Photographs Francois Oberholster

Keys to my castle

Jill Marion’s key collection began on her 21st birthday. “Instead of the usual engraved key, my parents presented me with an enormous rusty one from an old Scottish castle,” she explains. “The rest have been collected on my travels – they’re so easy to transport! Keys evolved to locks, bottle openers and even old penknives. The handcuffs are from the old Mossel Bay prison; they were given to me by an elderly gentleman who saw that I had an old jail door on the back of my bakkie.” Jill takes steel nails out of electrical cable clips and uses those to hang the bigger items on the wall; thinly rolled ‘sausages’ of Prestik work well for the smaller keys.

All bottled up

A vertical garden is still a great way to liven up a boring wall. Wehrner Lemmer made this interesting structure for the wall outside his Port Elizabeth coffee shop and restaurant RAAK! by welding additional fasteners to two ready-made galvanised grids and attaching them to the wall with screws and epoxy glue for good measure. The recycled bottles were cut open and attached with zip ties before an array of indigenous succulents was planted in them. “Our original idea was to plant herbs for use in our restaurant,” says Wehrner. “But we soon discovered that the position of the wall in the garden doesn’t present ideal growing conditions for edibles. However, our hardy succulent collection is now thriving.”

It’s a bug’s life

A bug hotel is nothing new but if yours is an exact replica of your house, you deserve a special mention! “My wife Gayle saw a similar bug hotel at Babylonstoren near Franschhoek,” says Johan Nel of Boston. “She immediately asked me to build one for her.” Johan outdid himself and built a miniature replica of their historic farm-style home (one of the first to be built in the area in about 1910) with a roof that lifts up so you can peek inside. “It’s actually a birdhouse on top of a bug hotel and we hope it attracts a feathered lodger soon. And if we ever decide to add on to our house one day, I can use this model as a reference.” The ‘hotel rooms’ are fitted with materials that create suitable habitats for certain insects. Wood, stones, bamboo, pine cones, bark, cork, sticks and tiles are popular for this purpose. “We particularly love the patterns created by the various shelves and their contents. This project is a wonderful way to explore your creativity,” says Johan with a satisfied grin.

This grass is always greener!

Wehrner and Annette Lemmer came up with an ingenious way to hide dry walling in their Port Elizabeth restaurant: they simply attached synthetic grass to it with little screws. “It adds great texture and interest to this corner,” says Wehrner. “We used offcuts and carefully measured and fitted the grass to great effect.

Basket case

Creative duo Tina and Hannes Maritz (you might remember the home they built in an old Wellington dairy, which we featured in our December 2015 issue) hung large woven baskets on their wooden boundary wall to soften the vertical lines. Now they can easily put cascading plants in the baskets and change the look whenever the mood takes them.

Watch your step

Cape Town artist Madeleine Kooyman van Manen made these beautiful stepping stones for her garden using sentimental ceramic hearts. “My friend Deirdre Taylor, a Pretoria artist, made several of these hearts for me when we moved from Pretoria to Cape Town at the end of 2012. Deirdre and I have been friends since 1990, so the messages on each heart mean a lot to me,” says Madeleine. “The stepping stones were laid in front of a small deck that my husband Peter built for me so I can sit under the shade of my giant coral tree. It was a struggle to get a garden going here, so this little nook was the perfect solution. This part of the garden has several shrubs with a lovely fragrance and I can see all of my birdbaths. Some of the plants also have sentimental value, so my mind tends to wander when I sit here…