At the first site meeting in winter 2014 to discuss the garden for a new house Chris Maddams of Red Daffodil climbed a steep stretch of muddy hillside, covered in rubble & building material overlooking the city of Cape Town. The idea of a lush garden seemed distant. Nevertheless, the plot had a striking location - its aspect provides it with an amazing view across the City Bowl to the façade of Table Mountain, its back garden is the upper slopes of Signal Hill & Lion’s Head peeks over the trees behind. Today the plot has been transformed into a waterwise, fragrant garden, and it is in fact the original hillside that informed so many of the decisions not just of the landscape design but before that the architecture of the house.

Stuart Anderson of Loudon Perry Anderson Architects had wanted to create a garden house – one which blended into its natural surroundings and conformed to the topography to merge with the natural environment rather than competing with its surroundings as a tribute to this plot’s incredible location.

So while Red Daffodil were approached only once building was well underway the importance of the garden in fulfilling the design imperatives and removing the evidence of the building works was vital.

Where the architects had initially envisioned a garden on the natural slope Chris felt that it had been damaged by building works and its gradient represented an erosion risk during the winter rains. To mitigate this he pitched the concept of curved, asymmetrical low stone walls employing the very rock removed in the excavation of the pool. Lightly dressed for neatness but still retaining some roughness these walls created informal terraces for optimal plant growth conditions without compromising the architectural values. The stone terraces were then planted with cascading shrubs and groundcovers to further disguise and distract from the hardscaping so that the walls never became too overt and prevented them from dominating the site.

While having part of a National Park as your backyard may make many of us envious it caused the client to make an unusual request when it came to plant choices – namely that the plants selected be biased towards those with reputations for discouraging snakes. After all riders and walkers on Signal Hill regularly encounter venomous cobras and puff adders.

As someone who studied Botany at UCT & recognising the garden’s proximity to the wild hillside behind Chris was keen to employ a predominantly fynbos palette – so searching for aromatic plants to discourage reptile invaders led to Artemisia afra, Pelargonium spp., Plectranthus neochilis, and Tulbaghia violacea. The latter plants are reported to be used around kraals in the Eastern Cape but they are sour smelling, so to keep them away from the patios a wide band across the top of the property of just these two species was established.

It was also important to keep the plant choices to species that aren’t particularly tall – Chris chose lower growing buchus (Agathosma capensis), succulents (Aloe cooperi) and grasses (Aristida junciformis) as these wouldn’t create deep thickets for snakes to hide, plus it preserves the view of the hill from the lower levels of the house.

It wasn’t only the garden walls that required cascading plants – the architects had sought to further connect the structure to its environment through creating planters on the upstairs patios – off the kitchen/lounge and above the pool. Along with the wall that curves around the lap pool they asked that these be used to create a lush hanging garden effect to swamp the house in greenery. Tropical foliage tends to burn in the heat high on the slopes of Tamboerskloof where fynbos comes into its own, but the pool wall was a fairly shaded space. Adding a line of Cape Holly (Ilex mitis) for privacy added to the cooling effect so this has been planted with hardier indigenous ferns, Cyperus grasses, Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis formosana) and in a nod to the client’s request for yellow & red, Lotus berlothii cascaded over the plasterwork in a matter of months.

From the above its clear the garden isn’t 100% fynbos - exotic species were incorporated for specific reasons – the toad lilies to give a tropical feel with their lush leaves & orchid-like flowers, a large Leopard tree (Caesalpinia ferrea) was inset in the patio paving as the client’s specific request while prostrate rosemary & smaller-growing lavender were added around the lawn to add to the fragrant nature of the garden. Nevertheless, all exotics were only chosen if they could handle the hot conditions of the site in a low rainfall environment.

Today the garden with its mix of fynbos and waterwise planting is an aromatic tumble of textures and seasonal colours that add to the beauty of its surroundings, far removed from its bare & muddy origins.

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Chris Maddams
Owner of Red Daffodil Landscaping and Garden Design

Most referred to gardening book of all time?
Paul Bargay's The Balanced Garden
Your most inspirational garden?

Piece of Machinery/Equipment you couldn't do without?

Top Plant?
Buxus faulkner

How is sustainability embedded within your business?
We focus on organic methods, encourage recycling and edible gardens.

Biggest life influence?
My Mom started our business and I learnt about landscaping from her so even without her raising me, it's definitely her.

Describe yourself in three words
Talkative, always learning

Thee people you'd like to invite to dinner?
3 best mates

Lifelong fan of (sporting team)?

Favourite Drink?
Coffee and good wine.
Red Daffodil Gardens in Cape Town Red Daffodil Gardens in Cape Town Red Daffodil Gardens in Cape Town
Cape Town hairdresser Wim van Zyl has created a secluded garden in the space adjacent to his Vredehoek home.

What is the story behind your garden?
When I bought my flat I had no access to the garden; I could only see it from my window. So I put in sliding doors to gain access to it. Back then, it was derelict and needed love and attention. I developed it and now look after all the gardens in the block. Valerie Stewart and Chris Maddams from the landscaping business Red Daffodil helped me with the planning and planting. I have a love affair with this garden.

What inspired you to create it?
The garden has become an extension of my home, a continuation of my living space. The white iron bench was my bed 25 years ago; the wooden table used to be my coffee table. I was gifted a baby Victorian chair by my neighbours, which became a plant holder. The little doll used to be on display in my bathroom. Many things moved from their spaces inside to become outside furniture and decoration. My father built the garden temple. It is very special to me, a monument that we built together and that will last for years.

What do you do in the garden?
It is where I eat, relax and find myself.

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Red Daffodil were recently featured on Property 24. Read the full article here:

No one should be too surprised by the headlines warning us about drought conditions because South Africa is a fairly arid country. Grass is the cheapest to install but down the line you’ll realise that it needs more water, more fertiliser and more labour than your beds. As such, it’s easy to see why having a lawn is a costly thing. This is according to Chris Maddams from Red Daffodil who says South Africa’s summer rainfall areas are facing a dry festive season.

He says even in times of plentiful rainfall, water wise gardening is essential when you consider that the cost of municipal water can only increase.

But, he says water wise gardening faces many challenges, the most serious of which is how much South Africans love their lawns.

“When talking to clients, I am often fascinated by how fixated they are with this one aspect of the possible design. Lawns must be made as large as possible, irrespective of any other design concepts that may be mentioned.”

Most often, Chris says this is a request from parents who are eager to offer their kids the kind of space to run in that they may have enjoyed before high walls and closed in spaces came to dominate suburbia. He says he can’t help feeling it’s a status symbol too - a little peacocking to show the neighbours. Unlike waiting for rain, you can be fairly sure that your showers and washing machines are going to be a constant, so reusing this water on your lawn is a great recycling initiative.The problem is that lawns are the least water wise aspect of a garden. In fact, Chris says he spends a lot of time each work week discussing why lawns are the most cost-intensive part of a garden. For sure, grass is the cheapest to install but down the line you’ll realise that it needs more water, more fertiliser and more labour than your beds. As such, it’s easy to see why having a lawn is one of the costly aspects of your garden.

Chris says a few years ago, when there were strict water restrictions in the Cape, clients came to him asking for limited lawns and more sustainable solutions. He says dry lawns grow brown quickly, while water wise shrubs keep your space looking greener for far longer before they begin to wilt. He says after a year or two without restrictions, the memories seem to have faded and it’s back to huge parks of moisture-hungry grass.

And lest you think your borehole protects you from this possibility, the number of such installations has increased dramatically, meaning that the combined draw may drop the water table drastically. In fact, Chris says he has heard of many people whose boreholes ran dry in the Cape last time when they had restrictions, and a costly drilling to greater depth was required. In time, he says he expects Government to step in and provide restrictions on this as well.

Chris shares tips on how to create a water wise lawn…

1. Limit the size of your lawn to what is needed
Harsh mowing practices expose the roots and soil to the heat, leading to greater loss of moisture.Chris says often he sees ‘dead space’ covered in grass down the sides of houses or round the corners. He says these areas are never used, but require constant mowing and watering. He says homeowners should use gravel areas or turn these spaces into water wise shrubberies.

2. Consider your species of grass
Most lawns are kikuyu - its fast growth means it can handle traffic the best, but its high growth comes with high demand for water. Buffalo grass uses less than half the water and the interval between mowing is twice as long. Berea and cynodon are also more water wise than kikuyu.

3. Water storage
Water storage is useful to many. Chris says, however, his issue is it is limited in its effects when you need it the most. When drought conditions take hold, your storage capacity can easily be depleted, and the lack of rain means it won’t be replenished. Professional systems ensure 100% coverage, and computers mean you can fine-tune the schedule so the correct amount of water is delivered.This is most apparent in the Cape, where the long dry summers mean tanks are exhausted by mid-summer even in a good year. During summer rainfalls, Chris recommends that areas likeGauteng and Natal collect water.

4. Grey water
Unlike waiting for rain, you can be fairly sure that your showers and washing machines are going to be a constant, so reusing this water on your lawn is a great recycling initiative. Various companies offer different ways of achieving this too.

5. Make sure your mower isn’t set too low
Harsh mowing practices expose the roots and soil to the heat, leading to greater loss of moisture. This is especially vital with buffalo lawns.

6. Irrigation systems are not a luxury in gardens
Who hasn’t turned on the tap, got distracted and ended up turning one corner of the garden into a temporary swamp? Professional systems ensure 100% coverage, and computers mean you can fine-tune the schedule so the correct amount of water is delivered.

7. Feeding
Correct feeding means your lawn is healthy, and healthy lawns can withstand dryer conditions. Dumping food is not a short-term solution. Feeding correctly every season means your lawn will withstand stresses in the next.

8. Water loss is not just due to heat
​The more wind your garden is exposed to, the more you will need to water it. Chris recommends windbreaks from walls and trees as they help address this issue.

We are proud to announce that our very own, Luke from Red Daffodil has been asked to return to the Grand Designs Home and Garden Show, as this year's MC. With his extensive experience in landscaping and intricately-designed open spaces, Luke has a close relationship with Grand Designs, and compliments the event well. 

Keep your eye out for him on the day. The event is at the Coca Cola Dome, Northgate 29 - 31 May 2015.

Read more about Grand Designs Home and Garden Show here:  www.granddesignslive.co.za
For all of your latest gardening tips and advice, follow us on Instagram by clicking the image below

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We wish Luke all the best on his upcoming cycle with the Rhino Africa team through Damaraland in aid of Rhino conservation.

As we all know, Rhino Poaching in Southern Africa is a huge concern and together we can try to protect our Rhinos.  Click here for more info.


Whether your green space is an urban enclave or an expansive garden, landscaper Chris Maddams of Red Daffodil offers up 10 trends to look out for during the months ahead…

1. INDIGENOUS TREES These will grow up to become the centrepiece of your outside space. Just be careful to plant varieties such as a lavender tree (Heteropyxis natalensis) or forest elder (Nuxia floribunda) that won’t grow too big.

2. ORGANIC GARDENS Not just chemical-free compost and fertiliser, this includes pesticides and herbicides, too.

3. GRASSES Planted en masse, such as in this Franchesca Watson-designed garden, and with so many indigenous varieties to choose from, grasses are being found in gardens everywhere.

4. MIRRORS These make a space look much bigger than it actually is. Garden designers have taken this trick outside and are using mirrors to reflect the most attractive aspects of a garden.

5. VERTICAL GARDENS Carefully planted living walls can create several square metres of garden in places where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to have plants. These green walls are also a contemporary way of softening an imposing facade.

6. VEGETABLE AND HERB GARDENS These are back in fashion as people become more conscious about what they eat. You can read more about starting your own edible garden here.

7. GRAVEL Dig up your lawn and replace it with large formal flowerbeds and gravel pathways for an easy-to-maintain garden that requires a lot less water.

8. AWAY WITH POOLS With the price of electricity going up, landscapers are reporting filling as many pools as they see being built.

These are becoming popular green spaces thanks to new waterproofing products and lighter substrates that allow you, for example, to lay a lawn over a tiled patio. Read more about green roofs here.

10. TOPIARIES Not only the ‘lollipop’ variety on thin stems, but large shaped shrubs, offer the formality of hedges and create volumes of green to provide structure and contrast to the more fun and colourful elements around them.

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Chris Maddams of Red Daffodil, www.reddaffodil.co.za, which has branches in Cape Town, says that being water-wise, having an understanding and sympathy for your local environment in planting indigenous, and aiming for organic principles in pest care and feeding have been established for a while. "Principles that are accelerating are definitely anti-lawn – seeing as they take the greatest amount of water and upkeep – and filling in or moving swimming pools. Plant-wise, grasses are noticeable in their popularity. because they need to be planted en masse, they suit both modern and traditional styles, plus we are seeing new varieties of both indigenous and exotic grasses that are suitable for smaller gardens."

Hot Tip: "My best advice if you want to go indigenous is to take a look at the trees you have," says Chris. "Most of the mature trees I see in urban gardens are exotics, so why not go out and buy an indigenous tree, plant it as close as possible (or choose something that is used to growing under a canopy like a Forest Alder or Nuxia floribunda) and over time trim back the exotic until the new tree can replace it without you ever having to lose your privacy or shade - in effect creating a succession plan." Jane says, "Frankly I am not really influenced by trends and feel that it is of prime importance that the garden and house are in harmony. Each garden has its own unique character as does its owner. as with any art form, it is subjective and individual. The house, trees, shrubs and lawns must form part of an integrated whole. However, in the light of the availability of water in South Africa, I would say that the general trend is towards water-wise gardening and indigenous plantings."

Read the original article here.