Plump, healthy earthworms are Sally Pretorius’s biggest success. “When I started my garden, some
parts of it didn’t even have a single earthworm. Today, they are so big and fat that I sometimes have to look twice to make sure they aren’t tiny snakes!”
It may have taken Sally five years to establish her garden in the Western Cape town of Heidelberg but it has become a highly sought-after spot for local residents who want to take photographs for weddings and matric dances.
“Ever since I can remember, my mother, Monica van Eck, had a beautiful garden which kept her ex-
tremely busy. She had a passion for plants and would also collect interesting rocks for her garden – we three kids were each given a small section of our own in which we could do what we wanted.
“I cannot recall us ever going to a nursery because my mother grew everything from cuttings or was given plants by friends and family.”
When Sally lived in Pretoria, she completed a landscape design course and visited many open gardens and design shows with her fellow students to gain inspiration. These days, she gets her ideas from Pinterest. “And from my favourite British designer, Alan Titchmarsh,” she adds. “I would love to one day visit the garden that he describes in his book, My Secret Garden. And I’d love to Visit the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Maybe I’ll bump into him there!”
Sally says she has learned over the years that there are few heartaches that cannot be cured by spending time with your hands in the soil. “My love for gardening goes deeper than just pretty plants in a well-designed landscape; it’s a spiritual connection with my Creator.”
In 2011, Sally and her partner Pierre Roode moved to Heidelberg where they opened a décor store, In-
spired, next to the N2. Sally then turned her attention to transforming the spacious garden into the paradise it is today. At first she did all the work herself – only employing a helper six months ago.
These days, Samuel Square helps her with the job of pushing the heavy wheelbarrow up the steep slopes.
“The big trees in the front garden with the long driveway and the two giant oaks just felt right. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do to get the house and garden back to what I imagined Ivy Lodge once was in its heyday. Fortunately, I have chan- nelled water for irrigation use,” says
She designed a more formal front garden to complement the style of the house, which meant that many of the clivias which the previous owner had planted there had to be moved to a shady spot under the trees. “Their many varied colours make my early spring garden very special.” The front garden consists of only a few species: clivias under the jacarandas, white agapanthus in the
sunny areas and hedges of Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’. “I added a few Duranta ‘Gold Mine’ topiaries and some Ficus plants that came up on their own have also been shaped into topiaries – these create contrast with the strap-like foliage of the agapanthus and clivias. There are also two spec-
tacular orchid trees (Phanera variegata) that are covered with white orchid-like flowers in early spring.”
In November 2012, Sally had to put her front garden, which she’d just finished designing and planting, on hold to be with her son Morné in Pretoria after he’d been involved in a car
accident. When she returned nine months later, Pierre had erected a gorgeous pergola under a tree in the front garden; Sally planted a star jasmine to grow over it and two Japanese maples on either side.
To define the transition between the garden and the pavers in front of the house, Pierre built an archway that’s also covered with star jasmine. A grove of seven leopard trees (Cae-
salpinia ferrea) in this part of the garden forms a lovely mini woodland.