French garden tour: Landscaping ideas

Though it was designed to suit the needs of two different families, all the elements of this elegant riverside french garden work together in perfect harmony. 

With the Crocodile River flowing through it, wild grasslands surrounding it and open countryside in the distance, this garden couldn’t be anything but romantic. Built and designed to accommodate two families, the house and garden are a haven for the owners. This french garden is one to lust after.

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The house is designed in a classic European style, and although it reads visually as one building, it is built in two separate sections with a communal living area.

The owners wanted their garden to not only complement their home, but also harmonise with the surrounding countryside and suit the different needs of the whole family – a tall order and so they called in landscaper Jan Blok to help.

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The result of Jan’s careful planning is a beautifully intergrated garden divided into several sections: a veggie garden, a platform with views over the wetlands, a communal deck overlooking the Crocodile River for family gatherings and ample lawn areas for the children to play on.

Veggie-garden - french garden

The garden has a French provincial feel to it with formal lines and symmetrical beds complemented by the use of natural stone and oversized pots throughout. Strong focal vistas are a major feature and a central axis runs through the common area.

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 This includes a driveway and forecourt, leading to three interconnected courtyards, with water features in each, and ultimately to the main pool area and back garden beyond. A long, neatly framed lawn area runs the length of one side of the house, drawing the eye down to the end with a short pause in the middle at a formal pond planted with irises. It’s flanked by mixed perennials, roses and hedging and is lined with oversized black pyramid topiary frames.The pretty and functional vegetable garden outside the kitchen is another favourite. The herbs and vegetables are planted in raised wooden planters set in gravel crowned with wrought-iron arches swathed in white ‘Lamarque’ roses. “These arches add a three-dimensional element to the area, but still allow enough light in for the veggies,” explains Jan.The other side of the house features a long formal garden with geometric beds and grey urns as accents.
To deal with the slope a large viewing platform was constructed off the home’s main veranda and overlooks two large dams. These were transformed into natural wetlands with plantings of Louisiana irises and water lilies and have attracted an abundance of birds and wildlife, including two otters.