Peter and Elizabeth’s Garden
Peter was just in the process of retiring when we met him and his wife, Elizabeth. They were moving from their small suburban home in Cape Town out to their more expansive property in the village of Darling.
As often happens with couples, their priorities for the garden were rather different: Peter has a great passion for indigenous flora and Elizabeth loves the nostalgia of exotic annuals and roses with fond memories of her mother’s garden. One of the most important parts of this job was ensuring that both needs were met. We therefore created zones (a permaculture principle) of high maintenance, high water use plantings close to the house where Elizabeth could enjoy her annuals and roses from the front porch and entrance and wilder areas further away where Peter had space for all the interesting species he likes to purchase from botanical gardens.
Together we made the decision to remove the struggling Rhus pendulina trees which had not been pruned well and were stunted in the poor compacted soil, which allowed us to do some earth moving and shape the contours according to Peter’s desire for more emphasized terraces. We could then condition the soil and plant trees which the owners loved and would feel good about caring for.
There is often the question “Should I keep this plant?”. The reluctance to remove vegetation is quite understandable and should of course be weighed up against the purpose it is serving and time it will take for something else to replace it (and we always try to keep as much virgin vegetation as possible). People also ask us if this will upset the nature beings of the property.
The relationship with the earth energies is a dynamic one and there is no standard reply, having said that, we find that destruction and renewal is a natural process and what matters most is our approach – one of love, respect, co-creation, and communication as opposed to violence and unnecessary destruction that ignores the subtle life forces. We find It is most important that you love what is in your garden.
Nature responds to our love. I so often get the sense of effervescent excitement and something like “Ahhhh, FINALLY someone who will work with us, rather than against us!” when I tune in to the subtle realms.
"When I offered Annwen the task of completely redesigning the garden of the Darling house, I knew that she had a hard job to do to meet my and wife’s requirements due to our different ideas of what a garden should be. My wife’s ideas of lots of pretty flowers and my idea of an easy to maintain, waterwise and indigenous garden, seemed to be at opposite ends. I gave Annwen my concept idea and let her use her imagination. Once she presented her concept, we discussed it in detail including walking the site to get a feeling as to the final layout. She was amenable to our ideas and was able to successfully mesh her thoughts into ours, which lead to a harmonious combination of ideas. With Mark’s stone work, we were able to make maximum use of the slight fall across the property and to accentuate the terraces. My wife and I agree that we made the right choice in contracting Annwen and Mark to develop our ideal garden." Peter King