Is Your Garden Ready For Spring?

Is Your Garden Ready For Spring?

Featured in Decor & Design September Edition:

The warmer months are fast approaching and soon we’ll be spending much more time outdoors and enjoying our gardens. If you haven’t really been maintaining the garden through winter, it certainly is time to get it into shape for Spring. We asked the experts from Red Daffodil to share some top gardening tips to help us create a special Spring garden for 2020.

We’ve been blessed with heavy rains over the past few seasons and this means that our Cape dams are quickly filling up. As we approach summer we can therefore begin to plan joyous gardens rather than focusing on what we can save and what we need to let go without irrigation.

With all this water around its vital we make sure the plants are in a position to make use of it as they need nutrients to translate into new growth. Strong plants are also waterwise in the coming summer heat so it’s essential to beef them up now. Start by composting heavily in the beds and actively feed your roses, hydrangeas and lawns with organic fertilisers as these need extra. Pot plants have generally been severely neglected over winter so make sure to give them a boost of Biotrissol or Nitrosol liquid plant food plus a layer of compost.

Filling in gaps from the drought can finally be undertaken. Take note of what did well in the harsh times and make sure you plant more of them. Sticking to a limited palette can sound boring but makes your garden low maintenance and less fussy. Invest in flowering bulbs so you can have a great display later in the season and of course its time to start replenishing herb gardens with things like sweet basil and lettuces.

Trimming and pruning
Maybe winter was too cold to get out and tackle projects so it’s vital you get out there and make sure ornamental grasses have been cleaned up. Start by checking to see where you can lift tree canopies and prune out crossing branches, especially in citrus trees which need air movement through the canopy to fruit properly. Spring flowering fynbos like Confetti bushes and Proteas also benefit from a prune after the flowers fade to prevent them from becoming straggly.

Before the summer heat arrives it’s important to cover the soil with a layer of mulch. This will keep the sun from heating up bare patches, keep moisture in and stop the wind from carrying away your precious topsoil.

The warmer, moist weather brings out snails and other bugs so keep an eye out for any damage and treat quickly with organic products where possible. For example, Ferramol snail bait is a non-poisonous product that can be safely used in the garden.

Trees Stakes & Ties
Check that your stakes and ties are firm but not strangling your trees which are about to have a growth spurt and are at risk from strong summer winds.

If this has been off for a few months you may well need to service it and check that it is fully functional before the heat arrives.

Plant a Tree and Celebrate Spring
Planting a tree is an ideal Spring activity so you can take advantage of its shade in the coming months. Make sure it’s either a fruit tree whose crop you can enjoy, or an indigenous tree that provides sustenance and encourages birds and insects into your garden.

Red Daffodil offers an array of landscaping and garden maintenance services to ensure that your exterior spaces are beautiful, blooming and in great shape. Since 2002 they have been a family-run garden business providing top quality design, landscaping and garden maintenance services in Cape Town and the Western Cape. As they have grown they are proud to be working on new homes for many repeat clients, boutique hotels and guest houses plus exciting new office & retail developments.

Red Daffodil Constantia Pavilion in Cape Town
Woven Cascade

Woven Cascade

A young Norwegian couple relocated to South Africa in 2010 and sourced this property shortly after their arrival. From a single storey house with a swimming pool on ground measuring 753 square metres, the new build now spans a total covered area of 435 square metres.

As the family began to grow, the need to create a custom-designed home became apparent. They had lived on the site for several years prior and were aware of what views they wanted to capture, and which areas could be more wind-free.

Says lead design architect Renato Graca: ‘The clients were key to the project’s success. Their brief was clear, decision making was concise and efficient. They gave us a great deal of freedom in the interpretation of the brief and its execution. This was a pleasure in the otherwise massively complex and frustrating world of building.

‘The site is relatively long but narrow with a significant two-storey height difference between front and rear. So, with this existing slope, we were able to cascade the house and create various levels of intimacy, light and dialogue between both interior and exterior.’

To maximise the views and address the fall of the land, the structure was divided into two sections, which are linked via the central family zone courtyard with adjacent kitchen on the first floor.

By locating all family bedrooms and bathrooms at the rear of the property privacy is created naturally, with the front of the house incorporating the more public spaces for living and entertaining. The central position of the kitchen and courtyard means that the family can be in different areas without being visually separated. The courtyard has been placed on the north side, with the house as a buffer for the strong southeaster winds, which allows it to be used year-round. The pool was also placed on the east-west axis, to provide the longest possible length and boost solar heating.

The vertical steps within the structure allow for unobstructed views from almost every room in the house with multiple terraces for outdoor living and entertaining.

The architects recall: ‘The soil conditions were not as expected, and very deep footings were required, which caused delays in construction; the rear of the house is effectively built on stilts to offset these poor soil conditions.
‘The owners are Scandinavian, have lived all over the world and travel extensively. Their design intent was minimal, involving warm colours and natural materials with timber used for flooring, ceilings, privacy screens, wall panelling and all joinery. These timber elements were complemented with off-shutter concrete, natural stone cladding and Fibonacci tiles to create a palette of timeless, natural materials that age well.’

Project architect René Bakker adds: ‘The design of the house responds in every possible way to its environment and has taken the family’s current and future needs into account. Consisting of a combination of vertical and horizontal focus with two floating roofs above, the main vertical element is the tiled feature wall, which creates a buffer for the southeaster wind, as well as privacy from the neighbouring property.

This wall is disconnected from the rest of the house by a two-storey high window and skylight, which enables the living room on the first floor to enjoy maximum daylight but not direct sun, due to the careful positioning of various overhangs and the use of performance glass. We needed to limit the number of steel posts to exploit views, which required some advanced engineering to achieve.’

Renato Graca: ‘We aimed to achieve a build that meets our standard for modern, minimalist architecture, but also to create an environment for an energetic young family that isn’t restricted by the architectural design. Design and usability needed to be considered equally in the layout and choice of materials.’

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VISI | Oranjezicht Boutique Hotel | Sweet Escape

VISI | Oranjezicht Boutique Hotel | Sweet Escape

Cape Town is one of those places where, if you’re lucky, you can find a property in the suburbs that’s surrounded by nature, has sea views and is located minutes from the city. Camissa House is just that: named after the Khoena word for “the place of sweet waters”, the eight-bedroom boutique hotel is situated in a quiet cul-de-sac neighbouring a green belt. On the fringes of the City Bowl – the residential areas within the amphitheatre created by the mountain range – its back garden is Table Mountain National Park, and you have to tilt your head right back to see the famous eponymous mountain’s summit.

Owner David Ryan, founder and CEO of safari company Rhino Africa, is adept at finding and developing sites that give Mother City visitors a unique private perch from which to explore (or to hide out). He’s the owner of boutique hotel MannaBay, which has occupied two sites in the City Bowl. For the brief to architect Lauren Bolus of Fabian Architects and Make Studio, Ryan used his hospitality insights and experience from building MannaBay and Silvan Safari in Sabi Sand Game Reserve. “We know guests in Cape Town typically spend less time in their bedroom than they would on safari, so we wanted to maximise the public areas of the hotel,” he explains. “We spent a lot of time on creating visually and spatially distinctive public areas – the magnificent breakfast atrium with views of Table Mountain, the rooftop bar, the pool area as well as the cosy indoor bar.”

While most new apartment developments around the country are marketing “hotel-style” luxury and amenities, this hotel offers all of those modern comforts within the well-appointed shared spaces, originality and scale of a home. The former building was, in fact, a six-bedroom house to begin with, which Bolus reconfigured on the same footprint. The result is that no two suites are the same, maximising the panoramic rooftop balcony view or a meditative mountain-retreat perspective. It’s not formulaic, which is reflected in the finishes and interior design, and there’s also an intimacy, making for a memorable stay.

The most distinctive feature of Camissa House is the steel-and-glass atrium that brings Table Mountain in, letting the location and natural surroundings permeate the space. Surrounded by common areas, the atrium – which was an existing outside courtyard – “is the ‘piazza’ of the hotel,” says Bolus. “There are visual links to it through the textured breeze blocks as one circulates through the levels and overlooks it while walking along the passages towards the suites.”

Built on the mountain slopes above a large garage, the hotel’s three floors are terraced, and this effect of layering has been echoed in the internal layout and interior design. Architecturally, there are many sharp edges and clean lines, which are softened by Bolus’s choice of jewel tones and materials that are rich and textural, and that pick up Ryan’s vibrant artworks.

The building takes up most of the plot, so consideration was made to highlight existing surrounding flora and incorporate additional greenery. The atrium houses a tree at its centre, looks onto a rockery and is bordered by planters on the upper galleries. “Plants have been used as a functional aspect of the design, rather than an afterthought,” explains landscaper Chris Maddams. “The planting is intended to be eye-catching, either as a sculptural focal point or to create swathes of colour to brighten the spaces, and to surround guests with the lushness of the ferny kloof and ensure they feel like the hotel belongs high up on the mountain.”

In the Green

In the Green

Thinking about overhauling your garden this spring? Follow these pointers so you don’t outgrow your budget – Words by Jade Taylor Cooke


‘The Western Cape drought made everyone aware of the true cost of our gardens in terms of monthly water bills,’ says Chris Maddams from Red Daffodil Landscaping and Garden Design. However, you don’t have to be living in the Mother City to take advantage of the money-saving benefits of a water-wise garden. ‘Water-wise’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean a desert aesthetic of pea gravel punctuated by the odd lonely succulent, either.

Here are Chris’s tips for a water-smart garden, whether you’re looking to make small, effective changes or you’re starting from scratch:

1. ‘Assess your water supply when planning your garden. Are you creating a zero-addition garden, which must survive on rainfall patterns alone, or do you have access to extra sources, such as rain tanks or groundwater?’

2. ‘Planting the right species of tree in the right position in your garden will create a windbreak, reducing water loss through leaf transpiration. Trees also provide shade from the hot afternoon sun, drastically reducing your garden’s water demands.’

3. ‘Focus on increasing the organic material in your soil, so it absorbs and holds more moisture.’

4. ‘Choose plants that are slow and steady growers.’

5. And, yes, don’t discount succulents completely … ‘The drought has taught me the value of many succulents that I didn’t find too exciting before, I’ve been building hedges and filling pots with spekboom, instead of thirsty buxus, for example.’

A garden is a grand teacher,’ wrote the late, great horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll. ‘It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift.’ This issue, we’re focusing on that last quality: thrift. Because while nothing says ‘spring’ quite like a newly landscaped garden, a revamp can become a rather costly project if you’re not careful.

Chris Maddams shares his advice for staying within a budget while still achieving your ideal garden through the seasons.

We get it: You start planning a garden overhaul and before you know it, you’ve mentally sketched in outdoor entertaining for 16, a koi pond or two, and a labyrinth for all that deep thinking you’re going to get around to doing.

‘It’s easy to create a wish list of features or plants, but that can become overwhelming, especially when space is limited,’ remarks Chris. ‘On the other hand, having a clear understanding of how you want to use your space creates priorities – for example, including play areas versus a kitchen garden, or visually pleasing shrubberies versus a patio. Combine these priorities with the realities of your site and the demands of the plants – for example, shade from walls and trees will influence where lawns will thrive, or perhaps there’s a need for screening trees to provide privacy from a neighbour. This will lead to an organic design process that makes the most of what you already have.’ The only real necessities, according to Chris? ‘Enthusiasm and consistency in your activities are non-negotiables, and will return the best results.’

1. Opt for small, young plants
Full-sized adult plants may instantly create your ideal look, but they can be incredibly pricey. ‘Remember that garden designs play out over years, not simply in 3D,’ says Chris. ‘Patience is the single best way to save money, as buying smaller plants and waiting for them to fill out saves a fortune.’

Don’t cheat and opt for speedy growers to make up for their size, though. ‘We often see people making this mistake,’ says Chris. ‘However, in a few years, that plant is out of control, swamping the space and requiring removal, sending you back to square one – a costly error.’

2. Focus on feeding
‘Allied to opting for smaller plants is prioritising feeding,’ says Chris. ‘Don’t skimp on compost when planting, and make sure you are feeding regularly through the seasons to maximise your garden’s health and growth. Spending on fancy flowers that catch your eye in the nursery, rather than on compost and fertiliser, will cost you in the long run when that high-demand plant fades through lack of food.’

3. Be strategic about pots
Gorgeous, oversized pots instantly elevate a space, but Chris says to place them sparingly if you’re on a budget. ‘I love a beautiful pot as a feature, and adding them to a patio, with trees or creepers, is essential. But getting good pots is expensive, and plants are actually happier in the ground where they can reach down to cooler, moister soil layers, rather than relying on you to water them daily through a hot summer. Paying for a pot, plus potting soil, and then spending your time constantly watering (when the plant would have been happier in the ground) is the opposite of low-maintenance, and an illogical use of a limited budget.’

4. Consider the long-term cost of a lawn
‘Roll-on sods are relatively cheap, so people are often tempted to cover the whole space in lawn,’ says Chris. ‘When looked at over a period of years, however, the maintenance cost of watering and mowing far outweighs that of water-wise planting.’ If you do opt for lawn, be strategic about the species. ‘Shade-tolerant lawns, such as buffalo and berea, are slow-growing, so they cost two to three times more but require less water and mowing, and may therefore be cheaper in the long run,’ says Chris.

5. Avoid annuals
It’s easy to get carried away with the idea of rainbow swathes of colour across your garden. ‘However, while visually pleasing, annuals can be ruinous to your budget as they need seasonal replacement,’ says Chris. ‘A small bit of planning to choose species that flower in different seasons means there is always something brightening up your space.’

6. Shop around for a professional
Unless you’re an old hand at the garden game, you’ll probably want to consult a professional landscaper. Luckily, Chris says this doesn’t necessarily have to blow your budget. ‘You can hire designers to consult with you at an hourly rate before launching into a project, so you aren’t committing to open-ended bills. Many companies also quote for free, so it should be easy to find a firm to fit your budget.’

7. Don’t underestimate mulch
Mulch works seriously hard to help ensure the money you’ve spent on your plantings doesn’t go to waste. ‘We are major cheerleaders for using a bark/compost mix as mulch,’ says Chris. ‘We use it to prevent the top layer of soil from blowing away during windy periods, and to keep the soil below cool and moist. When it rains, we top it up to prevent mud splashing on walls and to ameliorate the effects of harsh downpours. Plus, as mulch breaks down, it provides organic material to feed your soil through the seasons.’

Sure, planting a herb or vegetable garden won’t halve your grocery bill, but every little bit helps. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce your kids to ideas around food production and learning to live more sustainably.

‘Fresh herbs also beat dried ones any day when cooking, in my book,’ says Chris. ‘And, while we don’t all have the patience to wait for onions or potatoes, there are simple things such as cherry tomatoes, spinach and rocket that grow like crazy – you’ll be giving them away. The best advice is to experiment to find out what works in your space. Just remember that anything that produces copious amounts of flowers or fruit needs consistent watering and lots of compost.’

The Slopes of Signal Hill – ProLandscaper March 2017

The Slopes of Signal Hill – ProLandscaper March 2017

At the first site meeting in winter 2014 to discuss the garden for a new house Chris Maddams of Red Daffodil climbed a steep stretch of muddy hillside, covered in rubble & building material overlooking the city of Cape Town. The idea of a lush garden seemed distant. Nevertheless, the plot had a striking location – its aspect provides it with an amazing view across the City Bowl to the façade of Table Mountain, its back garden is the upper slopes of Signal Hill & Lion’s Head peeks over the trees behind. Today the plot has been transformed into a waterwise, fragrant garden, and it is in fact the original hillside that informed so many of the decisions not just of the landscape design but before that the architecture of the house.

Stuart Anderson of Loudon Perry Anderson Architects had wanted to create a garden house – one which blended into its natural surroundings and conformed to the topography to merge with the natural environment rather than competing with its surroundings as a tribute to this plot’s incredible location.

So while Red Daffodil were approached only once building was well underway the importance of the garden in fulfilling the design imperatives and removing the evidence of the building works was vital.

Where the architects had initially envisioned a garden on the natural slope Chris felt that it had been damaged by building works and its gradient represented an erosion risk during the winter rains. To mitigate this he pitched the concept of curved, asymmetrical low stone walls employing the very rock removed in the excavation of the pool. Lightly dressed for neatness but still retaining some roughness these walls created informal terraces for optimal plant growth conditions without compromising the architectural values. The stone terraces were then planted with cascading shrubs and groundcovers to further disguise and distract from the hardscaping so that the walls never became too overt and prevented them from dominating the site.

While having part of a National Park as your backyard may make many of us envious it caused the client to make an unusual request when it came to plant choices – namely that the plants selected be biased towards those with reputations for discouraging snakes. After all riders and walkers on Signal Hill regularly encounter venomous cobras and puff adders.

As someone who studied Botany at UCT & recognising the garden’s proximity to the wild hillside behind Chris was keen to employ a predominantly fynbos palette – so searching for aromatic plants to discourage reptile invaders led to Artemisia afra, Pelargonium spp., Plectranthus neochilis, and Tulbaghia violacea. The latter plants are reported to be used around kraals in the Eastern Cape but they are sour smelling, so to keep them away from the patios a wide band across the top of the property of just these two species was established.

It was also important to keep the plant choices to species that aren’t particularly tall – Chris chose lower growing buchus (Agathosma capensis), succulents (Aloe cooperi) and grasses (Aristida junciformis) as these wouldn’t create deep thickets for snakes to hide, plus it preserves the view of the hill from the lower levels of the house.

It wasn’t only the garden walls that required cascading plants – the architects had sought to further connect the structure to its environment through creating planters on the upstairs patios – off the kitchen/lounge and above the pool. Along with the wall that curves around the lap pool they asked that these be used to create a lush hanging garden effect to swamp the house in greenery. Tropical foliage tends to burn in the heat high on the slopes of Tamboerskloof where fynbos comes into its own, but the pool wall was a fairly shaded space. Adding a line of Cape Holly (Ilex mitis) for privacy added to the cooling effect so this has been planted with hardier indigenous ferns, Cyperus grasses, Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis formosana) and in a nod to the client’s request for yellow & red, Lotus berlothii cascaded over the plasterwork in a matter of months.

From the above its clear the garden isn’t 100% fynbos – exotic species were incorporated for specific reasons – the toad lilies to give a tropical feel with their lush leaves & orchid-like flowers, a large Leopard tree (Caesalpinia ferrea) was inset in the patio paving as the client’s specific request while prostrate rosemary & smaller-growing lavender were added around the lawn to add to the fragrant nature of the garden. Nevertheless, all exotics were only chosen if they could handle the hot conditions of the site in a low rainfall environment.

Today the garden with its mix of fynbos and waterwise planting is an aromatic tumble of textures and seasonal colours that add to the beauty of its surroundings, far removed from its bare & muddy origins.

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