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Celebrate World Environment Day With Uniquely South African Garden Ideas

This World Environment Day, these garden ideas embrace South Africa’s stunning, natural landscape

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By House & Garden South Africa | June 5, 2024 | Gardens

Every year on 5 June, World Environment Day is celebrated to encourages awareness and action for the protection of the environment. In 2024, World Environment day focuses on land restoration, desertification and drought resilience under the slogan “Our land. Our future”.

South African gardens are no stranger to drought and desertification of our landscapes and gardens. However, South African gardens provide a plethora of avenues to embrace these challenges and natural conditions to produce something that is not only stunning, but inspiring.

Embrace the Natural Diversity of a Sight

This Bishopscourt garden sits on a slope with an established perimeter border of evergreen screening. With the Eastern buttress of Table Mountain covered in predominantly green indigenous forest vegetation, a simple indigenous palette of trees and shrubs such as big num-num, Cape holly and mountain cabbage trees were chosen to merge the slope, property boundary and the view, into one seamless flow.

For more ideas on diversity and eco sensitive landscapes, explore the rest of this Bishopscourt garden here.

With dramatic views of Devils Peak, the Eastern buttress of Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the idea was to remain true to the wild view and invite the wildness into the garden. Photography by Elsa Young.

Create Texture By Layering Plants

Perched against one of the Cape’s most picturesque mountain scapes, this garden near Stellenbosch plays up a dynamic composition of formal and free-flowing design. A former plum orchard, it features an alchemy of bold and recessive shapes, constraint and abundance.

While the bones of the original garden remain, it was altered not only to open to the valley and mountains, but also to echo an indigenous landscape with meadow grasses and painterly flowers.

Explore the rest of this Stellenbosch oasis where plants dance in the breeze here

On a terrace above the swimming pool of this Cape Winelands property, billowy Gaura lindheimeri‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ frame a Dylan Lewis sculpture and the surrounding vistas. Photography by Elsa Young.

How to Maintain a Dry Garden, Especially This Winter

In winter rainfall areas, lawn become impossible without irrigation during the dry summers. Replace them with tightly knitted local groundcovers such as Osteospermums, clumping succulents and low-growing helichrysums interspersed with fragranced Mediterranean herbs like creeping thyme and marjoram which can be walked on sporadically. Alternatively, use indigenous clumping grasses interspersed with pathways and earth or gravel clearings for play and circulation.

Also, consider gravel gardens, which although can be very lovely, especially if finer gravels are used and the plantings are imaginative. Gravel acts as a mulch and conserves water by preventing the soil beneath from drying out as fast. Many plants adore these conditions- try lavenders, rosemary, Pelargoniums, Salvia clevelandii, Verbenas and Malephoras to name just a few.

Explore the rest of this inspiring dry garden by landscape designer Franchesca Watson here

A mix of grasses, thatching reeds and silver helichrysums make beautiful, low-irrigate mix options for dry gardens, Photograph: Elsa Young.

Pursue an African Aesthetic Through Plants

African gardens embrace nature. We are allowed opportunities for terraces that lead from our living spaces directly out and into the garden; communal outdoor spaces for cooking, eating and playing; as well as outdoor sanctuary-like zones for bathing, sleeping and working. Plus, there is almost always a fireplace. African gardens incorporate local materials into the backbone of the garden such as African hardwoods; naturally occurring granite rock and Table Mountain sandstone; a plethora of beautifully-coloured sands and ample clay for sustainable laterite surfaces.

To learn more from landscape designer Franchesca Watson on how to create the ideal local garden aesthetic in your own backyard, see more here.

Keep your garden wild and free, yet still maintained with local garden aesthetic. Image: Supplied.