Sprout Conference 2019

Hello Cape Town!

Hello Cape Town!

In the first week of June Carien Momsen from Pureline Interior Design joined me for the #SproutConference2019 to Cape Town. It was a lightning trip packed to the brim with experiences that included art, culture, beautiful landscapes, delicious food and even time with good friends.

Our Itinerary

Our Itinerary

Our first site visit was the breathtaking Dylan Lewis Sculpture garden in Stellenbosch. A truly memorable experience that really showcases how the landscape can be a sculptural element in itself. Dylan Lewis laid the paths out over many years with great attention to detail and the recommended visitors walk allows one to appreciate the sculptures in a dynamic way from many perfectly planned angles. The planting is focused on indigenous plants, particularly fynbos, of which a large selection of unusual varieties have been sourced from Kirstenbosch. The landscape and amazing planting combinations really were a highlight of this trip!

Sculptures, water, mountains - a language of beauty and nature

Sculptures, water, mountains - a language of beauty and nature

Loved the lime green and striking red colours of these Crocosmias

Loved the lime green and striking red colours of these Crocosmias

Our celebratory lunch was held at Tokara’s restaurant where wine and fine dining was a feast for the senses. We also enjoyed the Art on display including the enormous and intricately woven tapestry (two sections, each 2.2 high x 3.5m wide) by Sayed Mahmoud from Egypt. A different type of tapestry was the woven pathways of the gardens at Babylonstoren which we explored even though it started to rain!

Fine Dining

Fine Dining

Tapestry at Tokara

Tapestry at Tokara

Our second day of exploration and inspiration started with a visit to Truth Roastery and 117Kloof for coffee and croissants as well as the Company Gardens - always a treat to visit. I love watching how people interact with this space and the different activities that take place here. The entrance to the Gardens is dominated by a massive timber Arch installed as part of the Design Indaba 2018 to honour Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Company Gardens

Our next stop was the impressive urban precinct known at the Silos at the V&A Waterfront, particularly the Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Modern Contemporary Art) Art Gallery. The building feels like an artwork and has been crafted out of forty-two concrete columns, each 33 metres tall with a diameter of 5.5 metres. It was designed by London’s Heatherwick Studios and the central atrium space, polished concrete surfaces and layout of the building generates an awe-inspiring reaction.

Following our experience of the museum we had a quick delicious lunch at the restaurant on the top floor with a beautiful view over the harbour and then spent some time exploring the V&A Waterfront.

Zeitz MOCAA
Exploring the Waterfront

Exploring the Waterfront

Our final site visit was the Norval Foundation in Tokai where we again saw beautiful artwork inside and outside the building. The sculpture park has beautiful indigenous planting combinations and although it was raining at this stage we still enjoyed our time here. We had a quick coffee break at Skotnes Restaurant before heading to the airport for our flight back to Johannesburg.

A huge thank you again to my amazing, incredible Executive PA for arranging this conference! It was a wonderful experience that filled us with inspiration for the year, hopefully until #SproutConference2020 :)

View of the Wetland running adjacent the Norval Foundation

View of the Wetland running adjacent the Norval Foundation

Indigenous Planting

Indigenous Planting

Emmarentia - Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

Beautiful Autumn Colours at Emmarentia Dam

Beautiful Autumn Colours at Emmarentia Dam

Most people know the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens as ‘Emmarentia’ and think of it more as a Park than a Botanical Gardens. I certainly was not aware of the behind the scenes operations of this green space – there are greenhouses, a herbarium, administration offices, and a compost site all hidden from view to the average user.

Recreation

 Emmarentia is a beautiful, well loved park in the heart of Johannesburg. You will find people of every age and culture enjoying this green space  – runners, cyclists, families with kids riding bikes or feeding the ducks (actually Egyptian Geese but most people call them ducks), young adults picnicking, yoga on boards on the dam, people searching for Pokemon, bridal parties taking photos in the rose gardens, dog walkers, Frisbee or volleyball players, market goers (The Linden Market is held here once a quarter), and music lovers (the park is also a venue for several concerts including Joburg Day).

Egyptian Geese on Emmarentia Dam

Egyptian Geese on Emmarentia Dam

Maintenance 

Lindelani Nwedo from Johannesburg City Parks, in charge of operations and maintenance at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, explained that the Park has 14 full time employees (I thought it would have been much more!) but makes use of co-operatives such as Jozi at Work together with EPWP for additional manpower to tackle the enormous task of maintaining the 81 hectare park. There are six shed houses that contain mother plants so that all plants in the Gardens can be replaced should they be lost due to fire, flood or drought. The nurserymen who grow the plants in the sheds have green fingers and although the plants are not for sale to the public they are often donated to schools or used for environmental education. Rare or special plants are also exhibited at certain show days such as the Succulent, Horticultural or Bonsai Societies Shows.

Alien invasive control is an important part of the Park’s maintenance programme although the task is often too great for the maintenance team. The Emmarentia Residents Association provides assistance where possible and on 20 October 2018 almost 100 people were involved in removing poisoned invasive alien plants, clearing a clogged dam and cleaning up litter.

Succulents housed in Greenhouses - viewing by prior arrangement with JHB City Parks

Succulents housed in Greenhouses - viewing by prior arrangement with JHB City Parks

Orchids in Greenhouse

Orchids in Greenhouse

History

I was interested to learn more about the Park and its surrounding suburb’s history from a book written by Lucille Davie called “A Journey through Johannesburg’s Parks, Cemeteries and Zoo”, published by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo. Here are some insights from the book: “The botanical garden was originally part of the large farm, Braamfontein, named after the Spruit running through the area. The farm belonged to Gerrit Bezuidenhout, one of the first Boer farmers in the area, who received the title deeds in 1858. The farm was sub-divided several times and the Eastern part bought for £4500 by Lourens Geldenhuys in 1886, the year the main gold reef was discovered in Johannesburg. Lourens had three sons, namely Frans, Dirk and Louw. Frans and Louw divided the farm in two, the division running along the present day Orange Road. The each built themselves a farmhouse, both of which still exist, while Dirk went farming at Ermelo. Frans married Judith Grobbelaar and built what is now Marks Park Sports Clubhouse. She gives her name to Judith Road in Emmarentia, while Louw’s wife, Emmarentia Botha, gave her name to the suburb. Over the years Louw sold portions of his farm, which became the suburbs of Melville, Richmond, Braamfontein, Parkview, Forest Town, Westdene, Parkhurst and Parktown. Louw gave to the community in several ways: he founded the Langlaagte Kindertehuis for Boer War orphans in 1902 (now the Abraham Kriel Maria Kloppers Kinderhuis), founded the Braamfontein Government School (present day Louw Geldenhuys School) allowed Boers returning from the was to settle on his land paying some of their profits to him in exchange for land, and he was also actively involved in politics.

The Dabulamanzi Canoe Club is situated on the opposite side of Emmarentia Dam. The clubhouse was built in 2004 and has an active membership from recreational paddlers to world champions. The club has a development programme in the form of the Soweto Canoe Recreation Club which is beautifully captured in the film “Beyond the River”.

Sunset over Emmarentia Dam

Sunset over Emmarentia Dam

 The Park consists of some 8000 trees, large lawn areas and a network of pathways that connect the various themed spaces. There is a Shakespeare Garden containing herbs referred to by Shakespeare in his plays; the Chapel Garden where bridal couples can take their vows; the Western Walk; the Herb Garden filled with traditional culinary  herbs as well as African medicinal herbs; the Succulent Garden that was established in 2006 and contains Aloes, Cactuses and Pelargoniums; and the firm favourite by hundreds of visitors every weekend - the Rose Garden - laid out in 1964 and planted with over 3000 roses in several terraces.

Large Lawn Areas at Emmarentia

Large Lawn Areas at Emmarentia

Terraced Rose Garden

Terraced Rose Garden

Certainly this Park has so much to offer and gives one a break from busy city life and is dearly loved by all those that frequent it. I know my daughters particularly love the soft serve that can be bought at the kiosk and enjoyed in the children’s play area.

 

More Information:

Davie, L. (2014) “A Journey through Johannesburg’s Parks, Cemeteries and Zoo”, published by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

 JHB City Parks Link - http://www.jhbcityparks.com/index.php/2015-04-29-12-30-27/find-a-park-contents-64?task=view&id=123

 Emmarentia Residents Association - http://era.org.za/

Dabulamanzi Canoe Club - http://dabulamanzi.co.za/

The Linden Market - https://thelindenmarket.com/

Joburg Day - http://www.947.co.za/joburgday/

Lowveld Botanical Gardens

Water Lilies on a Pond at the Lowveld Botanical Gardens

Water Lilies on a Pond at the Lowveld Botanical Gardens

The Lowveld Botanical Gardens, located at the confluence of the Nel and Crocodile Rivers in Mbombela (previously Nelspruit) Mpumalanga, has a special place in my heart. I grew up in Nelspruit and the indigenous trees and shrubs of the bushveld evokes a comforting nostalgia. When I think of the Lowveld images of Paperbarks, Euphorbias, Aloes, Kiaat and Lowveld Chestnut trees (to name a few) come to mind. My love for nature and indigenous plants has grown as a direct result of the influence of growing up surrounded by the natural beauty the Lowveld. I guess this was one of the reasons I chose to have my wedding photographs taken in the Botanical Gardens and fondly remember walking along the draw bridge to the restaurant where the reception was held.

Nelspruit Waterfall / Cascades

Nelspruit Waterfall / Cascades

Nelspruit Cascades
Nelspruit Cascades

The Lowveld Botanical Gardens boasts a beautiful display of inviting green spaces, impressive trees and amazing cycads. The Garden hosts concerts, wild flower shows, art shows, and plant sales while weddings, baby showers and other events can be celebrated at the Red Leaf Fig Tea Garden. A children’s playground provides opportunities for families to relax and the kids to have fun with an added educational element.

Playground at the Lowveld Botanical Gardens, near the Tea Garden

Playground at the Lowveld Botanical Gardens, near the Tea Garden

Red Leaf Fig Tea Garden

Red Leaf Fig Tea Garden

The Garden is home to the largest man-made African Rainforest in an area of approximately 5 hectares along the Crocodile River. It is said to have the largest collection of South African cycads (and fig trees), more than 700 tree species and more than 3000 plant species in cultivation.

Large areas of Lawn with Cycads and Trees

Large areas of Lawn with Cycads and Trees

 “Genesis of a Garden, Lowveld Botanical Garden 1969-1981” is a book written by Elise Buitendag who was involved from the inception of the gardens and worked there during it’s first twelve years of establishment. The beautiful coffee table book includes historical information, photographs, personal memoirs and stunning botanical artworks by the author.

Elise Buitendag is a qualified botanist and acknowledged as one of South Africa’s professional botanical artists having authored and illustrated several publications. Her paintings are mainly inspired by the wonder of plants, as encountered daily in the Lowveld bush and in her garden.

“The area donated by both the town council and HL Hall & Sons had a dramatic beauty, with its roaring cascades and rugged landscape, but was considered by many as unsuitable, primarily because of the Y-shaped junction of the Crocodile and Nels River which would divide the garden into three distinct sections. To create a garden in such a diverse and fragmented terrain seemed a very ambitious undertaking.” (Page 9)

“Another tree, the huge fever-tree at the lapa has gained monumental stature and has become an icon in the garden. This tree was grown from seed sown in 1973. I remember how the lanky little seedling grew so rapidly that it couldn’t support itself and had to be tied to a pole to keep it upright. Today everyone who loves the Garden takes pleasure in this beautiful lemon-yellow to lime-green giant.” (Page 161)

Fever Tree

Buitendag’s book is a wonderful depiction of the Garden’s history and looks at the Place, the Plants and the People. The beautiful artworks create a visual experience for the reader that strongly evokes the sense of place that this special garden holds.

Elise Buitendag Artwork in her Book “Genesis of a Garden”

Elise Buitendag Artwork in her Book “Genesis of a Garden”

For more information please visit: https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/lowveld/

Bordeaux South Park

Entrances are highlighted by Arches and Aloes, welcoming you into the Park

Entrances are highlighted by Arches and Aloes, welcoming you into the Park

Tucked away in the boomed off suburb of Bordeaux South (the suburb is roughly located between Hurlingham and Blairgowrie in Randburg) in Johannesburg, lies a beautiful community park. The Park is well maintained and cared for through the efforts of the active residents association (BSRA- http://www.bsra.co.za/) who have invested a fair amount of money into upgrading the Park and this has really made such a difference.

A quote from the Bordeaux South Residents Association website:

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” George Bernard Shaw

Clear Pathways, Seating, Litter Bins all contribute to making this an enjoyable park

Clear Pathways, Seating, Litter Bins all contribute to making this an enjoyable park

Bike Track with Traffic Lights for Kids

Bike Track with Traffic Lights for Kids

The Park is well used by families because of the extensive play equipment making this an amazing playground for kids of all ages. There are shady spots for picnics, several seating options, a volleyball court, a bike track with miniature traffic lights, and even a small free community library that residents donate books to.

Free Community Library

Free Community Library

New jungle gyms for smaller tots have recently been installed with rubber matting surfaces.

New jungle gyms for smaller tots have recently been installed with rubber matting surfaces.

Signage indicates the appropriate ages for the play equipment

Signage indicates the appropriate ages for the play equipment

Water Bowls for Dogs visiting the Park

Water Bowls for Dogs visiting the Park

The Bordeaux South Residents Association is making a difference at improving their suburb

The Bordeaux South Residents Association is making a difference at improving their suburb

Such a lovely park to visit if you have kids. Take Note that there are no ablution facilities at the Park.

What is ILASA?

ILASA logo

 If you are working in the green industry in South Africa you will most likely have heard of ILASA (Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa). ILASA  is a voluntary organisation that is mandated to grow and promote the profession and concept of landscape architecture in the South African environment.

 Goals of ILASA (taken from their website)

·         Advance dignity and competence of the profession

·         Uplift previously disadvantaged societies

·         Advancement of professional competence through education

·         Support sustainable ecological planning and management

·         Support of public involvement in planning and design process

·         Promotion of excellence through peer review recognition

·         Increase visibility of the profession to government and society

·         Promotion of the landscape architecture profession

ILASA shares information to its members that is relevant to the landscape architecture profession as well as highlighting national and regional events that are of interest. There is also a page on their website where companies post job vacancies so if you are looking for employment as a landscape architect this would be a good place to start.

I love ILASA because it is a means of holding the landscape architecture community together. It provides opportunities to acquire CPD points through various events which are educational and enjoyable. Events are often an opportunity for old friends and ex-colleagues to see each other and catch up. All the events are arranged by the regional organizing committees (Gauteng, KZN and Cape) and this includes the conference and awards function.

I volunteered on the Gauteng committee for a number of years and really enjoyed the interaction with other landscape architects as well as growing relationships with the other committee members. I encourage other landscape architects to become involved and volunteer their time towards the ILASA committee so the load can be shared and the benefits can be enjoyed by all.

ILASA provides valuable opportunities for networking, business connections and experiences that are enriching and educational and it is worthwhile to be a member.

 Visit https://www.ilasa.co.za/ for further information.

5 Things to Consider when Upgrading your Office Garden:

Whether your business is big or small it’s important that your office gardens look good. Here are 5 things to consider when considering an office landscape upgrade:

1.       Main Entrance. This is the first impression your client gets of your company and it should be a positive and inviting experience. It should look well designed and invoke a sense of delight. I often like to include plants that are striking or sculptural as well as plants that are colourful and make a big impact. Often using plants that match the company’s corporate colours is a way for the landscape to enhance the company signage on or around the building.

Existing Entrance

Existing Entrance

Example of a Proposed Entrance Upgrade Impression

Example of a Proposed Entrance Upgrade Impression

 

2.       Parking Area. Consider how your client will move from the parking area to the reception or main entrance and what they will experience along that journey. Are the paths easy to find, do they invite people towards the building, is the pathway easy to navigate and are there trees to provide shade? For other pathways in the office park you may want to consider seating benches, litter bins, drinking fountains and a variety of spatial experiences as people move through the landscape.

How do Clients move from your Parking Area to your Reception Area?

How do Clients move from your Parking Area to your Reception Area?

3.       Spaces for Employees. Employee satisfaction can be greatly increased by providing outdoor spaces for them to enjoy their lunch or have a smoke break in an attractive outdoor space. Providing seating areas for small group gatherings for break away discussions is also an important consideration. Courtyards can be activated, gardens can be redesigned so that there are smaller sheltered spaces for people to sit in.

Create Spaces for Employees to Sit and Relax in the Landscape

Create Spaces for Employees to Sit and Relax in the Landscape

 4.       An Element of Fun. We all need a break from the stress of the office and what a great way to treat your employees on a Friday afternoon or on that special occasion. A large area of lawn can be used for a variety of functions, from putting up marquees to playing a game of soccer. You can also add this element of fun through creating a herb or sensory garden or you may have a pool area on site where these types of events can happen. Make sure these spaces are well defined and attractive to be enjoyed to their full potential.

 

5.       Maintenance. A very important factor to consider for any garden. Who will keep those newly planted plants alive, trim them, mulch them, check for pests etc. especially over periods when the company is closed and no-one is around to see that they need attention.

Those are 5 of many things to consider. Obviously an important consideration is budget, but it helps to have a landscape masterplan in place so that the installation can take place in phases or as the budget allows. The first step is to have a design and plan in place of what you want to do.

If you would like me to help you redesign and upgrade your existing office garden or if you are building a new office park then please contact me to arrange a site visit. #loveyourgarden

Gina Switala

Landscape Architect

gina@sproutlandscapes.co.za



What is a Professional Landscape Architect and How do I become one?

i want to be a landscape architect

Firstly, let’s clarify what Landscape Architecture is: According the University of Pretoria’s description, “Landscape architecture is the science and art of the design of outside areas for the use and enjoyment of people. Parks, game reserves, recreational areas and marinas are only a few of the environments which the landscape architect designs. They create urban oases in the form of plazas and pedestrian routes, and design environments around shopping centres and residential developments. The landscape architect can join a private firm, start an own business, or accept employment in central, provincial or local government in departments that handle water usage and research, forestry, environmental matters, sport, recreational and fishing areas, and nature conservation.” (https://www.up.ac.za/faculty-of-education/yearbooks/2017/pdf/programme/12132019 accessed on 4 February 2019)

 

The first step to becoming a landscape architect is to study a course in landscape architecture at an accredited institution. At the moment in South Africa there are only two institutions that offer this course: the University of Pretoria offers a three year undergraduate programme (BSc LArch) and two year post graduate programme (BLHons and ML(Prof)) and the University of Cape Town offers a two year postgraduate programme (BLHons and ML(Prof)). Sadly, there is talk that the University of Pretoria is planning to close the undergraduate programme down.

Once you have completed the course you need to register as a candidate with SACLAP (South African Council for the Landscape Architectural Profession). SACLAP is the governing council that oversees the Landscape Architectural Profession. A candidate will then work under a mentor (registered professional landscape architect) for a number of years learning and gaining experience until they feel competent enough to write the professional exams. A portfolio also needs to be submitted and SACLAP will grade individuals and promote them from candidate landscape architects to professional landscape architects according to this assessment and their exam grades.

Once registered, a professional landscape architect is required to pay professional fees and submit CPD documentation on an annual basis. Certain projects can only be carried out by professional landscape architects.

 

Institutions to contact for further information:

 

  • SACLAP

    http://saclap.org.za/

  • ILASA

    https://www.ilasa.co.za/

  • University of Pretoria

    https://www.up.ac.za/architecture

  • University of Cape Town

    http://www.apg.uct.ac.za/apg/landscape-architecture

     

Why you deserve a beautiful garden:

smile.jpg

Life is hectic, chaotic even. People live fast-paced, stressful lives balancing work, family, traffic, deadlines and commitments. You often just need a place to stop. And Breathe. An outdoor space provides the opportunity to listen to the birds chirping; feel dappled sunlight or a soft breeze on your face; and a place to experience that sense of peace that only nature can bring.

 

A landscape or garden is any outdoor space that can provide this solace. It can be the backyard at your office, the neighbourhood park, the hospital courtyard, or your garden at home. Humans crave a connection with nature and a well-designed garden can bring a feeling of balance and calm to the soul.

 

Spending time in a beautiful garden can be rewarding and delightful:

 

Improvements at work

-          Increased employee satisfaction and productivity

-          Positive health benefits

-          Cooler micro-climate

-          Increased property value

 

Making family memories at home

-          Playing ball games on the lawn

-          Letting them water with the hosepipe and the water fun that follows

-          Treasure hunts and hide and seek

-          Climbing trees and tree houses

 

Meeting with Nature

-          Discovering earthworms as you dig in the soil to plant new plants

-          Growing plants from seed and watching them grow

-          Discovering insects and birds you’ve never seen before

 

A Sense of accomplishment

-          Growing a vegetable garden and providing food for your table

-          Picking flowers to put in a vase at the front door

-          Contributing positively to the environment by planting indigenous plants

 

Planning is the first step to a beautiful outdoor space. Let’s start today. Contact Sprout to schedule a site visit. Everyone deserves a beautiful garden #loveYOURGARDEN

insect and bird.jpg

Anton Smit Sculpture Park

Entrance to Anton Smit Gallery is guarded by these sentinels

Entrance to Anton Smit Gallery is guarded by these sentinels

The ILASA year end function was held at the Anton Smit Sculpture Park in Bronkhorstspruit and included a guided walk through the gallery and production area, followed by a lunch at the tea garden called Imagine Cafe.

The Gallery

The Gallery

Anton was in the Cape over this time so the tour was led by his dynamic wife Roelien who gave us insight into the working of the gallery and Anton’s thought process in creating artworks. The gallery exudes creativity and Roelien made us all feel welcome by sharing her knowledge and introducing us to the team members of the business.

The ILASA group is given a tour of how the sculptures are made

The ILASA group is given a tour of how the sculptures are made

Roelien explained that almost all of Anton’s sculptures are connected to the human body and relate to the human mind and soul. His work includes heads and monumental statues that evoke themes of suffering, reconciliation and glory and can be connected to his strong religious beliefs. He is also known for his nudes, masks, hands, angels, warriors and abstract works, using mostly steel, fibreglass and bronze.

Something beautiful at every angle

Something beautiful at every angle

The Sculpture Park allows you to get up close to the artworks

The Sculpture Park allows you to get up close to the artworks

The Sculpture Park consists of an assorted collection of his work placed in a garden setting with a bacdrop of natural limestone fomations. The largest of the sculptures can be seen when driving into the parking area and one can wander down to see these more closely. I especially liked exploring the garden and seeing a sculpture placed in a viewpoint, framed by trees, that one moved towards.

It is all about experience. What I love about his sculptures is that you can move around them, touch them and experience them from multiple angles.

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Highly emotive, grand scale pieces welcome you to the Sculpture Park

Highly emotive, grand scale pieces welcome you to the Sculpture Park

The sculpture park is open to public, it can be accessed anytime, however the art gallery is only open during office hours Monday – Friday | 9am – 5pm, Saturday / Sunday | 9am – 1pm. For more info please visit https://www.antonsmit.co.za

Masks on the Wall

Masks on the Wall

Working Around Services on Site

During the recent Jasmyn installation at the University of Pretoria one of the toughest issues the contractor needed to deal with was the myriad of services traversing the site. Information on existing services was limited and often incorrect. Needless to say a few pipes and cables were hit during installation. So what can be done to minimise the cost implication and time set back that services can cause?

 

-          Try get as much information beforehand as possible. Request As-Builts and if none are available request site walks with people who are knowledgeable about existing services on the site.

-          Make allowance in the costing for unforeseen damage and repair to services.

-          Have a clear action plan in place if a cable or pipe is uncovered or damaged during the installation that is communicated and discussed beforehand. E.g.: Stop working immediately, try repair where possible and contact the relevant people.

-          Communication between Contractor, Client and Landscape Architect is essential.

-          Have regular site meetings to assess progress of damages and repair work.

-          Lift Manholes, Stormwater Outlets, Valves, etc. according to new levels of site.

-          Update services drawing during installation and provide accurate As-Built on completion.

- Be prepared to have your whole landscape dug up when an unforeseen problem arises (like when the Sewer Infrastructure needs to be replaced!)