Our clients in Eagle Canyon Golf Estate consulted us to design an indigenous grassland for their verge in the upmarket Eagle Canyon Golf Estate. The property had an established/formal garden with a mix of exotics, and the new owners wanted to change this into something more attractive to the local bird and insect life, as well as making the garden more water-wise. After discussions with the clients it was agreed that we would makeover all the gardens on the property.
Our first step in the design was to map out the property using the available site plans, a google overlay, and our on site photographs and measurements. Because of the nature of the surrounding properties - homes and trees etc. - we decided that it would be best to implement a grassland garden on the verge (where there was plenty of sunlight), and semi-shade gardens in the back of the property.
The clients loved the bushveld, especially acacia trees, so along with our grassland biome we included a few bushveld-specific species to complement the design for the verge. Rocks were included to add authenticity, along with gravel pathways to allow the owners and passers-by to journey through. For the back gardens a more formal layout was chosen, using flagstones as stepping stones, and contours to add height and depth to the various spaces. A small lawn area was kept to allow the dogs somewhere to play and run around, although the owners subsequently found that the dogs enjoyed the planted areas as much as they did the lawn.
The installation took four weeks, and involved clearing, removal of a large palm, soil preparation and contouring, placement of the rocks, and planting. Because the owners had installed a pool just before our installation there was a significant amount of extra soil for us to use for contouring, which saved costs on having to bring in extra topsoil. The owners were regularly involved in some of the on site decisions which ultimately made for a better garden. Final additions to the garden included lighting, benches, trellises for indigenous jasmine in the back gardens, and placement of some of the existing pots, which the clients had refurbished.
Moving large boulders into place required the use of a crane
A Cape robin-chat immediately approved...
...as did a pair of Spotted thick-knees
Healthy grasslands have a mix of different plant species, including grasses, bulbs, shrubs and other small perennials. To recreate this biome we chose as many locally indigenous grass species as were available, and interplanted these a number of bulbs and perennials. Grasses used for the project included: Themeda triandra, Andropogon eucomis (for slightly wetter areas where water was collecting), Cymbopogon pospischilii (for very dry areas), Eragrostis surperba, Eragrostis curvula, Harpochloa falx, Melinis nerviglumis, Melinis repens (for quick covering of a particular area), Pogonarthria squarrosa, and Setaria megaphylla for shadier areas of the back garden. Bulbs and perennials for the grassland included: Aloe greatheadii, Gazanias, Hypoxis iridifolia and H. hemerocallidea, Ornithogalum juncifolium, Crinum macowanii, Eucomis autumnalis, Gladiolus dalenii, and Bulbine abyssinica. To create the bushveld feel that the clients were after, we added Aloe marlothii, Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia (=Vachellia) hebeclada, and Diospyros lycioides.
The completed garden
Thanks to heavy rains which arrived just after we completed the garden, the new planting quickly established itself, without much need for manual watering. The garden is now a haven for bird and insect life, and we look forward to more visits to see how it develops and to find out what creatures might call it home.
Above, the completed grassland in October 2022.
A few months later, January 2023: