Project Description

Mitchell Garden

Metropical garden

Situated in a sandy and windy suburb of Cape Town, this medium sized garden posed a couple of challenges.

A year ago, the clients paid a landscaper to install their dream garden. Unfortunately, most of the plants died. Our brief was to create a tropical style garden that would actually survive. The pressure was on! Plant, die, and repeat was not an option. The garden is irrigated with well point water so we immediately had the water and the soil tested. The results indicated high levels of chloride and salt which also affected the soil conditions.

Desalination by Reverse Osmosis is the only way to improve the quality of saline water but is very expensive. So, we did the next best thing by adding liberal amounts of compost, mulch and other soil conditioners during initial soil preparation and subsequently during the follow-up maintenance visit. This helped to offset the detrimental effects of the sodium and improve the water holding capabilities of the soil.

Still, the conditions for planting were not ideal so we chose our plants carefully. There is no sure plant list to follow, some plants will either adapt or live while others will shrivel up and die. Fortunately, a lot of the palm species are tolerant to the salty water. Succulents were added for their tolerance, and year-round interest. Plants are grouped close to create the illusion of a thick tropical jungle blurring the lines between boundary walls and nature.

The client requested seasonal colour, however winter shade limited our options. With some trial and error Begonias, Asparagus, Clivias & Heuchera came out tops and now provide amply seasonal colour. The original lawn made way for a boma and low maintenance artificial lawn. The clients favourite potted succulent collection needed an alternative backdrop to the dull boundary wall, so we masked it with beautiful thin cut railway sleepers.