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A romance of colour and texture rule in this dreamy Cape garden

A boundless garden designed by Franchesca Watson seems to float above the eastern slopes of Table Mountain

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By Heidi Bertish  | February 11, 2022 | Gardens

Along the wide, tree-lined avenues of the Cape’s southern suburbs, just below the local botanical treasure that is Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, lies a sweeping garden, so lightly planted with feathery grasses, tall spires, ornamental perennials and lacy umbels, that the experience of it is more like being surrounded by drifts of gently floating clouds, than in a domesticated, green space.

Photography Heidi Bertish

Key to its character is landscape designer Franchesca Watson’s response to the contemporary architecture of the house, and her intention to open it up to the spectacular views of Table Mountain. In line with her vision, the homeowner yearned to create a contemporary, romantic space reminiscent of the Highveld garden of his childhood home, and so, in many ways, it worked to incorporate a moving palette of grasses and plant varieties that shift and sway in the wind.

Photography Heidi Bertish

The architecture allowed the garden to generously wrap the building on all sides, presenting an opportunity for contained, gardened courtyards and private, green spaces that visually connect to the interiors through floor-to-ceiling windows. These tranquil enclaves are detailed with a collection of wispy grasses, delicate pelargoniums, penstemon spires, pink bergenia and carpeting Ajuga repens.

Photography Heidi Bertish

The garden pivots around the juxtaposition of intimate enclosure, open space and the seamless flow between the two. The main garden – designed around the idea of laid-back living, long lunches and outdoor summer entertaining – boasts an open lawn, fringed by willowy planting that doubles as a gauzy, planted screen to the swimming pool. Challenging level changes softened by gently curving lawned stairs edged in local sandstone make for easy transition between upper and lower areas.

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