Flowers and foliage provide year-round interest in a KZN paradise

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Photographs Sally Chance

Isabel and Mike Johnston bought their property with its established garden and stately trees in April 1981. Forty years on and the ancient indigenous tree ferns, colourful azalea hedges and huge magnolia trees remain focal points in the garden. Mike passed away almost 20 years ago, but Isabel can be found in her garden every day.

“Mike planted many indigenous trees along our eastern boundary. Among those still standing today are Natal mahogany (Trichilia emetica), wild peach (Kiggelaria africana), Natal fig (Ficus natalensis), white stinkwood (Celtis africana) and tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida). These have grown magnificently, providing shade and a haven for many forest birds. The understorey is planted with river bell (Mackaya bella), azalea and different varieties of Plectranthus that flower prolifically in April and May. Gravel paths wind through the woodland and Streptocarpus, Saxifraga stolonifera, fairy primula, English primrose (Polyanthus vulgaris), bluebells, snowdrops and maidenhair ferns have covered the forest floor,” says Isabel.

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