Inspired by the Huntington Gardens in Los Angeles, a Cape garden has been lovingly transformed into a vibrant cornucopia of cactus and succulent species.
A succulent and cactus garden revamp
800 square metres
Open area with a predominantly easterly position.
A base layer of clay with additional silica sand and compost mix
Creating a succulent garden came about quite by accident really,’ says homeowner and passionate gardener Wendy Floquet of her 800 square metre succulent garden. One of the many rooms within her 2.4-hectare outdoor space in the Constantia Winelands. On completion of building the family homestead in 2001, the Floquets discovered a few rather tatty aloes along the eastern side of the property. Whilst Wendy began developing the garden around the house, the area to the east and the aloes lay largely dormant and unutilised. Years passed and it was only after a recent visit to the Huntington Gardens in Los Angeles, where Wendy was particularly struck by the cactus and aloe display, that she knew what she wanted to create.
Initially, the site was framed by trees, wild peaches and a variety of insignificant shrubs and fynbos. ‘It was the forgotten space,’ says Wendy. Most of the trees, some lawn and all plants were removed and the area transformed with the help of Green Cube Landscapes and Gardens. Mounds of earth introduced a gentle typography and the additional height worked to enhance the display of cactus and succulent specimens. To ensure good drainage, crucial for happy succulents, sand was added to the base layer of clay, mounds were layered with silica sand and the existing irrigation was removed. With natural flair and a keen eye for combining plants, Wendy’s planting approach was to select larger aloe and cactus specimens to be framed by smaller varieties. The garden now abounds with rich combinations of fiery colour and texture from a myriad of euphorbias, sedums, vygies, agaves and cacti. Creeping ground covers and tiny crassulas are planted between the paving stones. ‘Succulents and cacti have such variety of colour, texture and shape I was able to obtain a wonderful synergy in the plant palette. It was one of the most exciting gardens for me to create.’ The original aloes have been incorporated into the new scheme and the garden coined the ‘hot garden’, for the intense glow of brilliant reds, oranges and yellows when the aloes are in full bloom in July.
Despite bold plant forms and a racy colour scheme, the garden is living testimony to Wendy’s philosophy that her garden should be, first and foremost, a place of calm and tranquillity – ‘a place to escape the hurly-burly of the outside world of today,’ she says. ‘My garden is my happy place, somewhere to draw breath… very slowly. What makes it unique for me is that it is continually evolving. Always a work in progress.’
Photography Elsa Young