Gorgeous Green House

The Renovation Journey of a 1940’s ‘Traditional’ to 2015 ‘Contemporary, Green & Gorgeous’


12 Comments

Photo Update (part 2)

Pond at front door in.  This is a vitally important element  as it will be stocked with Tilapia fish whose waste will feed the plants on the vertical garden behind.

Pond at front door in. This is a vitally important element as it will be stocked with Tilapia fish whose waste will feed the plants on the vertical garden behind.

Master bathroom mosaic/tiling done in double shower. Very happy!

Master bathroom mosaic/tiling done in double shower. Very happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original outbuilding (now demolished) had huge concrete sink outside, presumable for doing laundry in.  It is now re-invented as the mint planter under the tap - perfect!

The original outbuilding (now demolished) had huge concrete sink outside, presumable for doing laundry in. It is now re-invented as the mint planter under the tap – perfect!

 

Solar geyser in!  Fantastic.  This is such an easy energy/money saver  (minimum 40% on your electricity bills) so a win all round.  Please visi

Solar geyser in! Fantastic. This is such an easy energy/money saver (minimum 40% on your electricity bills) so a win all round. Please visit this post to see why we didn’t go the heat pump route

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Induction geyser  in!  Visit this post if you are curious as to why and induction geyser when we have also installed a solar geyser.

Induction geyser in! Visit this post if you are curious as to why and induction geyser when we have also installed a solar geyser.

 

My first Knipfophia of Autumn.  Will it turn into a red hot poker?  Time will tell as I have no idea which one it is.

My first Knipfophia of Autumn. Will it turn into a red hot poker? Time will tell as I have no idea which one it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, another yellow beauty, not commonly found:  Agrolubioum tomentosum.

And finally, another yellow beauty, not commonly found: Agrolubioum tomentosum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, our enormous pit that will house the water harvesting system.  This HUGE project is so exciting and the technology so amazing it will get a post all of its own.  Suffice to say its 9m X 3m X 2.5m deep and has taken weeks to build.  Happy to report that not a grain off soil went off site, its it the roof garden and being spread around the property.  Watch this space!

And finally, our enormous pit that will house the water harvesting system. This HUGE project is so exciting and the technology so amazing it will get a post all of its own. Suffice to say its 9m X 3m X 2.5m deep and has taken weeks to build. Happy to report that not a grain off soil went off site, its it the roof garden and being spread around the property. Watch this space!


7 Comments

Photo Update

With 5 working days to go until move in day, nerves are a little stretched.  One can’t help noticing that there is still no sign of any part of the kitchen, a toilet, tap, shower rose and one or two other rather important things that one gets used to. We must live in faith though that it will all come together and in the meantime this post will celebrate what has been happening at the Gorgeous Green House.

Owl House

Owl House

We are very excited to have installed the owl house.  You may think the design looks a little ‘open’ and are wondering why it is not in a tree.  We wish to attract Spotted Eagle Owls as we know they fly in our area and according to the experts they want to nest where they will have 360 degree clear views.  We’ve installed ours in the roof garden so we can lie in bed and watch all the action.  Just waiting for a broody pair to move in. Click here for designs for this and Barn Owl houses.  Very easy to make. I’ll allow the photos to tell the story of the updates.

First grenadilla flower.  Fruit next - yum!

First grenadilla flower. Fruit next – yum!

Re-cycling old doors. They are solid oregan so will be gorgeous when sanded down

Re-cycling old doors. They are solid Oregon so will be gorgeous when sanded down

Ditto recycling of doors for new braai (bargeque) cupboard

Ditto recycling of doors for new braai (bargeque) cupboard

Rockery constructed out of rocks and boulders on site.  White stuff to kill grass and weeds will be cut open for planted.

Rockery constructed out of rocks and boulders on site. White stuff to kill grass and weeds will be cut open for planting.

Another pathway.  It is so exciting to cut back the overgrown garden and discover these beautiful old stone walls.  By placing the path next to it and can be really appreciated.

Another pathway. It is so exciting to cut back the overgrown garden and discover these beautiful old stone walls. By placing the path next to it , it can be really appreciated.

New butternut on its way

New butternut on its way

 

Turraea floribunda being devoured by hungry caterpillars.  I'm guessing (hoping) its the Pseudaphelia apollonaris Apollo Moth as it is its larval food.

Turraea floribunda being devoured by hungry caterpillars. I’m guessing (hoping) its the Pseudaphelia apollonaris (Apollo Moth) as it is its larval food.

 

Tiling done in outbuilding bathroom. Happy here as well!

Tiling done in outbuilding bathroom. Very happy!

Clementine tree planted for my daughter.  Its here favourite fruit!

Clementine tree planted for my daughter. Its her favourite fruit!

Masses of brick paving was on site and we are re purposing it as flower bed edging.

Masses of brick paving was on site and we are re purposing it as flower bed edging.

Pool and reed beds in.  Just awaiting fibre-glass and we can fill and plant.  Can't wait.

Pool and reed beds in. Just awaiting fibre-glass and we can fill and plant. Can’t wait.

Dombeya tillacea

Dombeya tillacea

Deck infrastsructure going in. More to come on this as we are using a wonderful product made with re-cycled plastic.

Deck infrastsructure going in. More to come on this as we are using a wonderful product made with re-cycled plastic.

Garden dotted with these beautiful old walls, many in  dire state.

Garden dotted with these beautiful old walls, many in dire state.

Acquiring new skills, very pleased with my restoration work here!

Acquiring new skills, very pleased with my restoration work here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


23 Comments

Vertical Garden: an exceptionally glorious green moment

Patrick Blank Vertical Garden

The first time I stumbled  upon an image of a Patrick Blank vertical garden I was transfixed.  The beauty of his work is indisputable  and the idea of clothing the hard surfaces of buildings with vegetation quite mesmerizing.  I had already walked the path of research on roof gardens so knew that there would also be insulation benefits, but to be really honest at that moment I just wanted one! I had an inkling that there would probably be quite a lot of science in the process of a successful VG and began looking into it. I learned very quickly from viewing a hotel in Johannesburg that maintenance could be quite a big deal as they had many sections in re-hab mode even though the garden had been installed a few years prior. Once you get a few metres above ground level logistics have to be considered.

green wall vertical garden thailand.jpg

Pula Water Pot System

The Patrick Blank process is basically hydropics with irrigation behind the greenery. I became nervous of my ability to re-create this aesthetic in our hot tropical Durban climate  and then discovered the pot/container method which is a viable alternative.  Here you are planting in soil so essentially you are gardening a large volume of pot plants (that are also carefully irrigated) and a very pleasing result is achieved. My research took me to Pula Water whose system of this kind is no doubt the best in SA and probably globally.  A major advantage is that an almost immediate ‘full’ planted result can be achieved.  I was just about to commit!

James Halle Green Wall

James Halle Green Wall

I then arrived to work on the Botanical Society stand at the Home & Garden show and to my amazement saw that our center piece was a magnificent mini Patrick Blank, designed and developed by our own James Halle:  james@halle.co.za . Over the next few weeks of volunteering at the Indigenous Plant Fair James and I spent a fair amount of time together and combined with further research of my own this is what I learned:

  • Plant selection is the most important factor in determining the success and long time health of your wall.  Patrick Blank has walls that are over 30 yrs old and the reason they thrive is because he chooses plants that grow on rock faces with little soil.  Naturally you locally indigenous (native species) are best.
  • One must study very carefully the aspect of your wall in terms of the micro climate it exists in. The amount of  sun it gets in winter and summer further informs ones plant selection.
  • A great vertical garden is a science and an art.  I strongly advise you consult a plant expert who firstly understands the species that will grow best (science) and then knows how to put them together to create something beautiful that has the potential to get richer and stronger over time.  James Halle is a special talent in this regard.  He talks about ‘plant communities’ that will work together, weaving into a gorgeous tapestry where no species dominates and crowds out the others.  He thinks about the vertical plain in the multi layers it will become over time, ensuring that some gaps are left for mosses and smaller treasures to take a foot hold.  James ensures textures are contrasted and flowering seasons considered so colour will always be present.  I truly cannot over exaggerate how valuable his expertise has been.  On reflection, I know (on my own) I would have started off with a pretty design that would have eventually amalgamated in mash of reduced diversity.
  • If you are an instant gratification person this technology (images to follow) is not for you.  Small plants are inserted into the fabric as they have the greatest likelihood of ‘taking’ which means a lot of the background material is visible in the first few months. However, the rewards long term are greater than the pot bound system (I believe) as the wall can become an interwoven living system that grows from strength to strength.

So here is my (early stage) extraordinary and beautiful green wall of art (thank you James):

A PVC board id attached to a stainless steel frame

A PVC board id attached to a stainless steel frame

James's specially developed hydrophilic fabric (2 years in R & D!)

James’s specially developed hydrophilic fabric (2 years in R & D!).  Two layers are installed with irrigation between.

Planting begins.  Each small plant is provided a nest of coconut husk, nutrient and a few secret ingredients to give it a fantastic start

Planting begins. Each small plant is provided a nest of coconut husk, nutrient and a few secret ingredients to give it a fantastic start

Planting to plan, note the chalk marks on the fabric

Planting to plan, note the chalk marks on the fabric

James graciously gives my space to participate.  Emotional - I'm still pinching myself that this incredible thing is installed on my house!

James graciously gives my space to participate. Emotional – I’m still pinching myself that this incredible thing is installed on my house!

All done!  Use your imagination to see where it will be in a few months

All done! Use your imagination to see where it will be in a few months.  Note the trough below. When the pond is complete (a few meters away) it will be stocked with Tilapia fish whose waste will provide the nutrition for the plants.  (Watch this space!) Note also the bar near the top.  I am having a custom ladder made with hooks to secure me in place for easy maintenance in the years to come.

Note the diversity of form and colour

Note the diversity of form and colour

Another angle!

Another angle!

Streptocarpus sp.

Streptocarpus sp.

 

Begonia homonyma

Begonia homonyma

Begonia sutherlandii

Impatiens hochstetteri

Impatiens hochstetteri