Carel’s Questionnaire

Questionnaire  Carel

Why do you garden?

Some men like rugby or hanging out in man-caves – I find gardening much more interesting. I get my adrenaline rush from watching plants grow and observing small animals in the garden.

Where is your garden?

Constantia Hills

What is the size of your garden?

Smallish; total stand size 1500 m2 less building and paving leaves about 1000 m2.

When did you start gardening?

Other than doing garden chores like mowing the lawn and trimming edges, in December 2011.

Who or what inspired you to start gardening?

My late mother was a life-long keen gardener – I expect I got the temperament from her.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

If you let yourself be disappointed by plants not growing according to your expectations gardening would be a sorry affair. If a plant languishes, pull it out and replace it with something that feels like growing.

What plant has made you the happiest?

The gloriosa superba – Flame lily -that I found growing over a garden bench; not remembering having planted it there.

 

What do you love about your garden right now?

The sense of just waiting for spring to break into a growth spurt again.

 

What do you feed your garden?  How often do you feed ?

I maintain a thick layer of mulch and work in compost at all possible occasions. From time to time I dispense trace elements to plants that look like they need it.

How often are you out in the garden ….. enjoying it …..and working in it ?

I work from home and wander through the garden ever hour or two, keen to see if anything has grown since the last time, always clipping at plants and picking up cement chips left by the builder.

Do you have ‘help’ in the garden      –Maulana – he’s from Malawi, a hard worker and positive person.

Have you had any problems you have had to overcome….soil…..environmental issues?

Sandy, fine soil – one has to become a soil farmer before you can be successful with the plants.

Soil contamination with builders’ rubble. If I ever build again I will write into the builder’s contract that there will not be a speck of cement remaining when the work is complete.

How often do you garden?

Daily and double time over week-ends.

What do you enjoy doing in the garden the most?

Watching it grow and visualizing new shapes, colours and perspectives that I can try out.

What do you dislike doing in the garden?

I only do the things I enjoy in the garden. Long-suffering Maulana picks up and fixes up after me. Much like a spoilt, ADD child. (Which I am – really)

Which are your favourite plants …..flowers, native or ornamental ?

All of the above.

Are there any plants you really dislike?

No. I also have books on ‘problem plants’ and enjoy getting to understand why they are considered problematic.

Do you have a favourite garden writer or personality?

No

Have you ever been inspired by any author, garden writer or landscaper?

I have learnt from and been inspired by all of the professionals that I have dealt with. They help to see other possibilities.

Have you been helped by a landscaper or friends?

All the time.

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be?

I have seen many beautiful gardens, locally and abroad, but Kirstenbosch remains a favourite.

Do you have a borehole? Have you made any particular move to become more water wise ?

I do have a good borehole and irrigation. All run-off from the roof soaks directly into the garden – nothing runs into the storm water system.

If you could change just one thing in your garden, what would it be ?

I would like to do it all over again; twice the size with four times the budget.

Is there anybody you would like to credit for helping you with your garden?

My wife, June, for tolerating my gardening OCD.

My gardener, Maulana.

And a range of gardening professionals who helped me on my gardening journey:

Cara Smith

Alan Dawson

Russel Trope.

Marijke Honig

Philip Botha.

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Gardener Q&A – Colleen

Here is the last of our five gardener interviews, where we ask the owners of each of this year’s open gardens to give us a sense of why they garden, and what their garden means to them.

Colleen loves (LOVES) roses. And hates stinkbugs. And gives her Bergvliet garden the best food of all: love.

It shows.

Why do you garden?

I garden because it feeds my soul. I love being surrounded by nature and find a special tranquility in my garden. I see it as an extension of me!

Where is your garden?

In Bergvliet.

What size is your garden?

The property is just over 1000 square metres.

When did you start to garden?

When I got married and was staying in a rented bottom-storey flat, I planted marigolds.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

I think my Mom, she always enjoyed gardening.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

Probably a bean in cottonwool at school!

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

Yes, when they don’t do well!

What plant has made you happiest?

Definitely roses, my favourite by far. Their beauty, smell and they flower repeatedly. I am addicted to buying them!

colleens garden 040

What do you love about your garden right now?

The tumbling colours and vibrancy of new growth.

What do you feed your garden?

Ludwig’s Vigorosa, 3:1:5, organic pellets and lots and lots of love.

How often do you garden?

I potter everyday.

colleens garden 054

What is the garden chore you look forward to?

Picking my roses and spinach!

What is your least favourite garden chore?

Spraying and squishing stinkbugs!

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Where would you like to garden, if you could garden anywhere?

I wouldn’t want to garden anywhere else.

What would you like to grow, that you can’t?

Nothing comes to mind, I am able to grow most things.

Basket DSC_1850 (1)

Food, flowers, native or ornamental?

Definitely flowers.

Favourite gardening personality?

Una van den Spuy

What plants do you dislike?

Weeds!

Would you like more sun or more shade?

I have enough of both.

pebbles in garden

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be?

I’d love to go to the Chelsea Flower Show and any English gardens.

What would you like people to know about gardening?

How wonderfully inspiring it can be creating beauty around your home and giving pleasure to passers by!

Photos: Marianne Alexander, Saskia Taylor

Gardener Q&A – Carol

spring tree

Picture having an afternoon tea under this tree…

Here is the fourth in our series of five interviews with the owners of each of the five gardens that will be open to the public for Open Gardens Constantia on November 14th and 15th.

Advance tickets are R50: that works out to just R10 per garden. Hard to beat. Throw in the lovely tea that will be served in Carol’s garden on her sweeping lawns and flower-covered patios…book the dates!

Buying in advance also helps us with the very-important matter of knowing how many teas and coffees will be needed and…HOW MUCH CAKE (and how many sandwiches, but frankly, isn’t the cake more important?). For advance tickets please visit the link to our Ticket Page for a list of vendors, and our email address (members of the three garden clubs will have tickets available for purchase directly from them, too).

Tickets can also be bought on the day at a garden gate, for R60 (address to follow, please stay tuned to this blog and Facebook, for updates).

Here’s Carol:

Why do you garden?

I garden for pleasure, and for the results that I see. I enjoy vegetable gardening as it is so worthwhile eating what one has produced, and knowing that it is organic.

Where is your garden?

Constantia.

What size is your garden?

One acre.

When did you start to garden?

About 35 years ago.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

My parents and parents-in-law.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

I love fuchsias, but am not very good at looking after them properly, and so they often die on me. My fault entirely!

What plant has made you happiest?

At the moment it has to be my Tree Fuchsia.

What do you love about your garden right now?

I love that it is looking better than it ever has before!

What do you feed your garden?

Mostly organic fertilizers like Talborne [one of OGC’s sponsors] and seaweed based solutions.

geranium maderense

How often do you garden?

At the moment, everyday!

What is the garden chore you look forward to?

I don’t look forward to any chore!

What is your least favourite garden chore?

Weeding.

Where would you like to garden, if you could garden anywhere?

In my new home, not yet found, which has a much smaller garden!

What would you like to grow, that you can’t?

More fuchsias.

open garrdens constantia

Food, flowers, native or ornamental?

All love them all. I find food gardening the most satisfying and relevant

Your favourite garden writer, or personality?

I don’t have one.

What plants do you dislike?

None, really. My least favourite plants are cacti [Julie doesn’t like them, either].

Would you like more sun or more shade?

I’m happy with what I have.

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be? 

I have just seen Monet’s garden in Giverny, which was one I’d always wanted to see, and it didn’t disappoint.

What would you like people to know about gardening?

I think that anyone who reads this blog will know MUCH more about gardening than I ever will!

Photos: Saskia Taylor

Gardener Q & A – Julie

coleonema hedge

This is the third in our series of five Gardener Q&A’s, where we look behind the scenes of the open gardens and introduce you to the owners, to find out what makes them tick, horticulturally.

Julie belongs to the Flourish Garden Club, one of the three garden clubs that collaborate to produce Open Gardens Constantia every two years, where five private gardens are opened for two days to the public (November 14th and 15th, this year). Funds raised are donated to Abalimi Bezekhaya and Soil for Life.

Julie’s career requires a lot of travel, and when she is not working, she is a wife and mom. She is helped in the garden by her gardener, Olofati (who prefers that his last name not be used).

Why do you garden?

Gardening gives me the opportunity to express my creativity, which is something not easily afforded in my daily job as a Finance professional. Gardening is also my time to relax, re-energise and bring thoughtful perspective to a busy life.

Where is your garden?

In Bergvliet, in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.

What size is your garden?

Average suburban garden – about 1200 square metres.

When did you start to garden?

I started gardening when I moved into my first home in 2004. Although this was a small properly, it had the challenges of strong winds, sandy soil and a sloping site to contend with.

garden swing

Who or what inspired you to garden?

I grew up experiencing both my parents working in the garden most weekends and seeing our various gardens being transformed from bare landscapes into beautiful and tranquil spaces to relax. The more recent interior design emphasis of bringing the garden into the home has also inspired me to create a garden space that is an extension of our home where the family can spend time together.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

This would have been a hyacinth bulb grown in a vase when I was a child.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

It is probably more a case of how have I disappointed a plant? I love orchids, but have just not managed to find the right conditions in my home for them to thrive – I persevere though!

constantia open gardens

What plant has made you happiest?

Freesias have always been my favourite flower, not only because of their scent but as they are always to first flower to signify spring and that my birthday is only a week away.

What do you love about your garden right now?

I love that the garden is just bursting with new growth after all the rain we have had this spring. It is full of the promise of beautiful summer ahead.

What do you feed your garden?

I alternate between mushroom and Reliance compost twice a year and feed in between with liquid fertilizers Seagrow and Kelpak .

[Reliance is also one of OGC’s sponsors.]

How often do you garden?

A few hours on the weekend.

What is the garden chore you look forward to?

I love giving the garden a good trim as this helps me to appreciate each plant individually, keeps the garden neat and gives a good platform for new growth the following season

What is your least favourite garden chore?

Having to spray my roses or weed the lawn.

Where would you like to garden, if you could garden anywhere?

As we are really spoilt with our climate in South Africa I would love to move into the countryside with the backdrop of a beautiful mountain and lots of trees.

What would you like to grow, that you can’t?

I find Azaleas really striking, but have such sandy soil making it difficult to grow them. I would also love to grow Hostas as I love the look of their broad lush leaves and Hellebores which I appreciate for their unusual range of colours.

Food, flowers, native or ornamental?

Food and ornamental

paul bangay 4[Photo: Paul Bangay]

Your favourite garden writer, or personality?

Paul Bangay for the simplicity, structure and symmetry in his garden design to which I aspire to and my mother of course who’s passion for gardening and plants is inspirational, and for all the wonderful surprise plants she leaves on my doorstep.

[Julie’s mom is garden writer Marianne Alexander, who belongs to the Constantia Valley Garden Club]

What plants do you dislike?

Nothing comes to mind, mmm, perhaps a cactus.

Would you like more sun or more shade? More of both as that would mean I have a bigger garden.

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be?

Kew gardens of which I have heard so much. This would be my first stop after my visit to Chelsea Flower Show.

What would you like people to know about gardening?

Gardening provides a wonderful gift of connecting with the earth and oneself at the same time. It gives one the space to be creative, teaches one patience, respect for nature and brings reward in the most surprising ways.

“To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, and plant seeds, and watch their renewal of life – this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do” – Charles Dudley Warner

Visit our previous gardener interviews:

Rosemarie

Nicholas

Photo credits: Julie Alexander and Craig Lillie

Gardener Q & A – Nicholas

ogc roses

Nicholas Walker’s Meadowridge garden is one of five that will be open to the public on November 14th and 15th. Ticket proceeds are donated to two local not-for-profits: Abalimi bezekhaya and Soil for Life.

Over the next few weeks we will introduce the owners of the open gardens on the blog, via this Q & A session, to allow visitors a better appreciation of what makes them and their gardens grow.

Where is your garden?

Meadowridge

What size is your garden?

+/- 600sqm

When did you start to garden?

When I got married 33 years ago.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

My parents were keen gardeners and had a very beautiful garden.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

The first plant I remember planting was a cork oak (Quercus suber) which was given to us as an engagement present.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

I cannot remember being disappointed by any plant but disappointed with myself when a plant I have planted dies but luckily I have a high success rate these days.

What plant has made you happiest?

I get a lot of joy out of seeing new growth on all my plants as my garden matures.

What do you love about your garden right now?

Seeing it come to life after winter and the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of my work in it.

ogc compost

What do you feed your garden?

I am a great believer in lots of compost [above!] and folio feeding every two weeks with Kelpak and Nitrosol, organic pellets and a little chemical fertilizer. I only use 3:1:5. If one does not feed one’s garden regularly one cannot expect to have a flourishing garden.

How often do you garden?

I don’t have any assistance in my garden so I have to do whatever I feel needs to be done. So the time spent depends on the time of the year. Recently I have been spent more than 20 hours a week in the garden.

What is your least favourite garden chore?

Even the chores I least like doing are not so bad if I don’t do hours of it at any one time. I just enjoy been in my garden.

Where would you like to garden, if you could garden anywhere?

I have only lived in Cape Town and only know about gardening in Cape Town and am not planning to move .

What would you like to grow, that you can’t?

A forest. I can’t because I don’t have the space.

water feature shade garden

Would you like more sun or more shade?

I have slowly developed a good balance of sun and shade in my garden.

If you could visit just one garden, where would it be?

Stellenberg in Kenilworth and Water Oak Farm, in Constantia.

Why do you garden?

I started gardening because I like to live in a beautiful environment, so when I got married I had to start gardening, which become a passion, and now my business (Let’s Garden).

Photo credits: Nicholas Walker and Family

Gardener Q & A – Rosemarie

open gardens constantia 2014

Every Wednesday, over the next five weeks, we’ll publish an interview with one of our five open gardeners, in preparation for our open garden days on November 14th and 15th.

Every garden is a reflection of its owner’s personality, sensibilities and outlook on life. While looking carefully at a garden can allow you to read a lot between the lines, we think introducing the gardeners themselves will make your visit to their gardens even more rewarding.

rosemarie open gardens constantia

Gardener Q&A with Rosemarie van der Pas:

Why do you garden?

I love the outdoors and my garden is my little paradise.

Where is your garden?

In Constantia, next to Buitenverwachting wine farm.

What size is your garden?

One acre.

vegetable garden

When did you start to garden?

Many years ago in Sasolburg – northern Free State.

Who or what inspired you to garden?

We bought a house which had a lovely garden, and we kept it beautiful.

Do you remember the first plant you grew?

Yes – I had dahlias and they grew so well there [in Sasolburg] in the sandy soil.

Has a plant ever disappointed you?

Not really.

viola

What plant has made you happiest?

The snowdrops in this garden, and last week there was the tiniest viola which climbed the wall; maybe it wanted to see what the rest of the world looked like!

What do you love about your garden right now?

It is spring, everything is growing and the birds are so happy. The new green on the trees is so fresh and all the new plantings love their new home.

eco pool open gardens constantia

What do you feed your garden?

Natural fertilizers. We try to be organic as much as we can (see the swimming pond above, no chlorine or other chemicals).

chameleon

How often do you garden?

I have a gardener. Her name is Heather Krumm and she has a business called Earthbound. She designed the changes in the garden 7 years ago. She and her crew have been looking after the garden ever since.

I am not a hands on gardener anymore but I hope I am a good manager!

plectranthus

Where would you like to garden, if you could garden anywhere?

That’s difficult to answer as my part of the valley is perfect.

What would you like to grow, that you can’t?

Root vegetables were never a big success

pineapple lilies

Food, flowers, native or ornamental?

Indigenous, but also lots of flowers with colour in the sunny spots. And trees – my love for trees grew when we lived in Secunda, a new town in Mpumalanga, and there were no trees at all, and growing them was very difficult!

Your favourite garden writer, or personality?

Una van der Spuy

What plants do you dislike?

Gladioli, poor things. They are just too stiff and formal. And maybe Black Eyed Susan, because she becomes very invasive, but she is pretty.

Would you like more sun or more shade?

I am so lucky, we have it all, deep shade, and very sunny and in between as well.

If you could visit just one garden, what would it be? (Formal, informal, suburban, famous, or wild – like a part of the mountain.)

Informal and wild. And my favorite formal garden is Arduaine, in Scotland

What would you like people to know about gardening?

For me my garden is therapeutic, and I would like to share that with other gardeners.

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Come and enjoy some garden therapy and see how Rosemarie’s vegetable garden has progressed, on November 14th and 15th.

Photo credits: Rosemarie van der Pas, Marianne Alexander.