Gorgeous Green House

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


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Owls Can Be Encouraged to Nest in Your Garden

Spotted Eagle-Owl,  B. africanus

Since we moved into the Gorgeous Green House we have been in thrall of the regular night time visits of a magnificent Spotted Eagle-Owl.  He/she loves to use the screen on the house as a perch to hunt from. Not surprising, as we have their favourite prey (small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, and reptiles) in abundance. A little research led us to learn that, although this owl is not threatened, and has become well adapted to human dominated environments, many still die from human actions.  Top of the list are poisons (usually given to rats), cars, and people who fear them or wish to use their body parts in traditional medicine.  We were instantly inspired to try and attract our visitor to bring his/her mate and start a family.  Although we are fortunate to have a number of large trees in our garden we thought it might increase our odds by setting up a nesting box.

Nesting box No. 1 on the roof garden

Nesting box No. 1 on the roof garden

That was over a year ago and there has been no interest at all!  Several wildlife experts have suggested that although the design is correct the position on the roof garden may be too exposed.  We had been so concerned about monkeys terrorizing the chicks (they are very destructive to other bird species in the garden) that we thought putting the box on top of a greased pole would be the business!  Apparently are fears are unfounded as most creatures that try to take an owl chick run the risk of being killed or injured by the highly protective parents.

Greg has been mulling over what to do with the left over bits of bamboo from the kitchen and decided to build nesting box no.2 and for it to be placed in a more sheltered position.

Stunning new work bench recycling the doors of the old house

Stunning new work bench recycling the doors of the old house

He has recently finished constructing the new work bench from the old doors in the house and has been itching for a project to break it in.

There are lots of plans on the internet we found ours here.  The result is quite spectacular!  Fingers crossed that we’ve got the location right this time (side of the house but still good visibility) and perhaps this posh version will attract a couple looking for a more high-end abode. Just in time, October is the last month for breeding!

Construction time less than 3 hours

Construction time less than 3 hours

Complete with weatherproof roof and installed on side of house

Complete with weatherproof roof and installed on side of house

This project took Greg less than 3 hours and we hope that you may feel inspired to make your own nesting boxes.  Alternatively if you are not DIY inclined check out your local resources, many cities/town have organisations that advice on owls that fly in your area and supply and assist people to get set up.


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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 Complete!!

Party House!

Perfect Party House!

This post is somewhat later than it should be but I have the best excuse!  We’ve been sharing this beautiful space with our overseas family (10 in all) for 6 weeks and have been incredibly busy chilling, having lots of fun and feasts and just joyfully hanging out.

A good test for a home is a lot of visitors for a protracted amount of time and I am thrilled to report that the GGH works beautifully. The kitchen and open space living area flows brilliantly and dozens of meals were seamlessly put together without bodies bumping into each other.

Thanks to our super efficient solar system we were blissfully unaware that Eskom (SA’s only power utility) gifted South Africans with numerous power outages during this time. We remained switched on, connected and cooking!

The natural swimming pool coped with the daily invasion of overheated, sunscreen coated humans and the fish, shrimp crabs, plants and birds seem no worse for wear for sharing ‘their’ space with us.

The large covered veranda is perfect for our African climate.  It coped with many for several big celebrations (including Christmas Day) and all meals were enjoyed al fresco. This has been our first chance to soak up the beautiful garden within which, to date, we’ve enjoyed whilst hard at labour rather than relaxation!

The veggie garden, although not properly planted as yet, provided an abundance of deliciousness and a foretelling of how are food lives will be in ‘normal’ mode.

In celebration of the finishing of the house I thought it would be fun to document the journey with ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘now’ images.  At the beginning of this journey I wrote on my ‘About’ page that part of OUR MISSION was to provide:

inspiration, information and motivation to others to follow suit.  We wish to de-bunk myths such as ‘green is ugly’…….

I also shared in one of my early posts:

Several years ago when I started talking about my dream of building a ‘green house’ a friend said “oh I saw one of those … a kind of hobbit house…really ugly”.  So the first misconception to clear up is that green design has nothing to do with the aesthetics of the house!  Whatever your taste (hobbit-like or otherwise) one can incorporate green design principles.  Essentially it means building in harmony with the natural environment and cooperating instead of fighting with the regional climate. 

Now we are at the end of the project (at least the building part) I do so hope that these images represent a realization of that early goal.  I look forward to your feedback.

Front View 'Before'

Front View ‘Before’

Front View During

Front View ‘During’

Front View 'Now'

Front View ‘Now’

Back View LHS 'Before'

Back View LHS ‘Before’

Back View LHS During

Back View LHS During

Back View LHS 'Now'

Back View LHS ‘Now’

 

Entertainment/barbecue Area 'Before'

Entertainment/barbecue Area ‘Before’

Entertainment/barbecue Area 'Now"

Entertainment/barbecue Area ‘Now”

Pool 'Before'

Pool ‘Before’

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

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

Reshaping The Pool Area

Reshaping The Pool Area

Constructing the Reed Beds to Filter the Pool

Constructing the Reed Beds to Filter the Pool

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

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

Old Garage Wall

Old Garage Wall

Old Garage Wall Becomes Backdrop for Vertical Garden

Old Garage Wall Becomes Backdrop for Vertical Garden.  Click HERE for more information.

Mid Way Through Planting Process

Mid Way Through Planting Process

Planting Just Completed

Planting Just Completed

DSC02460

Old Garage Wall Today!

 

 

Old Roof Above Kitchen and Lounge

Old Roof Above Kitchen and Lounge

Flat roof replaces old pitched roof providing foundation for roof garden which is off the master bedroom.

Flat roof replaces old pitched roof providing foundation for roof garden which is off the master bedroom.

Layers of Geotextile (white) then Flow Cell mats.

Layers of Geotextile (white) then Flow Cell mats.

Early stages of planting

Early Stages of Planting

Roof Garden 'Now'

Roof Garden ‘Now’. Click HERE for more information

 

Outside Dinning Area Before

Outside Dinning Area ‘Before’

Outside Dinning Area 'Now'

Outside Dinning Area ‘Now’

Old Outbuilding with Lemon Tree foreground

Old Outbuilding with Lemon Tree foreground

New Veggie Garden with Lemon Tree Still Pride of Place

New Veggie Garden with Lemon Tree Still Pride of Place

 

 

Back View 'Before'

Back View ‘Before’

Back View 'Now'

Back View ‘Now’

Original Store Room and Washing Line Area

Original Store Room and Washing Line Area

Storeroom now a Granny Flat and Washline Screened off with Recycled Plastic Fence

Storeroom now a Granny Flat and Washline Screened off with Recycled Plastic Fence

Area Outside Kitchen 'Before'

Area Outside Kitchen ‘Before’

Outside Kitchen Area 'now'

Outside Kitchen Area ‘now’


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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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Gorgeous Green Dream Kitchen

It’s a cliche that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  For families who love to cook and eat together, though, it is true. After many years of cooking (often alone) in a kitchen separate from the rest of the house I was excited about designing a space that was more open plan, with the main cooking and prepping area integrated with the dinning and lounge, but with a scullery area tucked out of sight.

View from dining room/lounge

View from dining room/lounge

I trust you will agree, that even if you have no interest in the green stuff, this is a beautiful kitchen.  You know you’re getting the green info any way, so here goes:

We chose bamboo for the cabinetry as it is the most extraordinary sustainable product.  It grows up to 10 cm per day (is actually a grass) and is as hard as nails by the time it is processed into a ‘plank’.  A far greener option than any wood you could choose. Better still, it has been heat processed to give it this gorgeous caramel colour, which will never scratch off like a stain/coloured varnish.  So for those of you who have been put off all the ‘blonde’ bamboo that’s mostly available this other option may be of interest.  Darryn Kemper from Woodkraft Kitchens did the installation.  Wonderful precision craftmanship, thank you Darryn, it was a joy watching you work!

Bamboo cabinetry edges close up

Bamboo cabinetry edges close up


I love the way the lamination is visible on the edges of the panels and doors – proudly announcing that this is a special material!

Composte work surface with 60% recycled content

Composte work surface with 60% recycled content

We found this fabulous work top product from Samsung.  It has aproximately 60% recycled content in it.  Natural granite is hard pressed to compete for beauty and no hillsides have been demolished in the process.  This particular composite has unusual copper coloured flecks in it – a beautiful tie-in to the colour of the bamboo.  Tracey and her team from Flintstone Granite and Marble did a wonderful job on the installation. Lots of tricky elements and cut outs all executed beautifully.

Recycling bins

Recycling bins

We thought long and hard about the re-cycling storage.  At one point we were thinking about ‘post boxes’ to outside bins. This could have led to a lot of broken glass so we went more conventional with large pull out drawers with off-the-shelf plastic bins lined with the bags that they go to the re-cycling depot in. I’ve made the bags out of large feed sacks simply by sewing on handles. Works like a charm.

Worm food drawer

Worm food drawer

After years of having containers with the worm food (vegetable, fruit cuttings) sitting on bowls on the counter top a special drawer was planned to scoop the peelings into as we go.  Far less unsightly.

Scullery area, small induction geyser under sink

Scullery area, small induction geyser under sink

We were also concerned about heating water and really wanted to stick to installing one solar geyser in the house.  The kitchen is at the furthermost point from the geyser which would not really have been practical as heat would have been lost over the distance. Our solution was this tiny induction geyser that sits under the sink.  It heats only 10L at a time, more than enough for a sink of dishes.  Perfect!

All the appliances are energy efficient.  Shop around and ask all the specific questions.  It is not just the expensive brands that do green appliances.  I am particularly thrilled with the induction hob.  After being a confirmed gas lover for many year (instant heat) I wasn’t easily convinced that it would work as well.  I am delighted to report that the heat is quicker, hotter and ‘off’ quickly to.  It is so easy to clean and ‘disappears’ into the work surface.  Best of all uses very little electricity, so it made sense as we are generating our own, not to bring another non-renewable product into the home.

Induction hob

Induction hob

The taps are also cleverly designed to minimize water use..  Grohe have a wonderful range of water wise sanware to choose from.

The splash back has no green credentials, but for those that are interested it is not mirror but brown glass painted black on the back which makes it somewhat reflective.  A beautiful final touch!

Bonus pic:  Dendrobium aggregatum growing on Bridelia next to verhanda

Bonus pic: Dendrobium aggregatum growing on Bridelia next to verhanda

 

 

This kitchen is a joy to cook in and we look forward to many many years of feeding family and friends from the beautiful space.

 


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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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Vermiculture: gardener’s gold

I have developed quite an emotional attachment to my worms.  For good reason, they are truly amazing and greatly underappreciated creatures.

Gardeners Gold.  the result of vermiculture is the Rolls Royce of compost

Gardeners Gold. the result of vermiculture is the Rolls Royce of compost

If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of worm farming I urge you to give it a go. For the yet to be initiated:

Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Wikipedia

Earthworms aerate, till and fertilize the soil, breaking down organic waste into plant-available forms, improving the soil structure and nutrient and water-holding qualities of soil.  darwin quoteCurrent farming practices that use chemical fertilizers, pesticides and over-tillage of the soil kills earthworms and other beneficial organisms, leading to poor soil fertility, loss of soil structure and soil erosion. At the same time, rotting organic waste dumped in landfills is polluting our underground water supply and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming.

Earthworms eat organic waste and give us healthy soil and organic fertilizer in return. The knock on effect is healthy plant growth and food that is significantly more nutritious and delicious.  Farming/gardening without man-made chemicals enables us to avoid poisoning our soil, environment and bodies. This perfect partnership is easy and fun to develop on a smaller scale at home.

There are numerous commercial systems available but you really don’t need a hi-tech operation to get started so go with what your budget allows or make your own.  My

Worm Farm. Simple design.  Effective.

Worm Farm. Simple design. Effective.

son has designed this ingenious system which enables us to maintain the health of the farm and easily harvest the ‘gardener’s gold’.  These simple re-cycled plastic boxes are divided by a section that has holes cut into it.  One side of the box is filled with food until full.  At this point we begin filling the other side leaving the first side to break down further.  As the food disappears the worms will move into the food rich section leaving behind the easy to harvest worm castings which contain up to 100-million microbes per gram – up to 20 times more than ordinary soil!  Added to your garden, these microbes continue to break down organic matter into plant-available forms, thereby enabling plant roots to take up nutrients that would otherwise have stayed bound in the soil. These beneficial organisms also suppress the growth of pathogens, which means healthy soil and healthy plants.  In addition to harvesting the castings we catch the worm wee (leachate) which drips through a hole in the base. It makes a wonderfully nutritious tea when mixed with water.  Tea for plants that is :-).

Rat nibbled aeration patch

Rat nibbled aeration patch

My farms, however, we getting a bit to much attention from other wildlife in the garden.  I realised that the aeration patches had been gnawed through and at least one rat was feasting on my red wrigglers.  I’m all for ‘the cycle of life’ etc. but realised my population was taking to much of a knock.  It was time for some maintenance and harvesting anyway so I got stuck in.  The old aeration patches

Air vent repaired with rat proof metal mesh

Air vent repaired with rat proof metal mesh

were replaced with wired mesh, the harvestable sides were harvested, the worm filled sides set aside and the whole box was given a good clean.  Worms were returned with a note on top to advise other family members to now only feed on the one side (yes it is necessary in my family!). Worms are now safe from predators and I have buckets of gold to mix into my veggies boxes.

repaired and restored

repaired and restored

P.S.  I know many of you are very anxious to see images of the incredible vertical garden.  I ask you to bear with me a little longer.  The scaffolding will be coming down soon and then you will get a much better sense of this exciting project.  If you can’t wait to get started on your own VG but need some help, get hold of the plant wizard James Halle on james@halle.co.za.  

Beautiful organic harvest grown in gardeners gold fed soil

Beautiful organic harvest grown in gardeners gold fed soil


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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

DSC00600The shuttering is off and a lot of the scaffolding is down. It’s really exciting to see the concrete in it’s ‘nearly finished’ state.  A light slurry and polish to come and it will be fabulous.  Very contemporary, very maintenance free, and although controversial in terms of being green, gets big points for it’s thermal properties  and longevity.

The column and portico entrance is looking a lot grander than expected!  I’m relieved that the outbuilding wall behind it is to become the vertical garden so all the harshness of the building will disappear into the green trees behind.

It’s wonderful to stand in the lounge/dinning area and seeDSC00594   how each section of windows presents a beautiful picture of lush shrubs and plants.  Come the humidity of Jan/Feb it will be an oasis of cool and peace. DSC00593

Check out the skylight in the middle of the lounge.  Above is the roof garden.  I’m planning to plant Aloe tenuoir around it so they can grow up the sides and be visible from below.

Aloe tenuoir

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Plektranthus species, perfect for shady areas

While I’m on my favourite theme, part of the update must include the ever expanding nursery for the roof and vertical gardens.  After the plumbers vacuumed out my forest under-story in search of the sewage man-hole I’ve made the most of the bare soil to propogate five species of Plektranthus – one of the most valuable and beautiful shade loving species in this part of the world.

Plants for roof garden

Plants for roof garden

My current garden also has all available space filled with pots and containers. Look at this gorgeous yellow Arum Lilly, it will be an absolute joy on the roof garden.

Yellow Arum Lilly

Yellow Arum Lilly

I’ve linked up forest pathways.  Very satisfying to recycle the old slate and timber.

recycled slate path

recycled slate path

Thee roof beams are in with the roof to follow soon.  Very exciting to see the final shape of the building emerge!

Roof beams above master suite

Roof beams above master suite


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Green Demolition Can Be Easy and Fun

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Slate roof conserved for another home.

One of the least green aspects of building or renovating is the waste that is created.  Figures from North America estimate that 3 600 kg of waste are typically thrown into the landfill during the construction of a 700 square metre home. Landfill operations are generally under pressure and are expensive.  Transportation to sites, normally at a distance from residential areas, increases the carbon footprint of a project. Waste from sources such as solvents or chemically treated wood can result in soil and water pollution.

Doors, sink etc to be re-used

Doors, sink etc to be re-used

What I’ve learned is that it is really easy and fun to minimize waste. Many  materials can be re-used. I’m saving items such as doors, stainless steel sinks, balustrading, metal gates curtain rails etc to put into the new house.

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Oregon floor gone to new home and cavity to be filled with rubble

The Oregon floor has already been lifted and installed in a new home.  The slate tiling is being carefully stacked for the same.

The cavity left in the floor will be filled with the rubble from the walls to be demolished.

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Brick paving will be reinvented to veggie planters

Re-purposing other materials just needs a little planning. For example, all the brickwork in the garden is being lifted and stacked to be reincarnated into veggie planters.  All decent solid wood from cabinetry and shelving will be re-used for storage units.In South Africa we have programmes whereby flourescent light bulbs and old shower heads can swopped for LED’s and energy-efficient products, green and economical.  Great combo!

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Conserving/protecting Pavetta lanceolata with fence. Thanks team!

Perhaps the greenest aspect of Day 1 of this project was measures to conserve.  A fence has been built around our precious Pavetta lanceolata (Bride’s Bush) which is located where it could easily get destroyed.  Thanks Pretty, Wise and 3rd person (still to learn name).  I appreciate that traditional building practices are not very sensitive to the vegetation on site and it means a great deal to us that these measures have been taken.

Lastly, the easiest and most fun part of green demo is donating the multitudes of materials that don’t have much resale value but are desirable to many. Friday was the first day of our build and it is clear that everything from the old melamine kitchen, windows, doors, in fact all manner of materials will find new homes.  People were literally walking in off the street asking what they might have.  So no excuses, South Africans.  We can massively reduce our contribution to landfill and help out a few people at the same time.