Stodels customer Mariana van Rooyen is an inspirational gardener who prioritises a sustainable approach above all else. Her lush garden – which offers respite from her busy schedule as the owner of a home-based arts and crafts studio in Durbanville – is the result of meticulously applying eco-friendly gardening methods over the years.
A pool becomes a reservoir
When Mariana and her husband, Hannes, bought the Western Cape property just over seven years ago, they renovated the house and started to plan a new, sustainable garden that would flourish without municipal water or electricity. As part of this process, they turned the property’s unattractive and unused pool into a rainwater reservoir.
“Hannes installed two submersible pumps – one to keep the water circulating and prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, and one to pump water from the pool to the garden,” Mariana says.
“We then diverted all the gutters from the house into the pool to allow us to collect enough rainwater to irrigate our garden right throughout summer. Once all these mechanisms were in place, we placed a deck over the entire pool,” she adds, pointing to the covered area that’s now used for braais.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Hannes lives and works abroad for several months a year, so Mariana and her gardener (who has worked for her since 2003) do most of the work themselves. The vast majority of the plants in the garden require only small amounts of water and where there once was grass, they’ve installed an artificial alternative and added river stones for visual impact.
As part of Mariana’s philosophy to “reduce, reuse and recycle”, many junk objects have found their way into the garden: an old frying basket has been turned into a container for a plant, a vintage tea set has become a quirky water feature, and a ladder that was destined for the rubbish heap has been upcycled into a display shelf for succulents.
One of Mariana’s favourite features is their home-made bug hotel, which the Van Rooyens installed to hide the Vibracrete wall that separates their property from their neighbour’s. “A friend brought us a fruit crate from Grabouw and we found another one at our local greengrocer. One was used as the base and the second crate was cut up and used to make the compartments. We then used elements that were lying around the property to decorate the bug house.”
Their local Stodels Garden Centre is a favourite stop for plants and other gardening supplies. In fact, a magnificent spekboom plant that reaches as high as the bug hotel’s roof was a free gift from Stodels a couple of years ago.
This winter Mariana will be enjoying the many secret “rooms” they’ve created in the garden – her favourite being a spot under a large oak tree that’s home to a family of squirrels. “Once the squirrels have had their monkey nuts, our day usually starts.”