Pictures: Derrich Gardner and Wallace Honiball
If, like me, you have been watching that delightful British gardener Monty Don and his travels around the world with the spotlight on spectacular gardens, our very own garden series Tuintoere would have caught your eye. But perhaps not, because not everyone tunes into the Afrikaans channel VIA, which caters to a specific market. DIANE DE BEER discovers this green gem:
I was lucky to have some inside knowledge because I know the researcher, Wallace Honiball, who is also an exciting landscape architect. One of our Boeremark regulars, I have always loved listening to him talk about plants and the environment because of his knowledge – and yet, he almost landed in the profession by default. When he wasn’t accepted for architecture, he could opt for landscape architecture – and he wisely did.
To our and his advantage. With the world turning more and more to environmental issues, with water becoming more and more of a problem, what and how we do landscaping becomes more and more important.
A selection of place and produce from last season’s Free State Liedjiesbos whose owners Dawie Human and Henning de Bruin have become friends and clients..
As things stand currently, architects have to consider the space they’re designing for even more diligently, so you might as well include landscaping into your studies. It is so smart of the Tuintoere team to find someone like Honiball, who adds weight and substance to a series, which might have landed up just exhibiting pretty gardens.
Of course we have many of those – pretty gardens – but when the presenter Derrich Gardner (only realised the appropriateness of the surname now!) interviews the owners and gardeners of the properties and estates they select, he can engage with real authority and information that adds to the understanding of the space we are moving into as viewers.
In the case of Honiball, it is also lovely to see someone engaging so wholeheartedly with his passion. Not only as a landscape architect, but also as someone who is intent on finding the best information and background on every garden that is included in the series. And already in the first season, there were some spectacular – and surprising – ones.
I was for example gobsmacked by a real gem in the middle of the Karoo called Mauritzfontein and when you saw it from the sky (thanks to drone technology), here was this little piece of green paradise seemingly in a very arid landscape.
But of course there was more and for Honiball it has been fantastic to meet some of our most amazing gardeners in some of their own gardens (sometimes handed from generation to generation on some Midlands or historic Cape farms) and other professionals. Patrick Watson, for example, introduced in the first episode of the first series is now a plant buddy!
Wallace remembers a grandmother who was a keen gardener but perhaps, also the architectural home he grew up in always asked for a special garden, which is still growing from strength to strength. He was also a keen artist at school and even some of those artworks had an organic feel to them – perhaps plucked from nature.
But I digress. He is a young man with a fascination and fortunate enough to be able to focus on that world and then apply it in many different ways.
He is excited about the series and the team he works with and considers the research to be hugely exciting – if hard work. He knows that his background is academic, but that is also what makes the programmes so extraordinary. He credits Hermi King and the amazing people from Mrs. King Productions working on Tuintoere for this creative endeavour.
He is aware for example that not many South Africans know about the European influence of so many of our historical gardens. These have evolved in time, which also adds to place and the pleasure. “Think, for example, of the Randlords,” he explains. Gardens were a big part of their legacy because they became a status symbol for those who could afford the best. He also points to Herbert Baker, one of our best known architects, whom he describes as the first landscape architect locally.
As with the first season, each programme in this second series deals with one garden, one designer and is 25 minutes long. That’s not long and it’s important to distil the knowledge into something palatable which lends substance, yet doesn’t overwhelm the audience. And that’s where Gardner steps in with his light hand and easy banter.
The creatively curated gardens of Henk Scholtz in Franschhoek.
From the start this has been an organic venture and since the early days, because they were breaking new ground, they could also establish the blueprint. Honiball also enjoys seeing the final product because of the post production, which has to put the story together in a way that captures everything the team has envisaged.
And then the grand dames of it all – the gardens. “We can only capture specific gardens at particular times,” notes Honiball – a fact we all know, but perhaps didn’t digest as a logistical nightmare. Some are only willing to show off their finery for one specific week of the year. Others only bloom for a very short period of time and all these details have to be taken into account.
The selection process is also very specific. Take someone like world-renowned artist and plant genius Willem Boshoff, who was showcased in the last series. His knowledge of the plant world and how he accesses it was a topic all its own – as majestical as some of the more spectacular gardens.
And when, as in the new series, you are walking into gardens that are 300 years old, you want to show them at their best. Honiball wouldn’t have missed this for the world. He is in awe of the people he has met and even adopted some as mentors because he was so overwhelmed by their knowledge and sensibility. Others again are great sources of hidden gardens in South Africa, all of which contribute to the excellence of the series.
It is the education he has gained that most thrills this budding landscape architect who with his own work, is also discovering the gardens in the rest of Africa, like at a Nairobi project where he is currently engaged.
But in the meantime, here is the running order with the series starting on Thursday (Via at 5pm with re-broadcasts) and showing an episode a week for the next 13 weeks. And luckily there is already a third series planned…
• EPISODE 1 – TUIN TANYA VISSER – Die Potskuur is an intimate look at one of our best known gardeners Tanya Visser situated in KZN.
• EPISODE 2 – JOHANNESDAL VILLA / Stellenbosch is a garden overflowing with artistic touches and roses.
• EPISODE 3 – CAVALLI / Somerset West spotlights authentic Cape gardening with a fynbos garden of note.
• EPISODE 4 – RUSTENBERG / PIETMAN DIENER /Stellenbosch showcases a grand old dame who clings to the past yet embraces the new.
• EPISODE 5 – HUIS STORMVOGEL /Stellenbosch is a collector’s garden where modernity and colour is introduced by the unusual gardens and plants.
• EPISODE 6 – BENVIE / JENNY ROBINSON / KZN boasts the largest exotic garden in the southern hemisphere, and certainly the largest in South Africa.
• EPISODE 7- HENK SCHOLTZ / Franschhoek. This garden is a flourishing abyss, located in the heart of f this quaint village. Every nook, cranny and decorative piece is carefully curated and positioned to play tribute to his life’s poetry
• EPISODE 8 – LANGVERWAGT / Kuilsrivier; Nestled secretively in a valley lush with vineyards, forests, abundant water and ancient oak trees, lies this historic working farm.
• EPISODE 9 – LE POIRIER (the place of pears) / DANIE STEENKAMP/Franschhoek lies between oak trees, surrounded by mountains and overlooking a rive. The architecture, interiors and landscaping are completely integrated
• EPISODE 10 – TIM STEYN – Brahman Hills is in Nottingham road / KZN shows off its spectacular new garden.
• EPSIODE 11 – LUCAS UYS – 1 Jacana Drive Ballito – Bonsai Garden / KZN is a Bonsai garden of note.
• EPISODE 12 and 13 are dedicated to the spectacular gardens at TOKARA / Stellenbosch with the Simonsberg mountains as the backdrop. It’s fynbos-rich and home to exceptional vineyards since the 17th Century.
One thought on “MARY MARY QUITE CONTRARY HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW”
Ag dis fantastiesâdankie vir die deel/ Wallace is regtig so ongelooflik spesiaal en vermag soveel.
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