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.
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.
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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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Last Saturday around 5 million people (merely Dutch) around the world watched our succulent gardens via the satellite. This 4 minutes item show a global overview of Soekershof and says more than a few dozen pictures. The (spoken) text is partly English.
Enjoy the movie
Every garden has some focal points. The art of landscaping a succulent garden is to have focal points which change with the seasons or even months or weeks. A few of this weeks landmarks: