Three Trees and a Rock

At the top I perched on the large rock for a rest and was unexpectedly hit like a ton of bricks by a thought.

The very large cumbersome tree had grown through the fence and was dying in parts. With a risk of it falling in a storm and damaging the house it had to go. Dad, of course, was only too happy to oblige with his chainsaw (blog here).

I hate seeing trees chopped down but this property had been neglected for several years before my sister and parents moved in and a fresh start, albeit a brutal one, was needed.

My sister had distant plans for a pergola and seating area in that corner. She didn’t know how they were ever going to move the large cumbersome rock at the top but envisaged it gone. However with all the other renovations needed on the property, this part of the garden was a distant dream … except to a gardener like me.

On my fourth trip back, 18 months later, the patch needed weeding. Tackling them one day I spontaneously chipped some make-shift steps in the sandy slope with my spade so Khaya and I could work on it.

At the top I perched on the large rock for a rest and was unexpectedly hit like a ton of bricks by a thought.

This enormous boulder felt quite comfortable to sit on – it had a smooth flat surface and happened to be the right height for a bench! If three trees were planted in the correct position on the slope they would form a canopy to provide the shade and effect of a pergola but at a vastly reduced cost! Not only that but the roughly hewn steps could become a feature – a winding staircase leading up to this shelter.

Dad, almost blind, tottered up to enjoy a high vantage point.

When I’m stuck for ideas on making a garden area, I often find that while clearing the space creative ideas start to flow. I love that loose plans then take on a life of their own.

View down from rock bench

Two days later this new garden was born. We repurposed pavers and breeze blocks from elsewhere on the property and used re-positioned plants and cuttings to fill the spaces. Smaller rocks (there are heaps of them!) were positioned in various spots to help stabilise the soil.

Three trees circled – they look so spindly at the moment!

All I purchased was the trees! Alas I didn’t make note of the type but had sought the advice of the local garden centre who were great in helping me decide what was appropriate for the following requirements:

  • Suitable for the ecosystem within the Valley of Thousand Hills
  • Root system that would hold on a sandy slope
  • Medium sized and fairly quick growing
  • Able to be pruned to form a canopy
  • Small leaves that allow some dappled light into the area

Sadly I had to return to New Zealand leaving what I refer to as my Inganda (garden in Zulu) behind. Family keep me updated with regular photos showing the progress. One day I hope to return and relax atop that bench under the African sky. 

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