Pretty As A Picture

Home South Africa|July 2020

Pretty As A Picture
There’s always room for one more plant, pot or paver in this Boland garden.
Marié Esterhuyse

Mercia Kruger of Paarl likes to create pictures in her garden – but she seldom buys anything new in order to do so. “There is always some or other construction work on the go in our neighbourhood. It’s amazing how much stuff people throw away, which then ends up on the rubble heap: half-bricks, cracked pavers, interesting stumps or chipped pots,” she explains. “I pick them all up because I can always find a use for them in my garden. When my husband Riaan was still alive, he often asked me, ‘Where do you find all this stuff and where are you going to keep it?’ But I always find a spot somewhere in one of the ‘rooms’ in my garden.”

Mercia’s garden consists of a front area, a narrow alleyway space running next to the house and a backyard with a sociable braai area and comfy seating.

1 Front garden

The front garden was formerly a lush green lawn that required lots of maintenance. This was transformed into an interesting garden room that now needs minimal attention.

“It’s not something I just decided overnight. I thought long and hard about it,” says Mercia. “The lawn needed a lot of time and effort. Cutting and watering a lawn on a slope is hard work. In August 2017, myself and Hendry Maans, my right hand in the garden, started transforming this area, a little at a time. I was worried that the shock would be too much for me if I removed everything straight away and was suddenly confronted by a bare garden!”

To get the sloping lawn more even, they created different levels with railway sleepers. “Luckily, I had quite a few sleepers in my back garden that I had acquired over the years, but I had to buy more as the work progressed. The terraces were first prepared and levelled out before the sleepers were put in place. They are not all evenly spaced apart as I wanted to keep the look informal.”

The bare soil between the sleepers was covered with a thick layer of gravel, which made a plastic underlayer unnecessary. The larger brown stones come from a farm in Simondium but it took three trips to get enough stones to fill the area. With this done, the rest of the lawn was removed and soon the garden started to take shape.

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July 2020