Garden rooms: A surprise around every corner

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Foto's: Francois Oberholster
Foto's: Francois Oberholster
Take a walk with us through the beautiful rooms in this structured garden.

Photographs Francois Oberholster 

A garden with structure, steps, low walls and an abundance of blooms. This was a long-time dream for Beatrice Moore-Nöthnagel, a member of Home’s editorial staff for many years and now a regular contributor.

However, her garden had quite a steep slope and the clay soil was a problem; Beatrice  and hubby Christo soon realised that they would not be able to achieve the garden of their dreams on their own and called in Wouter Kruidenier of De Kruidenier Exclusive Gardens  for assistance. 

“We explained our wishes and Wouter and his team took care of the rest,” says Beatrice. “He drew up the plans, chose plants that we love and managed the entire project. I always tell people that we decided not to extend our home but rather to ‘build’ a garden. Our garden gives us immense pleasure. It was worth every cent!”


Beatrice and Christo Nöthnagel and their three kids, Emma (9) and twins Philip and Nielen (3)

WHERE Durbanville


TYPE OF SOIL Clay with loamy topsoil

The rose tunnel that connects the pool garden to the front garden adds structure to the space. Red bricks and cement surfaces are used throughout to create a cohesive whole.

The project kicked off in April 2015 and lasted about nine weeks (the pool was installed beforehand). This is how it was done:

First, the site  was levelled

The property’s slope made gardening difficult. In addition to the soil that was excavated for the pool, another 85 cubic metres of good loamy soil was brought in to level the surface. With this quality garden soil as a top layer, the poor clay soil was no longer an issue. In the lower part of the garden, French drains were installed to improve drainage. A sturdy low retaining wall was also built between the pool and the boundary wall to support the weight of the additional soil and to prevent the boundary wall from toppling over.


The swimming pool takes shape

Structures being built

Clipped hedges feature throughout the garden, adding structure to the rooms and helping to conceal boundary walls. They also add privacy and serve as green walls.

Next, building could commence

With the ground levelled, low walls and steps could now be built; these created different levels and garden rooms. Cement paths with a red brick edging that complements the red facebrick of the house links the various parts of the garden. This edging ensures that the garden and house form a cohesive unit. The Nöthnagels love the look of small klompie bricks and were keen to use them in the garden, but they are expensive and buying the amount they would need for all the paths and low walls would have cost a fortune. Wouter chose class 2 red De Hoop bricks from Corobrik and turned them on their sides, creating more or less the same effect with much cheaper bricks.

Garden rooms: 

1 Main garden with water feature

2 Entertainment area

3 Lower level

4 Front door

5 Pool garden

6 Rose tunnel 

Colour adds life

The cement surface used for pathways and benches creates an earthy and timeless feel. Some of the cement walls and the pizza oven were painted with red iron oxide powder (available from hardware stores) to achieve a rusted look; it is mixed with water and brushed on and only needs to be applied once to permanently create this look. Stone cladding creates a textured finish around the pillars of the rose tunnel and entertainment area. This was chopped by hand and then fitted like a puzzle. 

The concrete benches, small fire pit and pizza oven are perfect for outdoor entertaining; a bowl of echeverias adorns the fire pit when it’s not in use. Meranti beams from Rare Woods SA; stonework by Van Staden Retaining Systems


Plant list

A variety of hedge plants add structure, contrast and privacy: 

•  Australian brush cherry  (Syzygium paniculatum)                

•  Indian laurel fig (Ficus microcarpa)

Ficus ‘Hawaii’ and F. ‘Gold King’            

• White pear (Apodytes dimidiata)

• Tar wood (Loxostylis alata)              

Viburnum sinensis en V. tinus ‘Compactum’


Tickey creeper growing up the brick walls softens the exterior of the house; repetition of this element creates uniformity. 

Different rooms

The garden is divided into seven garden rooms, each with its own character and palette: 

1 Main garden with water feature

A tall hedge of Australian brush cherry forms a dense green wall on the side of the property and conceals the driveway. The first sight that greets you as you walk through this hedge is the circular water feature. This element adds structure to the front garden and is further emphasised by neatly trimmed low salt bush hedges. Blue, purple and white forms the palette in this part of the garden. The borehole water fountain is enjoyed by dogs and kids alike! It also attracts an abundance of birds, while the soothing sound of the water can be enjoyed from inside the house.

Beds of statice blooms are framed by low salt bush hedges. Bulbs such as chincherinchee and Dutch irises provide seasonal colour.

Plant list

Blue, white and purple blooms provide colour in the front garden:

• Buxus microphylla ‘Faulkner’ around the fountain

• Statice (Limonium perezii)

• Bulbs such as chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides hybrids) and Dutch irises

• Salt bush (Einadia hastata)  for contrast

The garden can be appreciated from every room in the house; throughout the year, there are plants in bloom and so many things that bring us joy.
– Beatrice

2 Entertainment area

What was previously a misshapen dead corner is now the most sociable entertainment area! The existing boundary hedge of Australian brush cherry has grown tall enough to hide the neighbour’s two-storey house so the space is perfectly private. The entertainment area is a step higher than the pool garden to create the feel of a separate garden room. The cement floor was framed with the same red brick edging. Pillars were built and a meranti pergola installed to provide respite from the summer heat. The pergola is covered with an ornamental grape for shade, while different types of jasmine that bloom at various times of the year provide heady fragrance. 

Practical jarra wood furniture that can remain outdoors permanently is perfect for the entertainment area. It is not sealed; instead, it is washed with a special plant soap two to four times a year. The outdoor pendant creates a lovely ambience in the evenings.

Table and chairs from Hope Garden Furniture; pizza oven from Italoven; outdoor pendant light from Ambient Luce

Plant list

Climbers and ornamental plants provide greenery in the entertainment area: .

• Azalea hybrids

• Starry wild jasmine (Jasminum multipartitum)

• Star jasmine  (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

• Tree forget-me-not (Duranta erecta ‘Sheena’s Gold’)

• Yesterday, today and tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora ‘Eximia’)

• Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

• Crane flower (Strelitzia reginae)

• Acorus ‘Golden Edge’ (Acorus gramineus ‘Golden Edge’)

• Mirror bush (Coprosma repens  ‘Marble Chips’)

Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’

Pink is our favourite colour!
– Beatrice

3 Lower level

A wide variety of pink flowers provide colour in spring in this part of the garden. A rusted steel French-look urn from Plaisir du Jardin is the focal point of this garden room. Symmetrically placed, it draws the eye when you look from the pool garden through the rose tunnel towards the pink garden.

Plant list

These plants provide pink blooms for an extended period:

• Inca lily (Alstroemeria aurea)

• Harebell (Dierama pendulum)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

• A variety of Pelargoniums

• Egyptian star cluster (Pentas lanceolata)

• Purple leaf plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’)

• Kruschen’s pink (Rhaphiolepis x delacourii ‘Kruschenia’)

Watsonia spp.

• Elephant's ear (Alocasia macrorrhiza) for structure and Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Garnettii’ trimmed into topiaries to add height  


 4 Front door

Here, mainly autumn shades with touches of pink have been used. The two liquidambar trees take on beautiful autumn shades, emphasising the colour scheme. Slate tiles at the front door were chopped up and replaced with a concrete surface edged with red bricks to complement the pathway to the water feature. The wooden front door was painted blue-grey (Tjhoko Paint Godfrey’s Glimpse) while a hanging basket with a red Pelargonium creates contrast. 

Plant list

These autumn-coloured plants greet you at the front entrance:

• American sweetgum  (Liquidambar styraciflua)

• Joseph’s coat (Alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’)

• Inca lily (Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’)

Canna ‘Tropicanna’

Crassula multicava ‘Maroon’

• Carex ornamental grasses

Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’

• Tea bush (Leptospermum scoparium  ‘Big Red’)

• Sacred bamboo (Nandina domestica)

• Tickey creeper (Ficus pumila) to soften the walls

5 Pool garden

This garden is on a higher level than the front garden; red brick steps connect the two sections. The pool garden is located on the west-facing side so it gets very hot. Blue flowers have been planted next to the pool, while a hedge of Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’ conceals the boundary wall. Here, Beatrice plants annuals for colour, such as petunias in summer and pansies in winter. The pool also has a red brick surround to match the rest of the garden. The pink garden with its rusted urn focal point can be seen from the pool garden, through the rose tunnel.

The grapes above the stoep are delicious! Once the fruit appears, it is sprayed weekly with Margaret Roberts Organic Fungicide; the clusters are wrapped in brown paper bags to prevent them from being devoured by birds.

Lights in the garden transform the plants into focal points at night and illuminate  the garden paths. 

Plant list

Blue flowers add a cool touch to this hot garden room:

Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’

• Cape scabious (Scabiosa africana)

• Statice (Limonium perezii)

• A variety of Salvias

• Petunias

• Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus ‘McConnell’s Blue’)

Vitex trifolia ‘Purpurea’

• Grapevine for shade and  Gongoni grass (Aristida junciformis) for movement

Steelwork by Durbanville Engineering; carpentry by Llewellyn Williams

6 Rose tunnel

All the flowers in the beds around the tunnel are white, which also adds impact in the evenings. White banksia roses and four pale pink scented ‘Nahéma’ roses adorn the rose tunnel. The roses initially took quite a bit of a knock and many perished due to the high salt content of the borehole water. Now Beatrice waters them with a watering can or Christo and the boys water them with a hosepipe and pump using the tank rainwater. Beatrice removes any shoots at the bottom of the stems to encourage more foliage and side stems to cover the tunnel. Two hanging baskets with white Pelargoniums complete the picture. 

Plant list

Plants with white blooms are grown around the rose tunnel:

• White agapanthus (Agapanthus ‘Alba’)

• Bulbs such as white Freesias, Dutch irises, watsonias and chincherinchee

• Stardust bush (Cuphea hyssopifolia ‘Alba’)

Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’

Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’

• Cape May (Spiraea cantoniensis)

• Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

• Arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba’

• Leather-leaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis) for lushness


Ambiente Luce 021 853 2555,

De Kruidenier Exclusive Gardens

Durbanville Engineering 021 976 8267,

Hope Garden Furniture 021 448 7485,

Italoven 021 981 1372,

Llewellyn Williams (carpentry) 073 478 9011

Plaisir du Jardin

Rare Woods SA 021 535 2004,

Van Staden Retaining Systems 071 360 9122,

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December 2022 | January 2023

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