Take the dusty meandering road through the KZN Midlands hills past Curry’s Post to Siteka Country Estate and there, overlooking the Kusane Dam and the Karkloof valley, you’ll find Jo Smart’s garden.
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Here, old trees provide a backgdrop to curving herbaceous beds filled with shrubs, groundcovers and a host of roses.
“When we moved here about 10 years ago, there were beautiful trees, azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and hydrangeas, but the garden was quite overgrown and neglected,” says Jo.
A passionate gardener, she derives great joy from creating beds, and shaping trees and water features to draw the visitor through the garden. “I’m not a landscaper, nor did I use one, I just started near the house and slowly worked my way outwards,” she says.
The property once belonged to Graham Wulff, the inventor of Oil of Olay. The trees he planted, which include Ginkgo biloba, pin oaks, liquidambars and planes, form the backbone of the garden. Under these, Jo planted variegated hygrangeas, abelias, buddlejas with their silvery green leaves, escallonias, azaleas, weigelias and camellias.
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One of the special features is a waterfall and a large bog planted with swamp cypresses and plants that like wet feet such as water lilies, gunnera and kniphofia (red-hot pokers). The herbaceous borders are edged with lamb’s ear, erigeron, Geranium incanum and agapanthus, while in the centre, delphiniums and foxgloves thrive.
To add enchantment, Jo incorporated bronze flamingos and a bush buck sculpted by Llewellyn Davies, while three beaded wire sheep ‘graze’ on the lawn. A bridge links two areas of the garden and there’s a secluded sitting area hidden behind the shrubs under a tree.
Jo loves her roses best of all. ‘My Granny’, ‘Sophie’s Rose’ and ‘Granny’s Delight’ are planted near the house, while others grow in wide curved beds. These include the vigorous pink ‘Blossom Magic’ over the pergola, ‘Gülilah’, a spreading, arching pink rose growing against the fences, and the beautiful yellow, climbing rose, ‘Casino’, interplanted with Panarosa ‘Morning Star’.
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The rose garden, bordered by a blackberry hedge to keep the buck out, features her favourites ‘Garden Queen’, ‘Otto De Jager’, ‘French Panarosa’ and ‘Roberto Capucci’.