Gorgeous Green House

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


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We Won!!

gghggh_email_signatureCongratualtions to Chen Segnelli and the team on winning the AfrisSam-SAIA Sustainable Architecture Award.  Awards are wonderful for recognizing achievement but they also generate further media interest which keeps increasing our awareness and consciousness of the importance of building with more thought and sensitivity.  Come on everyone, what about thinking about your Christmas bonus and investing in just one thing that can make a difference to the way you live and is kind to our struggling planet. Thank you to all the friends and blog followers who have supported and sustained us on this journey!

 

 

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GGH in the running for AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architure

hdr-logo-afrisam-2

headingIt is very exciting to announce that we have been shortlisted to a group of 5 in the ‘House’ Category for the AfrisSam-SAIA Sustainable Architecture Award.  Of course the award goes to our Architects Sengelli and Associates if ‘we’ win but we will be happy to take some credit for the project coming to life!  Its really exciting to see how consciousness of the importance of building in a more sustainable way is growing and awards like this can contribute to incentivising all who participate in this sector.

barn-house

Barn-house has also been shortlisted

Judging Criteria

Judges look at three main criteria that entries must demonstrate. These are:

  • Regeneration
  • Reconciliation
  • Restoration

Project entries are required to demonstrate how they make the world a better place by minimizing the environmental impact of building. The projects are also required to bear the hallmarks of great architectural or social design. Entries are submitted under two categories, one for built work and the other for works of social importance, including research.

Here is the the full range of entries

expresso

Friday morning at about 7:05 South Africa time I will be interviewed on the the national morning show Expresso.  Eeks, its one thing to partake in a film where you can re-shoot any mumbling or lame moments.  Live TV is a terrifying prospect.  Send me all your positive energy please!!

The awards are to be announced tomorrow evening October 27.  Watch this space.


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House and Leisure, Sunday Times and Top Billing

This months House and Leisure feature the Gorgeous Green House in its ‘Sustainability Supplement’.  You’ll need to flip to the end to find us on p.162.  Glynis Horning has described our journey well.  Pity the photos that were selected don’t link in a cohesive way to the copy.  Not sure what sustainability/green message there is in our bed image and where is the eco pool, veggie garden, bee hive….?  (sigh, Sally took so many amazing photos).  However, the vertical and roof garden do look spectacular and hopefully that will draw people in.  (Scroll to end for image of vertical garden).
Sunday Times

This Sunday the Sunday Times are doing an ‘Eco’ feature. It will be interesting to so how they present our home and lifestyle.

Lastly, for followers outside of South Africa and those of you who may have missed the Top Billing TV coverage, here are the first 7 minutes of the show:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/t4iThlXZVzs“>http://

House and Leisure image


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Top Billing Visits the Gorgeous Green House

The Gorgeous Green House  will be making her TV debut this Thursday 16 July via the very glamorous No.1 South African magazine programme Top Billing. ( 07:30 p.m. on SABC 3). For those outside of SA there will be a shorter segment on You Tube – will advise when I know.

This 3 day process was absolutely fascinating. At times it was nerve wracking, and at times tedious (“take 43”!).  It was also overwhelming and humbling as I know how the intro goes:

Good evening and a very warm welcome to Top Billing. Tonight we come to you from the Gorgeous Green house in Durban, the culmination of one couple’s desire to ‘live more gently on the planet’. It’s quite fitting as this Saturday is Mandela Day, a day to remember that everyone can help to make the world a better place.

This was how we experienced the overall process:

Day 1:  Lorna interviews Jane, Caitlin (daughter), Chen (architect) and James (vertical garden designer) about the house

Jane extolling the virtues of the eco kitchen

Jane extolling the virtues of the eco kitchen

Interviewd In the lounge: "no we didn't get in an interior designer, the garden is the decoration:.

Interviewd In the lounge: “no we didn’t get in an interior designer, the garden is the decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James, Jane and Lorna explaining how the vertical garden works

James, Jane and Lorna explaining how the vertical garden works

Walking, talking and shooting, eeks!

Walking, talking and shooting, eeks!

Day 2:  Lorna arrives in elegant evening gown, make-up artist in tow, to do all the ‘links’ that appear between the different segments of the show

Sparkling Lorna Maseko

Sparkling Lorna Maseko

Lorna next to the pool

Lorna next to the pool

Lorna verandaLorna bedroomDay 3: The director and team return with a drone to take aerial images!

Thanks Top Billing for this wonderful opportunity to get our “living green’ message out to such a wide and diverse audience.

Awesome team: Adrian (director).Lucky (Technician),Mfundo (Camera)

Awesome team: Lucky (Technician),Mfundo (Camera), Adrian (Director)

Setting up the drone

Setting up the drone

Away it goes!

Away it goes!


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Gorgeous Green House Covered by Papers Nationally

daily_news

It has been a fantastic week of media exposure for the Gorgeous Green House. Lindsay Ord has written up our story and shows how living green can be much more accessible than many people realize.  If you missed the article in your local paper you can see the online IOL version HERE.

Star 125cape-argus

 

 


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Gorgeous Green House Featured in Green Home Magazine

Cover Green home magWe are thrilled that our green message is being picked up by other publications.  Thank you Green Home Magazine for sharing our story.  They have shared an electronic version.  Click here  and go to p.12 to see what a wonderful job they have done!

Green home mag p.12


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The Indigenous Gardener Magazine Covers the Gorgeous Green Roof

logo2Six pages of gorgeous images and step-by-step guidelines to create a living roof.  The Indigenous Gardener Magazine has done a wonderful job.  Be inspired!  Enjoy!

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Natural Swimming Pool Ticks All The Green Boxes

We started with a traditional sterile pool

We started with a traditional sterile pool

Swimming on the hottest of summer days for many of us is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  What is not so enjoyable is the consequences of exposure to chlorine and other chemicals a traditional pool requires to be ‘healthy’. Sore eyes and itchy skin are experienced by most.  Others suffer more extreme effects such as eczema, rashes, asthma, allergy and breathing problems.

At the commence of the build the pool became a pond.

At the commence of the build the pool became a pond.

Our alternative can be to mimic natural healthy water systems and instead of suffering the toxic effects of chlorine, we are nourishing our skin and hair and experiencing the holistic full sensory benefits of water that is bursting with life and colour, buzzing with dragonflies and other insects and soothing the soul with the tranquillity of a mountain pond or stream.

Design Options

Tilapia added to eat mozzie larvae

If extremely close proximity to swimming, flying and buzzing creatures is not for you, the design of your pool can keep the wildlife at a distance (literally). You can still have a pool with a traditional aesthetic combined with the benefits of the plant filtration process the natural pool provides. Your design is limited only by your imagination!  Re-creations of the rustic old swimming hole are very popular but contemporary designs are equally adaptable.

Our builder was provided very sophisticated drawings detailing the swimming vs planting zones.

Our builder was provided very sophisticated drawings detailing the swimming vs planting zones.

Essentially, whatever the design you need to ensure that the planted area is roughly 50% of your swimming area.  You can integrate the plants into the swimming section, have them alongside or even around the corner!  As long as you install a pump that can move the water the required distance you can create any look you desire.

How does it work?

The planted area also known as the ‘regeneration area’ is responsible for cleaning, filtering and oxygenating the water that passes through it. Native (indigenous) aquatics also consume nutrients that could otherwise create algae bloom.  Animals and insects will be attracted to this area for its plant life, but these in turn will control any pest issues such as mosquitoes from laying their larvae into the water.  Plants are anchored in gravel and this assists with filtration as well.

Regeneration zone in 3 tiers allows for aeration.  Note how little gravel and water is designed for each section.

Regeneration zone in 3 tiers allows for aeration. Note how little gravel and water is designed for each section.

Aeration

Providing for water circulation is vital. It will clean and oxygenate the water and additionally add to an environment that mosquitoes do not enjoy. Without adequate oxygen, your pool could become stagnant, harbouring odoriferous anaerobic bacteria.

Breakdown commences.  New contemporary shape designed to fit into the boundary of the old

Breakdown commences. New contemporary shape designed to fit into the boundary of the old

Carefully consider your volumes and distances of movement as this will inform the size of the pump you will need.  Visualize how waterfalls or fountains can be introduced into the design as in addition to looking beautiful they sound lovely and can mask the sound of traffic or noisy neighbours.

Sunlight

Ensure that your regeneration zone receives plenty of sunlight.  Most aquatic plants need good quantities to thrive.  The healthier your plants the healthier your water. Your goal should be to achieve crystal clear drinking standard water!

The structure is in. Swimming area foreground, planted section behind

The structure is in. Swimming area foreground, planted section behind

Building Materials

Your options are vast.  People are creating natural pools by simply digging a hole, lining it with bentonite, synthetic material or rubber and then covering the bottom with 10 – 15 cm of gravel.  Not everyone is comfortable with the rustic (but very economical option) so more standard pool materials are also used.  If you can, it is advisable to line the pool the with fiberglass rather than marbelite as it repels algae far more effectively.

Care and Maintenance

No more PH testing and constant addition of chemicals.  But with all things a little care makes them work better.  Position your weir on the side of the pool that the wind normally blows the leaves to.  You can still use a conventional automatic pool cleaner and insert a leaf catcher like the Gator to collect surface debris.

Planted up and close up of on of the three 'waterfalls' in contemporary design.

Planted up and close up of on of the three ‘waterfalls’ in contemporary design.

Some people install a UV filter to assist with killing of algae. It is possible that they may also kill off many beneficial organisms so we have not done so.

The plants will at times need thinning out and excessive decaying material should be removed.  Overall though, once your system is established you will discover that you  have far more time to enjoy your mini wetland rather than work it.  If you live in the Northern hemisphere you do not need to drain the pool in Autumn.  Except for topping up now and then, you’ll fill the pool only once.

Selecting Plants

Be sure to choose plants suited to your climate. Your best bet is to obtain your plants from a native (indigenous) plant supplier as they will fare best. Try and get as much diversity of species as you are able as different plants offer different cleaning and filtration properties. Be sure to include submergent plants such as for their high oxygen output.

Finished result.  A beautiful green and healthy place for us to play and relax for years to come.

Finished result. A beautiful green and healthy place for us to play and relax for years to come.

Diversity of species will also attract diversity of wildlife for you to enjoy.

My pool is in Durban, South Africa and these are the species I have managed to source so far:

Cotula nigelifolia

Ranunculus

Ethulia conyzoides subsp. Kraussii .

Ludwigia adsendens

Ludwigia stolanefora

Crinum campanulatum

Ethulia conyzoides subsp. Cypes

Floscopa scandens

Berula  erecta

Isolepsis Live Wire Grass Seeds

Eleocharis

Carex acutiformis

Plectranthus mirabilis

Zantedeshia aethiopica

Kniphofia

Dissotis princeps

Mentha longifolia

Now we are just waiting for Spring when the water will be warm enough to jump into.  In the meantime we are already enjoying the plants and the wildlife and are amazed out how clear the water is in just a few short weeks since we planted.


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Architects Come to Visit: photo competition

Chen Sagnelli

Chen Sagnelli

We recently hosted a group of enthusiastic architects from Sagnelli Associate Architects.  They were challenged by Chen Sagnelli to take photos of any elements of the project they were inspired by. These they then presented to the team.

Ian Rall was the winner and its easy to see why. His images are beautiful and arty and the Gorgeous Green House looks incredible.  There were lots of lovely pics so I’ve included a cross section of some of the others.  It was really fun having them and hopefully they will be inspired to discuss with their clients the opportunities in going green without compromising on aesthetics in any way. Enjoy!

IMG_2296 (Copy)

Ian Rall

Ian Rall

Ian Rall

Ian Rall

Ian Rall

Ian Rall

Ian Rall

Ian Rall

 

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Dhiagan Chetty

Dhiagan Chetty

IMG_1892 (Copy)

Dhiagan Chetty

Chen Sagnelli

Chen Sagnelli

Chen Sagnelli

Chen Sagnelli

Chen Sagnelli

Chen Sagnelli

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

image (9) (Copy)

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson

Chantal Robertson


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Daily News Covers The Gorgeous Green House

daily_news

Today the Daily News published the third article on the most Gorgeous Green House on the planet!

Click HERE to read the on line version.

Thank you Lindsay Ord and Marilyn Bernard for getting this information to a wider audience. Fingers crossed it will inspire and motivate others to look at some greening options in their own home.


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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!


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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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


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Photo Update

The build seems to have accelerated, or maybe its just because we are starting to get to the best bits.  The most exciting installation, so far, is the vertical garden.  I’m going to be really mean though, and not show you a single picture yet because it is so magnificent, and the landscape artist James Halle is so talented, it has to have its very own post with lots of elaboration.  Watch this space!

Floating staircase

Floating staircase

The shuttering has come off the ‘floating’ staircase, and although this is not a green aspect of the build it is so beautiful I just need to show it off!

The interior painting has commenced.  There are loads of eco-friendly paints on the market these days.  They are much lower in volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which basically means toxic stuff our bodies don’t like.  Confirm this with your paint supplier though because you won’t automatically get a low

Low VOC paint primer

Low VOC paint primer

VOC paint as there are still mixed perceptions about its efficacy.  Rest assured, they are equally effective and no more expensive than traditional.

veggie box

Mesh lining veggie box

The veggie garden now has 3/5 veggie boxes installed.  We are using a plastic timber product. These recycled planks are now widely available.  They are 100% recycled plastic so get great green points.  We lined the base with chicken mesh too keep out the moles.  Galvanized rods secure the sides from bowing out. This stuff will last forever, looks attractive, is easy to install and cheaper than recycled brick options which we had considered

3/5 Veggies Boxes Installed

3/5 Veggies Boxes Installed

Trichocladus crinatus

Trichocladus crinatus

I was really excited to see my Trichocladus crinitus (Black Witch-hazel) in flower. This small indigenous tree is quite rare and the petal form delicate and unusual.

Insualation Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles

Insualation Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles

There are lots of eco-friendly options for insulation these days.  We’ve gone with a product made from recycled plastic bottles.  The recycled newspaper product was a close contender.  The team on site report that the green stuff is really great to work with as it doesn’t shed prickly bits like the more traditional pink products.

 

Off Shutter Concrete

Off Shutter Concrete

The off-shutter concrete wall has had its first of two buffs and polishes.  It looks fabulous. I love the industrial /contemporary aesthetic and the honesty of the material.  Its a great ‘hard’ contrast to the green abundance of the garden.  Very happy with how its turned out.

Erythrina humeana

Erythrina humeana

The Erythrina humeana (Dwarf Coral Tree) are exquisite at the moment.  A really showy splash of red at the bottom of the garden.    

The pool has a new rectangular shape and fits snugly into the space of the old.  The reed beds are almost complete. It’s going to be great fun planting them up.  I’ll be sharing much more information on how to install an eco pool.  Suffice to say at this stage that the plants will do all the filtering of the water and no harsh chemicals will be required.  The plants and water provide the foundation for the wetland eco-system and we look forward to the

New Rectangular shape to pool

New Rectangular shape to pool

Reed beds constructed

Reed beds constructed

bird, amphibian and insect life we will be attracting.

Next to the veggie garden we have two of the Baunia’s in flower at the same time.  Gorgeous!

Bauhinia natalensis

Bauhinia natalensis

Bauhinia tomentosa

Bauhinia tomentosa

The whirly gigs are on site. Prith and Eamonn are finding them quite amusing.  Definitely a first for them as they are usually found in industrial builds.  We are putting them in to draw and pull up the cool air that will pass over the pond outside and into the hallway.  The best way to reduce the need for air conditioning in this space.

Whirly gig

Whirly gig

So overall fantastic progress!  And still so many of the best bits to come:

  • Vertical Garden (as promised)
  • Roof Garden
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Eco Pool
  • Veggie garden
  • Chickens
  • Bees
  • Worm farming
  • Grey water recycling
  • Solar system
  • Induction geysers
  • plus…plus… plus


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Photo Update

Not much of noteworthy greenness has been happening on the build in the last few weeks but I’ve been getting lots of requests for a photo update so here it is.  The final overall shape of the house is now really clear.  I’m most excited to be feeling the space of the roof garden.  It’s really easy to imagine it planted up and merging with the garden in the view beyond. The skylight will reduce the need for lighting in the lounge below (just visible behind the kids) and, looking up from the lounge, the plants that overhang will be lovely to look at.

Kids standing in roof garden which is off the master bedroom.

Kids standing in roof garden which is off the master bedroom.

There is another smaller roof garden around the outside shower off the master bathroom.  The slab is also in place here so its been fun to stand ‘in’ the shower.  Good thing the louvers are in the design or the neighbours RHS would be in for some interesting entertainment!

View from roof garden to master suite and outside shower slab for smaller roof garden

View from roof garden to master suite and outside shower area for smaller roof garden

Old garage roof is off and wall between it and the storeroom is down and its transforming into the granny flat

Garage transforming into granny flat. This wall will be the vertical garden

The old garage roof is off.  The wall between it and the storeroom is down and the two are rapidly transforming into the granny flat.  The wall in this view is to be the vertical garden.  This is going to be quite extraordinarily beautiful.  Watch this space as there are going to be lots of processes shared.   I’m really excited about this element of the build as it is going to ‘disappear’ this whole building from this view of the property. It is also going to extend the wildlife habitat of my space as I will be using only indigenous plants (species list to be shared).

Front of the house now at full height.  The large window is perfect in scale and will be a beautiful reflection point for the pond in front.

Front of the house now at full height. The large window is perfect in scale and will be a beautiful reflection point for the pond in front.

The Shuttering is off the veranda so we get a good feel for how cool and protected we will be here.

Squinting Bush Brown butterfly unperturbed by the building activity

Squinting Bush Brown butterfly unperturbed by the building activity

Looking forward to lots of  long lazy lunches with family and friends.

Shuttering is off the verhanda so we get a good feel for how cool and protected we will be here

Section of veranda