An old, tarred road under her garden was just one of many challenges facing Jacqui Lardner when she moved to a new townhouse development in Constantia, Cape Town

Poor drainage, a sub-layer of tar and the fact that nearly a third of this 164m² garden is sited over the concrete slab of an underground parking garage, might have put anyone else off. But as a practiced and passionate gardener Jacqui Lardner was determined to give the outdoor areas surrounding her new townhouse a fresh look. She’s a long-time member of the Ivy Garden Club and is blessed with knowledgeable friends.


“I tackled the garden in two phases,” Jacqui explains. “We were still living on a farm when we bought the townhouse, so I moved some of the existing plants that didn’t fit in with my plan to the farm where there was more space for them.” The remnants of the tarred road and loads of rubble then had to be removed before any new planting could take place.


“The next step was to create some structure,” recalls Jacqui. “To do this I planted hedges of box (buxus), Viburnum tinus and Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’ and added azaleas, Murraya exotica and Pittosporum ‘Garnettii’,” she says. It was only after this was completed she realised there was a problem with water run-off, not only from their house, but from a neighbouring garden as well. To solve this, drains and sumps were installed, which she cleverly disguised with covers made from lengths of latte wired together.


On the advice of garden designer Glynis Mayer of TLC for Gardens, she dug up the grass. “I wouldn’t advise anyone with a tiny garden to have a lawn,” says Jacqui. “You need lawnmowers or weed eaters to keep grass looking good and these have to be stored somewhere.”


In place of the lawn Glynis designed a central bed edged with cobbles and gravel paths on either side. Here, Jacqui’s indulged her love of flowering plants with delphiniums, foxgloves, white ‘Iceberg’ roses, penstemons and alstroemerias all neatly hedged with an ankle-high surround of box. At one end of this section, there’s a shady seating area, at the other, a water feature.


As the soil over the concrete slab of the underground parking area wasn’t deep enough to grow vegetables successfully, Jacqui placed two large wooden planters raised on legs in the centre of this space. Here she grows herbs and vegetables such as chillies, spinach, rocket and chives.

To counteract the glare from the white walls surrounding this kitchen garden, she lined them with eugenias planted in containers. With regular feeding and watering, these plants are able to thrive in the shallow potting soil. As the neighbours overlook this space, Jacqui installed an arched, metal pergola over which she’s trained wisteria and Thunbergia grandiflora to create privacy.