Every now and than we shoot in the garden; not with a shotgun but with a digital camera. Here 5 pics; one shows a part of the garden (totalling 11,000sqm and over 2500 different succulent plants outdoor); one showing an elephants foot (Dioscera elephantipes); one with a fruiting Pilosocereus lanuginosus; the fourth is a Adenium arabicum with flowers AND seedpods and the last is an overview of our retail nursery. It’s not all succulent here in The Green Cathedral of South Africa but that’s for you to find out; preferable on the spot where you can feel, touch, smell, hear and see.
Six years ago the idea for a Dry Garden was launched for a piece of bare land with a surface of approx. 1500 square metres. It was the most brackish part of our 10 hectare (25 acres) property and soil analysis in The Netherlands showed a pH of 8.3 and an organic content of 3 percent next to numerous deficits of nitrogen, phosphorous and diverse trace elements. We choose for the organic and slow way in improving the soil by deminishing the brack and bringing the pH down to 6.8 by adding coarse river sand and plenty of compost in the top 50 cm of the existing (too clayish) soil. After that we soaked everything a few times to get the brack level down (<40ppm; was 200 ppm). And than again mixing compost and gritsand through the top 30 cm of the soil. Considering that it takes approx. 3 years before the new soil (micro-organisms, etc.) is established we waited that long before we made the first trials with some cacti, other succulents and some acacia species including acacia hybrids.
This year we made the final decision and two students (Pauline Gillet and Sybille de Cussy) from the landscape university in Blois, France (ENSNP) have been fully engaged in designing the garden and implementing their design in practice.
De Cussy and Gillet knew literally nothing about succulent plants and lack of knowledge often results in an unusual surprising approach.
They created a dry garden with 7 spheres (totalling 78 different species, subspecies, etc.); creeping plants, shrubs/trees, rocks, cactus and euphorbia bushes, aloe bush, mixed border, agaves.
A PDF-file with plan and plantlist is -free of charge- available for interested landscapers and other interested parties with simular soil ‘problems’. Request e-mail to info -at- soekershof.co.za
Just an example (we use it for our nursery customers) of a simple, easy to maintain succulent garden. We made it within 4 hours (3 staff) including the sculpture. Plants used are diverse Echiveria species and Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera).
It’s ideal for people who want to have a different garden but don’t have the time for extensive maintenance.
At Soekershof, Private Mazes & Botanical Garden in South Africa, we are continuously busy creating new gardens. Some are simple to make (see picture); others can take a few years before they are ready. For the rockery at the entrace we count that we still need two more years to finish it. Partly because we are still growing plants which are still too young and partly because it’s very labour extensive to arrange rocks (different sizes and colours etc.) and gravel between it. The rockery (below an artist impression of how a part of it looks now) covers a surface of around 2000 sqm (almost 1 acre) and is divided in a caudiciform garden; Australian/Asian succulent garden; American succulent garden and an All Africa Succulent Garden. Yes; we are ‘Rocking the World’.
During Festive Season (school holiday) 2007/2008:
At Soekershof Walkabout, Klaas Voogds West, Robertson, Western Cape, South Africa.
Daily at 11 AM and 3 PM:
Rocking the World; A succulent landscaping project in Robertson.
Designed for all (succulent) gardeners/landscapers who want to know more about the possibilities and impossibilities of waterwise gardening in South Africa with emphasis on the Western Cape. See this and that plus media release below.
R 150.00 pp including picnic and standard program with quest in maze and tour in succulent gardens (see http://soekershof.com).
Duration 3-4 hrs. Only prepaid bookings.
Number of participants per educational limited to approx. 10 PAX.
1) Theoretical basics of landscaping rockeries (soil, composition, creating micro climates)
2) Landscaping a rockery in practice. Interaction between participants and the garden artists of Soekershof.
Discover that waterwise gardening is more labour extensive than generally perceived but also very much rewarding.
Info and bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 023-6264134
Rocking the world
Robertson (Western Cape); November 13 2007 – Soekershof Walkabout, Mazes & Botanical Gardens, commenced excavagation works for two rockeries which will the ‘growing ground’ of approx. 1000 succulent species from around the world within two years. These new species are in addition to the 2467 registered different succulent plants in the existing succulent gardens.
The gardens of Soekershof Walkabout distinguish themselves from those of other botanical gardens in South Africa with all plants under the open sky (not under roof or shade cloth) and all plants are organically cultivated without the use of fertilisers and other chemicals. Furthermore is Soekershof Walkabout the only botanical garden in South Africa which is certified by Fair Trade in Tourism in South Africa (http://www.fairtourismsa.org.za/).
Both rockeries are near the entrance; one will be the ‘growing ground’ of caudiciform plants (f.e. ‘bottle trees’, including several baobab species, from Australia, Madagascar and Southern Africa) and the other one will mainly consist of American succulent plants such as cacti, yuccas and agaves next to Brazilian ceiba trees (Choriosa speciosa). Most plants of the new collection are home grown from seeds and hardly or not on display elsewhere in South Africa.
The investment in the new rockeries is the first phase of a three year program during which all ‘gaps’ in the existing landscape of 10 hectares will be filled with different sphere gardens. In the beginning of next year excavagation works are scheduled for a very formal layout of sample gardens for the own nursery customers and the extension of the Langeberg Garden (in fact a maze without dead ends and home grown indigenous trees and shrubs).
Since the official opening in December 2002 Soekershof Walkabout is increasingly attracting (amateur) horticulturists, garden societies, botanists, etc. from around the globe. Locally Soekershof Walkabout is mainly known for its Klaas Voogds Maze which is regarded as the ‘largest hedge maze in the world’.
Mazes & Botanical Gardens
Primary Unusual Destination
Certified by Fair Trade in Tourism in South Africa
Klaas Voogds West, P.O. Box 291, Robertson 6705, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)23 626 4134
Soekershof Science: https://soekershof.wordpress.com
Soekershof Walkabout is a sacred enterprise, based on an appreciation of nature, humor, play, creation, expression and respect for the land, and the growth and development of the people and plants that participate -employees and visitors alike.
Soekershof Walkabout is a personal event which is simply described as the “Largest Hedge-Maze in the world” and/or “a garden with more than 2400 different succulents from all over the world under the open sky”.
But Soekershof IS more than that.
The original concept goes beyond all prejudice perceptions.
Walk, Wonder and be Inspired!!!
Just let it happen and take your time; a few hours at least.
Experiencing Soekershof Walkabout is, globally, a unique and hugely entertaining exercise for Body, Mind and Spirit; not to be missed.
Daily Tours: 11 AM and 3 PM (sharp!!!)
See website for more details.
With reference to an earlier submission:
Last week we started excavagation works for rockeries with a surface of around
1000 square metres. This at the entrance of Soekershof Walkabout.
One rockery will, in due time, filled up with caudiciform plants like adenia, delonix, cussonia, pachypodium, fockea and fouquirea species. As you can see at the picture we already planted with main infrastructure (focal points) with Brazilian snow trees (Chorisia speciosa) and some adenia species.
The other rockery will consist of 4 spheres; one American (we will call it ‘Little Texas’); one Australian (with Australian succulent plants including 2 Brachyton species (bottle trees); one Southern Africa with a mix from Madagascar, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia and the fourth small one will contain mainly Sempervivum, Crassula and Sedum species.
It’s very important to gradually plant the rockery. Ours is a three year plan and don’t be surprised if it takes longer. As soon as all focal points are in we just wait and look and think before we make additions. The focal points are essential. You will have to visualise the future size and shape. During the next months we probably move a few ones.
The most rewarding way of enjoying your plants is growing them from seeds. But we understand that not everybody has that much patience and growing plants from seeds is also very labour consuming.
But once the decision is made one wonders where to get the seeds. Ordinary nurseries generally only sell cactus seed mix but for people who want to grow something special it can be difficult to find the right adress for the desired seeds. And than there is always the risk that seeds do not germinate. We’ve had our experiences with that.
One of the few specialised succulent growers with good quality seeds can be found in The Netherlands (more than 80 percent of the seeds germinating; via friends of friends we got around 50 packets. In comparison average less than 10 percent of germination rate of seeds acquired at South African seed suppliers including the National Botanical Society) . In the online cataloque (secure payment method) of CactusPlaza you will find seeds of over 5000 different succulent species including cacti, mesembs, caudiciforms, etc.
The Dutch supplier states that its seeds are not older than 2 yrs at the most and that most probably explains the high germination rate.
Previously we wrote something about the South African Garden Forum. Not that we are ‘going strong’ in only that forum; there is another Garden Forum with members from all over the globe. Yesterday we published a few photos and look to the comments!!!
OK, we are proud of our garden but the real reason we provide the readers of this blog (all succulent plant lovers we assume) to these forums is that these consist of submissions of people who are all dedicated and passionate about their plants and they exchange knowledge freely. Worthwhile to bookmark the home pages of these forums.