, smell and visual gluttony, gave us a few tips on how to maintain the perfect garden. Myths debunked and things to bear in mind:

  • Feed the soil rather than the plant; compost wherever possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut back. With perennial, herbaceous planting you need to cut back, otherwise the garden will become woody.
  • With our perennials (such as salvias and phlox), we do a ‘Chelsea Chop’ pruning, which occurs in the UK in May, but here we do it in December. To prevent a plant from getting too lanky and falling over, chop the plant in half so that it grows firmly. This also means that you won’t need to stake the plants.
  • Make more plants by dividing them.
  • All gardeners tend to overplant. Gardening is about discipline; don’t just pop more plants into a bed.
  • Avoid instant gratification. Decide on where you are going to place a plant before buying it.
  • Don’t stress too much if a bug eats a rose. We only spray our oak trees.
This article was originally featured in the September 2011 issue of House and Leisure.