Indigenous display gardens replicating nature open to public

2014-03-31 00:00

WHEN Mike and Carol Exelby moved onto their property over 30 years ago, transforming an old wattle plantation into an indigenous garden was their goal. Today it’s a rambling tranquil haven that gardening enthusiasts will have a chance to explore over the next two weekends.

The Exelby garden is one of six which will be on display when the annual indigenous open gardens event takes place. Each is a deliberate attempt to recreate the feeling of being in nature by using indigenous plants.

The Exelbys say their favourite feature in their garden, just off the Karkloof Road near the Wessa boundary, is big trees that provide the perfect setting for lying in a hammock, “watching all the wonderful birds”.

Landscaper Jo-Anne Hilliar, whose personal garden in Montrose has a medicinal grassland theme, said she enjoys the serenity of the space and the way it transports her, allowing her to enjoy the animal and insect life. An award-winning garden that she created at the Collins Business Park off Old Howick Road in Hilton will also be on display.

Also in Hilton is the garden of Karen and Dave Zunckel, a former “English country garden” which has been transformed in the 11 years since they moved in.

“We have obtained permits for various plant rescue operations using our garden as a genetic repository for Midlands Mistbelt forbs, a vegetation type that is critically endangered and close to our hearts,” said Karen.

The Zunckels have also begun replacing their lawn with an indigenous grassland that will require less mowing. “This is not a formal garden; we try to replicate nature,” said Karen. “It is all a work in progress and one that attracts wildlife, feeds and sustains us and keeps us busy but also brings us much joy.”

Also on display will be Di Martin’s garden in Pietermaritzburg and the FreeMe garden in Karkloof. The six gardens can be viewed over the weekends of April 5-6 and 12-13.

•For more information contact Sally Johnson at

The gardens on display:

• Jo-Anne Hilliar: 62 Davenport Road, Montrose

• Di Martin: 2 Grosvenor Road, Pietermaritzburg

• Collins Business Park: Old Howick Road, Hilton

• Karen & Dave Zunkel: 7 Anthia Road, Hilton

• Mike & Carol Exelby: Karkloof Road, Howick

• FreeMe Gardens: Karkloof Road, Howick.

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