The Patons’ Durban North garden reflects their love of exotic destinations and their fascination with water

As they are both water engineers the owners are enthralled by water and wanted to creatively incorporate it into their garden in as many different ways as possible. “We also wanted to feel as though we were on holiday while at home so when garden designer Jan Blok presented us with a design with a blend of African and Balinese styles, (which we’d loved on our travels), we were blown away.”

koi pond

The new garden plan embraces the new house physically and architecturally. The exotic atmosphere begins at the entrance with a koi pond bridged by a combination of sealed Rhodesian teak decking and glass panels leading to a towering Zanzibari front door. Across the atrium, the doors are echoed exactly in size and shape by a glass wall displaying the tempting view of a garden courtyard through which runs a slim stone rill.

Rhodesian teak decking and glass panels

“Although rills are very fashionable now, they have a long history; think of the Cape Dutch leiwatervoor,” says Jan. “These irrigation canals were also used in ancient monastic and castle settings, as well as the great Islamic and Eastern gardens.” The rill here is bordered by rows of celadon green water jars sourced by Jan from Bali.

garden courtyard

Beyond, terraces lead through lush tropical foliage spiked with surprises such as daylilies, strelitzias and Bulbine frutescens to the sun-drenched main terrace and a free-form pond surrounded by decking. This pond is now home to a flock of ducks and attracts many indigenous birds. “The water feature is environmentally friendly with a shallow end to give birds easy access and for fish to breed and a deeper habitat for larger fish,” explains Jan. “But it’s vital to install a really top-of-the-range filtration unit if you’re keeping ducks or the system will get blocked.”


The decked areas which border the reserve are softened by plantings of Louisiana irises and papyrus effectively blurring the boundary between the garden and the reserve. Inviting you to relax and enjoy the view are comfortable chaises upholstered in weatherproof fabrics.