Tour this tiny KZN garden

Undeterred by a lack of space, Val Yeats and her late husband Norman decided to create their own ‘slice of heaven’ by revamping their tiny Pietermaritzburg garden

Situated on Pietermaritzburg’s Town Hill, the complex Val Yeats lives in is renowned for its small, pretty gardens. A few years ago, Val and her late husband Norman, decided to take theirs to the next level by revamping it. “Our intention was to remodel the front garden, create a secluded courtyard at the back and then link them with paving and planting down the sides,” she explains.

To create the abundant, old-fashioned English-style garden they’d hankered after, they enlisted the help of award-winning landscaper Gordon Stuart of Gordon Stuart Landscaping Co.

The main challenge lay in the close proximity of the Yeats’ home to the road that runs through the complex. “There’s less than 4m between them, including the 1m-wide verge, and the passages along the sides of the house are very narrow,” explains Gordon.

To create some height between the road and front door Gordon built raised garden beds made from natural rock. These conceal the road and reduce water run-off onto the walkway. To provide a screen, he used standard white ‘Iceberg’ roses underplanted with a line of bush ‘Icebergs’.

The cascading cream and peach bougainvillea, Ada’s Joy, over the front entrance inspired the colour palette of the garden to which Gordon added tones of cream with hollyhocks and white arums, sky blue courtesy of delphiniums and salvias and the dusty pink and mauve of foxgloves. Highlights are provided by bearded irises in Val’s favourite colour, lemon. Along the narrow passages linking the front and back gardens, Gordon closely planted Agapanthus ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘New Blue’ to keep the look simple but in line with the colour scheme.

“When redesigning a garden like this, a good plan indicating the position of the plants, is essential,” Gordon explains. “It’s important to use repetition in the planting, which creates harmony, balance and flow as well as to include plants of different heights and fillers. And with a plan, you can make sure this happens. It’s also useful to know that plants should always be grouped in multiples of three or five.”

No English garden is complete without roses and as Val loves to pick for the vase they chose ‘Duet’, ‘Double Delight’, ‘Helen Suzman’, ‘Pearl of Bedfordview’ and ‘Iceberg’ as they complement her decor perfectly.

The south-facing courtyard at the back of the house is furnished like an outdoor room. Crisp white lattice provides a backdrop to a wooden bench, while a pergola covered with a waterfall of blue plumbago softens the hot north-facing wall. Slightly raised beds are filled with lashings of lobelias, sutera and violas as well as the perennials and annuals used in the front garden. With the basic structure in place Val can vary the colour scheme adding interesting new fillers and annuals on a seasonal basis.