“Our garden and Bussell’s garden blend into one,” says Shan. “Ours was already 65 years old when I moved here.
“My mom-in-law Jean started her garden in 1939 after she married my father-in-law Hennie. About five years before she passed away in December 2002, my sister-in-law Penny and I took over the garden. After her death, Nico and I moved into the main house and planted a Cape chestnut in memory of Jean and Hennie because that’s what we do here – we plant trees to commemorate people and important occasions,” she says.
Although the garden has been passed down from generation to generation, each one developing and beautifying it during their time, it retains its original identity. “Each new generation may try to improve it but no one wants to change it,” says Shan. “It has a slightly updated look but we want the garden to be true to what it was in the early years when Jean created it.”
There is plenty of shade in the garden, due to the many large trees, with the hydrangeas beneath them a sight to behold in December. There are also fuchsias, tree ferns, clivias, camellias and the aptly named bloodleaf with its red foliage.
From October, the rose garden is a spectacle; ‘Just Joey’, ‘Double Delight’ and ‘South Africa’ are among the favourites. Other plants growing with the roses in the sunny beds include hibiscus, day lily, arum lily, agapanthus and foxglove, with an edging of pansies. Since the garden is so large and plants always need replacing, the Retiefs propagate new plants from cuttings and seeds or multiply them by division.
Shan says gardening is in the Retiefs’ blood. “We are farm kids, through and through. The entire family is passionate about gardening.”
Since Nico no longer farms full time, he also helps in the garden and has developed a passion for hibiscus. “The abundant blooms on the shrub in front of our house fascinated him so much that he started buying these shrubs wherever we went,” Shan recalls. “We have shrubs in 30 different colours in the garden. Nico even started grafting some with different coloured flowers on one tree –heloves it when people can’t figure out how there can be blooms in three different colours on one shrub.”
Nico’s vegetable garden is also a hit; he enjoys sharing it with his daughters-in-law and their families. But they do have help in the large farm garden. “Sakkie Fortuin lends a hand. He’s astalwart who loves plants and he has the most beautiful garden himself. Maryna Booysen and Wilma Tromp keep the garden tidy and about twice ayear Iget in extra help during the busiest periods,” says Shan.
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