Gorgeous Green House

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


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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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Last Three Beetroot of the Season

DSC07888As I pull out the last three enormous and beautiful beetroot in the veggie garden I have pause to reflect on our first winter in the Gorgeous Green House. Spring is now upon us and it time to take stock of what has been fairly experimental but also haphazard time in the veggie garden.

The beetroot have obviously been a huge success but I didn’t plant anywhere near enough! Most of the carrots were planted outside the monkey cage as our cheekiest neighbors raid the obviously fruiting things like tomatoes and aubergine.  Not so, I came home one day to find 80% dug up and eaten (very messily too).  The survivors were transplanted inside the veggie cage.  They are very sweet and the funny shapes are very appealing. Know now for next time.

This bright and beautiful collection of organically grown produce is more than just a delicious supper.  The process of nurturing tiny seeds into this abundance brings such joy.  If you already grow food you know what I’m talking about!  If you don’t why not give it a try? Even if you don’t have a garden you could grow some herbs, lettuces or chilies in a pot for a sunny windowsill. I promise you, the potential for getting hooked is quite high.


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Wonderful Professional Images of the Gorgeous Green House

Our architects Sagnelli Associate Architects are entering our project into the  AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture.   The exceptionally talented Grant Pitcher has been commissioned to take the photos for entry.

http://www.grantpitcher.co.za/architectural-photography/the-gorgeous-greenhouse/

My favourite is this one. It is a birds eye view shows off the solar technology, roof garden and eco-pool from a vantage point not seen before.

gorgeous green house

Good luck Chen Sagnelli and team for the competition!


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Indigenous Gardener Magazine Showcases Vertical Garden

The Indigenous Garden Magazine  inspires, informs and advises not only on indigenous gardening but the larger eco-systems they contribute too. Not only gardeners enjoy this publication as there is much to offer all people who have an interest in the natural world.

The Gorgeous Green House has been thrilled to share aspects of our gardening journey and the latest article features our vertical garden.  Enjoy and sign up, its free and fabulous!

http://issuu.com/theindigenousgardener/docs/december_2014/1

 Indigenous GArdener cover page


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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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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