TEXT LYNNE YATES PHOTOGRAPHS LOREN SHIRLEY-CARR
It was during the renovation of their traditional Westcliff, Jo’burg, house, that the owners realised that, in order for the garden to complement the new style of the house, it would have to undergo a similar remodelling. Set on the rocky slopes of Westcliff, the garden consisted of a series of courtyards shut
off from each other by gates and high stone walls. “We wanted more open space where our children and the dogs could play,” they explain.
Turning to landscape designer Gregory Mark, they asked him to reconfigure the layout, removing some walls to establish open lawned spaces. “The site and the house itself had plenty of charm, and part of the brief was to retain the original character. Fortunately, I was involved during the renovation so I could ensure that from the start, the design of the garden would work with the house,” recalls Gregory.
The garden had a number of good features including the mellow Westcliff stone, which the owners wanted to keep. “The first step was to knock down some of the walls and create level flowing areas so that the house could breathe,” explains Gregory. “Unfortunately, we hit Westcliff bedrock. After a week of acid breaking and chipping, we only managed to remove enough loose rock to build a path around the house and we couldn’t extend the level area as far as we wanted.” But he turned this into an opportunity and built a raised water feature against a retaining wall and linked the front section to the back with a timber walkway and steps.
Gregory reveals that the hardest part of the project was limiting the variety of plants as both he and the owners are keen plant lovers. “We chose a simple green and white palette as this suits the style of the house, creates a sense of calm and makes the garden appear larger,” says Gregory. Boston ivy softens the stone walls while star jasmine frames the entrance to the summerhouse. He established straight lines and geometric shapes, squaring off beds and edging lawns with viburnum and buxus hedges, clipped at different heights for contrast. Raised stone clad beds against the boundary walls were planted with wild olives, Syzygium paniculatum and white arums.
To give this classic garden a
contemporary look, landscape
designer Gregory Mark laid concrete
pavers in geometric shapes and
squared off the edges of the beds.
Buxus hedges are contrasted with soft plantings of salvia, angelonia and
Concrete pavers interplanted with mondo grass guide the way to the front door, which is framed by two Lagerstroemia indica.
Timber steps lead up to a decked
walkway that connects the front and
Three modern charcoal bowls filled with dwarf Gardenia ‘Radicans’ appear to float above a clipped hedge of Viburnum odoratissimum.
A Lutyensstyle bench on the terrace overlooks the garden.
When bedrock prevented them from levelling the entire area, Gregory built a raised water feature along the side
of a retaining wall.
Special care was taken to ensure that the ornamentation such as pots and
pathways complemented the style and architecture. Large concrete pavers
interplanted with mondo grass lead to the front door.
This is framed by two pride of India (Lagerstroemia indica) brought in by crane. “Less is so much more in this case,” says Gregory. Oversized contemporary bowls filled with dwarf gardenia flank the gate to the garden and nearby, a Lutyens-style bench was placed on a raised terrace providing a view of the garden and the sunset.
Charcoal planters and strong lines give this classic property a modern twist.
The shade walk is made up of informal plantings of toad lily, Viola odorata and arums. Boston ivy adorns the wall while a Japanese maple and a birdbath draw the eye at the end of the path.
‘Eureka’ lemon trees in square planters frame a set of French doors.