A Natural Blend
Home South Africa|September 2020
A Natural Blend
It goes without saying that a garden in the middle of the veld should meld with its surroundings, require little maintenance and attract abundant birdlife.
Elna van der Merwe

From the Keisie Valley all the way towards the Waboomsberg mountains – this is Corniel Venter’s glorious view from the stoep of her cottage. Wrapped around her house on three sides, this stoep also allows her to follow the sun as the seasons change on the farm Kruis outside Montagu.

“It all depends on whether the wind is blowing and where the sunshine is best,” she says.

After her husband’s death in 2011, Corniel’s son Pieter moved to the main homestead on their citrus farm and took over the management of the property. Two years later, Corniel relocated to a once run-down labourer’s cottage on the farm.

“One day while strolling around, I realised that the cottage had an incredible view. To cut a long story short, I asked architect Johan Malherbe of Paarl to turn it into a home for me. The architecture of the main homestead is Cape Dutch and because this cottage is so different, it was important for it not to be visible from the main house.”

Corniel’s garden at the main house was a paradise of rolling lawns, agapanthus, roses and especially oak trees, but this time round she wanted to create a more indigenous garden.

“I wanted it to look like it was part of the surrounding landscape. In 2014, I approached local landscape designer Jan Hagen for his assistance. My brief to him? ‘Help!’

“I basically told him that the garden must melt away into its surroundings. I didn’t want a manicured garden or a swimming pool and I wanted shrubs that would attract lots of birds.”

Although she gets water from mountain springs, Corniel wanted the new garden to be waterwise. “And also low-maintenance so that it would not be time-consuming to take care of it. After all, a farmer’s wife loses her garden helpers during harvest time,” she explains with a smile. Fortunately, she has Benjamin Lehanya to help her take care of the garden.

Jan gave her exactly what she wanted – and more.

“My grandchildren just have to walk from my stoep through the garden and they’re in the veld. They love having picnics there. And the birds flitting among the aloes and the wild dagga make me so happy.

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September 2020