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.