Art in the Garden 2

Gardens are per definition ARTificial; even if the gardener strives to let the garden look as natural as possible. We at The Green Cathedral of South Africa are very much aware of this and it is also one of the reasons we go beyond the general perception of a garden. Part of it is Art in the Garden. And it is easy to buy statues and other mass produced ornaments at the garden center. We rather challenge talented people to make something unique and preferable with material from the land or recycable material. An example of the last is the wooden cactus of 4 metres high made by local woodworker Marthinus Plaatjies from restpieces wood.

Recently land art artist Jody Joyner from Tucson, AZ, USA created is giant nest out of hibiscus twigs and a few years ago our own staff created the earthwork Mama Africa (we expect Mama Africa fully covered with succulent groundcovers within 1 year from now.

Here some pictures:

It’s easy to copy things you see on the way. For us it’s a challenge not to be the sheep that follow but the one with followers.

Succulents rooting in H2O

Cuttings rooted on H2O. Took 2 months to develop roots of 2 to 5 cm. These are Eurphorbia resinifera but also other Euphorbia species root well in water. Ideal temperature is around 20 degrees Celcius (=68 F). Just started an experiment with 2 Lophocereus species. Keep you updated.

The reason for this experiment is that there is an overseas demand for this rooted plant material and as it’s a regulation that no soil particle is allowed to leave the country.. (etc. etc.). At this stage we are rooting a few hundred Euphorbia cuttings (diverse species) in water.

We are no scientists (just make use of them) but we like to experiment and prefer to choose for the most unlikable things. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes not but when you never try you will never know.

Via our Facebook page we keep the world informed about the latest developments in The Green Cathedral of South Africa

And for PRECISE road directions, times, etc. you may (must) visit this site.

The development of a Dry Garden

general plan dry garden

general plan dry garden

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.

preparation works

preparation works

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.

artist impression of aloe bush

artist impression of aloe bush

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.

rock art in the dry garden

rock art in the dry garden

Students of the McGregor Waldorf School were engaged in rock art  drawings throughout the garden as part of Land Art Project in South Africa that is initiated by Soekershof.

detail of aloe bush

detail of aloe bush

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

Basic Soil preparation

This post is “Under continious Construction”.

In the past we have mentioned a few times ‘soil’ and ‘soil preparation’. See here, there and there.

Every nursery has its own recipes and one may assume that these all work.

In addition to the info provided via the links above:

Succulent plants thrive in a wide range of soils each with their own characteristics. An Aloe plicatillus originate from acid soil (pH <6) near Franschoek in South Africa and and the Gunniopsis glabra originate from a saline flood plain (pH >7.5) in Western Australia.

These differences don’t necessarily mean that these plants don’t grown in different environments.

A good (general) pH of the soil is just below neutral (=pH 7); pH  6.8 is recommended. Soil analysis in the Western Cape is done by Bemlab in Somerset West Do It Yourself pH-meters are not always accurate.

An interesting article about pH is this one. With thanks to Ralph Martin of the south Wales branche of the British Cacti ad succulent Society.

The most important characteristic of the soil is drainage. Especially the top soil must drain freely an excess of water to avoid ‘neck rot’ and also (high temperatures after rainfall) mealy bugs. Ideal is a free draining top layer (10-20cm) of coarse sand or gravel rich soil and a sublayer (10-20 cm) which can accumulate a little bit of water. The characteristics of the sub soil (>30 cm) should be more or less simular to that of the sublayer of the topsoil and is important for deep rooting plants like collumnar cacti. Soil (top- and subsoil alike) may never be waterlogged.

Preferable poor soil (low organic content) but some compost (preferable of horse manure or composted mushroom medium) in sublayer and subsoil is recommended. In some part of South Africa (for example those with brackish/saline soil) an small dose of bonemeal can improve the soil.  Fertilisers (even dried chicken manure or ‘bounce back’)  improve plant growth but also make the plants extra vunerable for pests and diseases.

No-till

In large scale agricultural operations there is an increasing amount of farmers that implements ‘no-till’ in the cultivation of their crops thus as less as possible disturbing the soil.

Quote from WikipediaIn no-till farming the soil is left intact and crop residue is left on the field. Therefore, soil layers, and in turn soil biota, are conserved in their natural state. No-tilled fields often have more beneficial insects and annelids[12], a higher microbial content, and a greater amount of soil organic material. Since there is no plowing there is less airborne dust.

No-till increases the amount and variety of wildlife.  This is the result of the improved cover because of surface residue and because the field is disturbed less often than conventional fields.

If you know that your soil is suitable don’t dig. drygardenpreparationworks1Preparation limits itself than only to weeding, cleaning and planting unless you planned to make (small) rockery heeps, etc.  (see picture).

A classical French design succulent garden

We are proud to have hosted Eulalie Baudet from Blois in France for a couple of months. She studies landscaping at ‘L’ecole nationale supérieure de la nature et du paysage’. This study (only for promising and very talented students from all over France) is a very extensive one and it takes at least five years to complete including practicals around the globe. Eulalie is a second year student (her father being one of the top landscapers in Bretagne) and she is extremely entrepreneurial and creative. In the past few months she designed and implemented some aesthetical improvements at the entrance and along the road and designed and created a classical French garden with, very unusual, succulent plants.  For now the design. It’s a fully symmetrical garden and in the future when the hedge shrubs around it are more mature it will be a real resting point where one can sit and wonder all day.

http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc112/soekershof/DesignclassicalFrenchsucculentgarde.jpg 

 

 

Landscaping a rockery PART 3 (practical on THE spot)

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.

Subjects:    

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: soekershof@lando.co.za 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’.

Walk
Wonder
and be
Inspired!
 
Soekershof Walkabout
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
Skype: soekershof
E-mail:
soekershof@lando.co.za
Website: http://www.soekershof.com
Blogsite: http://soekershofwalkabout.blogspot.com/
Soekershof Science:
https://soekershof.wordpress.com
Dutch: http://www.dagboek.iblog.co.za
http://www.travelpod.com/members/soekershof

Mission statement:
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.

More about the Soekershof succulent gardens

In one of our other blogsites we recently wrote an item about the visit of a group horticulturists/botanisists/garden lovers from The Netherlands.

We made a powerpoint presentation of this visit and included additional data such as road directions from Cape Town, opening times, etc.

You can order this presentation for free. Via our general website (see contact details under General Info) you can pick up our e-mail adress and email us your request. After emailing the presentation your email adress will be deleted.

The duration of the slide show is approx. 3 to 4 minutes and the file size is just below 1 MB.

We get many enquiries (especially from North America and Australia) about our unusual enterprise. The powerpoint presentation provides interested parties with a brief general insight.