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

Example of a Proposed Entrance Upgrade

 

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:

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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

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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!)

House E Indigenous Planting

Indigenous Grasses with Cycads and Aloes. Trees screening neighbouring house.

Indigenous Grasses with Cycads and Aloes. Trees screening neighbouring house.

House E is a stunning example of the beauty that South African flora holds and makes use of indigenous grasses with several focal plants in between.

A grass mix including Aristida junciformis and Melinis nerviglumis was interplanted with several bulbs such as Ornithogalum thyrsoides, Dierama spp, Eucomis autumnalis and Eucomis comosa, which formed the main planting theme.

Several feature plants grow out of the grass mix including Aloes, Proteas, Cabbage Trees and Cycads.

Trees: Large Olive trees were used as the primary screening elements which were interplanted with Loxostylis alata, Dombeya rotundifolia, Heteropyxis natalensis and Nuxia floribunda. Dais cotinifolia were also added as feature trees.

Shrubs: a screening hedge of Dodonea angustifolia created a green boundary and smaller shrubs such as Polygala myrtifolia, Coleonema alba and Euryops virgineus were added.

Before and During Construction

After Implementation and then the greener images are taken 4 months after installation.

The Herb Farm at Doonholm Nursery

Fennel flowering - beautiful combination with purple of Lavender

Fennel flowering - beautiful combination with purple of Lavender

I attended a seminar at a venue called The Herb Farm at Doonholm nursery a few weeks ago and was delighted to discover this piece of gardening paradise! The gardens consist of a South African indigenous medicinal herb garden, a reflection pond, a spiral labyrinth herb garden, a scented rose garden and an educational garden. All the plants in this garden (trees, shrubs, groundcovers, climbers, annuals, succulents) are herb plants and this garden has been created to showcase the incredible range of herbal plants at our disposal.

A plant lovers delight! Amazing plant combinations, variety of colour and texture

A plant lovers delight! Amazing plant combinations, variety of colour and texture

The gardens began in 2006 and evolved over the years (the owner described it as a “lappieskombers” or “patchwork quilt”) so that each year a new section was added. It is estimated that it now contains over 450 types of herb plants.

Educational Garden with terraces of herb planting

Educational Garden with terraces of herb planting

There are numerous signboards throughout the garden indicating plant names and their uses. In the Educational Garden you will find: Herbs for Pets, Scented Herbs, Healing Herbs, Insect Repellent Herbs (On a side note I have heard that certain herbs deter pigeons, I really need to find out which ones!) Companion Herbs for Veggie Gardening, Flavour Herbs for Cooking and Herbs for Teas. Herbal plants have numerous beneficial properties and it is widely accepted that our knowledge of the potential that plants hold is under utilised. Look at https://healthyliving-herbs.co.za/medicinal-herbs/ to see specific herbs and their health benefits.

Sprout visits Herb Farm

The Scented Rose Garden: Planted entirely with scented roses ranging from strong to subtle scents and light to dark coloured blooms. Rose petals are edible, used to flavour rose water for food and cosmetics, and used to make confetti and potpourri.

Rose Garden with Steel Gazebo

Rose Garden with Steel Gazebo

Beautiful Rosemary

Beautiful Rosemary

Refreshments are available at The Herb Cafe. Conference Facilities for smaller groups available. Please contact them before visiting as access is by appointment only. 264 Summit Road (R562), Midrand (Olifantsfontein Offramp) Tel: 0861 244 837 or info@herbfarm.co.za

Design with FOLIAGE

Combination of leaf shapes, sizes and textures

Combination of leaf shapes, sizes and textures

I always try put more emphasis on choosing plants according to their foliage for a landscape rather than choosing plants based on their flowers. Flowers only last a short season, but foliage lasts all year round. Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers and always add flowering plants to my designs but they are not the skeleton of the design. It is the texture - size and shape of leaves - that add variety and interest.

Aristida junciformis - Three Awn Grass - Soft Texture

Aristida junciformis - Three Awn Grass - Soft Texture

Grasses are wonderful at adding texture with their long flowing shapes that move in the wind. So are Kniphofias, Aloes and various succulents with different leaf shapes and colours. Bulbs (Eucomis, Crinum, Crocosmia) interplanted between grasses add interest and seasonal variety. Every year that my bulbs come up I am unexpectedly delighted!

Eucomis zambeziaca - Pineapple Lily. There are several Eucomis species, such a rewarding Bulb!

Eucomis zambeziaca - Pineapple Lily. There are several Eucomis species, such a rewarding Bulb!

I love combining plants that have large leaves with ones that have small, fine leaves. Succulents are a great choice as they are waterwise and require little water. They also withstand harsh weather conditions and will not die easily. Certain deciduous plants (Eg: Tree - Combretum krausii) turn gold, yellow and red before losing their leaves. This also adds seasonal interest and shows the changing of time and seasons.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - White Lady. This succulent turns a brighter red the more sun it gets

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - White Lady. This succulent turns a brighter red the more sun it gets

So next time you choose a plant for your garden, don’t think about the colour of the flower but rather the leaf shape, size and colour and how this will complement the other plants. Here are a few lovely plants for adding texture to your garden:

A Client's beautiful indigenous garden - combining Aloes with Fynbos plants like Leucodendron

A Client's beautiful indigenous garden - combining Aloes with Fynbos plants like Leucodendron

Euryops pectinatus - Golden Daisy Bush. Grey-Green Foliage

Euryops pectinatus - Golden Daisy Bush. Grey-Green Foliage

Rhus burchellii - don't you love that curved leaf?

Rhus burchellii - don't you love that curved leaf?

Rhigozum obovatum - tiny grey leaves

Rhigozum obovatum - tiny grey leaves

Scabiosa africana - those flower heads are like pincushions once the flowers die down

Scabiosa africana - those flower heads are like pincushions once the flowers die down

Delta Park

Delta Park is one of my favourite outdoor spaces in Johannesburg and I regularly (almost weekly) go there to walk my dogs, picnic with friends, run or let my daughter play on the jungle gyms. It really is a wonderful, slightly wild space to visit to take a breather from city life. It is also a park that you can visit in every season and I always enjoy seeing the beautiful changes that take place throughout the year. The Autumn colours are particularly striking with a stunning display of golds, yellows, oranges and reds. This is preceded by an explosion of Cosmos flowers in the area where the veldgrass is left to grow tall. Even Winter can be striking with bare branches reflecting in the cool waters of the lakes. See images below taken on a cold and frosty Winter's morning:

Top Dam

Top Dam

Middle Dam

Middle Dam

Winter Reflections in Delta Park
Dogs love running free in the wide open spaces

Dogs love running free in the wide open spaces

The park is situated between Craighall Park, Victory Park and Blairgowrie in Johannesburg. It is 104 hectares and consists of mostly grassland and woodland with abundant birdlife which can be viewed from two bird hides. The park includes the fenced off Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary as well as the Delta Environmental Centre which offers environmental programmes to children and also has an auditorium and function room for hire. For a detailed history of the park and how it evolved from a sewerage works to the green space it is today see Jane Carruthers article on the Delta Environmental Centre website.

The Park is very well used, especially on weekends, and is frequented by joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, families that picnic or have birthday parties and is also often used as a location for photo shoots.

Sensitivity Map by Launch Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning - www.launchlandarch.co.za

Sensitivity Map by Launch Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning - www.launchlandarch.co.za

Poplar Walkway that borders the Delta Park School

Poplar Walkway that borders the Delta Park School

This field is stunning when the Cosmos are in flower

This field is stunning when the Cosmos are in flower

Graffiti in a few selected areas, like this old reservoir, give character and make a great backdrop for photo shoots

Graffiti in a few selected areas, like this old reservoir, give character and make a great backdrop for photo shoots

Children's Play Area

Children's Play Area

A walk around the perimeter of the park will take roughly an hour and is about 5km. This is also the route used by Park Run every Saturday where often up to 2000 participants enjoy some exercise. When the serious runners have left you will find many dog walkers often with their dogs off their leads. A riding stable nearby offers lessons and rides through the park so it is not uncommon to see horses being taken on a slow trot through the park. There are also Girl and Boy Scouts bordering the park.

Party on the Grass next to the Top Dam

Party on the Grass next to the Top Dam

Pathway along Top Dam where houses have opened up views onto the Park

Pathway along Top Dam where houses have opened up views onto the Park

I have two parts of the park that I particularly love: the Top Dam where the adjacent lawn and big trees make it a very tranquil and inviting space and you will often see groups of people gathering here. The other area is the walk along the Braamfontein Spruit. The Spruit connects Emmarentia Park in the South and runs all the way through the suburbs to Rivonia in the North. This green belt has enormous potential as a circulation route for pedestrians and cyclists. It is already well used by cyclists but the paths are very informal (a single dirt track mostly used by mountain bikers) and certain areas are inhabited by vagrants which creates a feeling of unease. It would be wonderful to see what this park could become if the City of Joburg had the budget to apply interventions. It could become a world class inner city park that allows for sport and recreation, creates linkages, creates work opportunities, brings nature back, promotes tourism, encourages healthier lifestyles and gives Johannesburg a positive and connecting network of green open space.

Top Dam - view across to Dam Wall

Top Dam - view across to Dam Wall

Blue Bridge into Green Belt from Craighall Park

Blue Bridge into Green Belt from Craighall Park

Walkway along Braamfontein Spruit in Green Belt underneath Pylons

Walkway along Braamfontein Spruit in Green Belt underneath Pylons

The beautiful River often with Yellowbilled Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Swallows and Lapwings to be seen. Sometimes the dogs jump in the water and chase the ducks around :)

The beautiful River often with Yellowbilled Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Swallows and Lapwings to be seen. Sometimes the dogs jump in the water and chase the ducks around :)

All images in this blog were taken using my phone so are unfortunately not the best quality. Even though it is advisable to leave your valuables at home when visiting any public place in South Africa, I often take my phone along and keep it hidden from view. 

Further Reading:

http://www.jhbcityparks.com/index.php/list-of-parks-mainmenu-39/36-delta-park

https://deltaenviro.org.za/rand-water-water-wise-garden/

http://www.parkrun.co.za/delta/

https://www.lucilledavie.co.za/single-post/2011/09/09/Birds-flock-to-Delta-Park

https://www.lucilledavie.co.za/single-post/2002/05/02/Delta-Park-proves-that-exotics-can-be-useful