PLACES

The woodland floor is rich in possibilities too, and we have created raised mounds in the clearings, partly for drainage, and partly to raise the plants above the tree root zone. Here belong the epimediums, a fascinating group related to the berberis, many of which thrive in our warm climate, as do the arisaemas, an Eastern group related to the arums. Some have spathes that resemble the Indian cobra so closely one wonders what purpose the mimicry could serve – mouse repellent? Hellebores, too, have proved to be reliable groundcovers, while the blue corydalis, easy once one understands its needs, never fails to create a sensation on open days. The species lilies thrive too in the lighter woodland soil. But pride of place belongs to a wonderful group undeservedly neglected by Cape Town gardeners, the cyclamen, which light up the woodland floor in the autumn, the winter, the spring, and occasionally even in the summer. One of the great strengths, I feel, of Fresh Woods is that it was never designed in one fell swoop, but evolved, rather, over many years. This has given it a flexibility denied to other ‘designed’ gardens, and enabled us to recover. from natural disasters and seize advantage where nature leads the way. Barbara Knox-Shaw

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