John Richardson Gardens   Garden Design and Construction

House High Steenberg

The owners of this architect-designed house wanted an indigenous garden to embrace the sanctity of their brand-new woodland home. They required a small lawn and seamless integration with the surrounding forest and common ground. There also needed to be a natural flow from the house through the garden and down to the old farm dam in the woodland below.

When designing a garden one is often attempting to create a memorable 'sense of place'. This eventual 'sense of place' is the result of a conscious decision early in the design process to work within the parameters of a single theme or concept.Sometimes as designers we are spoilt for choice with regard to this theme whilst at other times, as in this case, we were left with only one realistic option. The truth is that this site already had, even in its raw state, all the charm, drama and ambience that one could possibly ask from a 'sense of place'. It was clear that besides the normal functions associated with designing a garden with this one we needed support and enhance the stunning views through the trees, down the valley, past the old farm dam into sweeping vistas beyond.

So struck were we by the sheer tranquility and peacefulness of the site that we knew immediately that this garden was in all manners to reflect the natural beauty of the place. We wanted to make the garden feel like it had always been there and, in a sense, as if the house had been magically inserted into the forest without so much as a broken twig or bent blade of grass.

In pursuit of the above, we immediately decided that all the planting would be indigenous woodland or forest margin species and that the colour palette is limited to the harmonious tones of various greens. With a sprinkling of yellow and white for crisp, sparkling highlights amongst the shady depths. To our minds, too much colour would have felt contrived, thereby ruining the experience of effortless tranquility.

Also in keeping with our concept, the layout of the garden is completely organic. All lines and levels follow those suggested by the natural lie of the land. A railway sleeper path connects the lawn area to the dam below both physically and psychologically and an L-shaped conversation bench, amongst the trees in the herb garden, rewards one for the short journey from the house down to the waters edge below. A journey that can take from a little as thirty seconds to one that can embrace all the hours of the day, because each step holds the promise of a new discovery to be enjoyed privately or shared with a friend in the sanctity of this private sanctuary.

Whilst the existing trees are all pine (a legacy of the Silvermine forest plantation) more than fifty indigenous trees were planted in the garden and adjoining common ground, species of which include White Stinkwood, Water Pear, Tree fuchsias and others. 

The garden was 1 year old at time of photographing. The home and garden were featured in Top Billing magazine July 2008.


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Click the image for a view of: View east through the pine forest and old farm dam into the flats and (on a clear day) Hottentots Holland mountains beyond.
View east through the pine forest and old farm dam into the flats and (on a clear day) Hottentots Holland mountains beyond.
Posted: 1/12/2009 (3:23:48 AM)

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