24 September 2014

Makoro: Vertical gardening

Vertical gardening is a delightful solution for a vegetable garden in a small urban space. This vertical garden consist of two elements:

“Grow-Wall” has an easy to assemble stackable system for container gardening. These containers are perfect for herbs such as mint which are famous for “taking over” a garden.

A Makoro is an African canoe, also called a dug-out since it is constructed by hollowing out a tree trunk. These canoes are used for fishing by the local people in Mozambique. We converted a used Makoro into a vegetable garden. 

We constructed a steel frame to support the weight of the Makoro filled with soil. The frame was painted with two coats red oxide primer and a final grey overcoat. 

To protect the Makoro we treated the inside with two coats wood sealer and lined it with a double layer of plastic. Sufficient drainage is ensured by holes drilled into the bottom of the Makoro and a perforated pipe covered in a rock layer.

21 May 2014

Growing the garden

As you’ve read on a previous post we are developing an ecological garden.  During the past 5 months nature has returned to our beautiful rock.

In the north garden, on top of the rock, grasses decorate the terrain with green, red, white and tan colours. The species include Melinis Repens (Natal Red Top), Melinus Nerviglumis (Bristle-Leaved Red Top), Eragrostis Capensis (Heart Seed Love Grass) and Themeda Triandra (Red Grass). We also have a few aloes hidden in the grass. Flocks of tittle birds called Bronze Mannikin (Gewone Fret) visit every morning, balancing their tiny bodies on the blades of grass.   

The south garden is the social garden where we have the braai and enjoy the view over the nature reserve. We planted LM grass here to create a soft outside surface for sitting and playing. LM is a low water, low maintenance grass.  Kiggelaria Africana (Wild Peach) trees were planted for shading and privacy. The Wild Peach is indigenous to the nature reserve and well suited. The female trees carry fruit to attract more birds into our garden. At the back where our garden meets the nature reserve we are not planting but rather allowing nature to take over. It is a slow progress but already we enjoy a few 1m high Ochna Pulchra (Lekkerbreek) trees, Burkea Africana (Wild Seringe) trees, a Diospyros Lycioides subsp. Guerkei (Bluebush) and plenty of grasses.

11 May 2014

Antique front door

Finally our house has a front door! We bought this antique Indian door before we started construction and it is one of the last things to be installed. It is quite a challenge to install a roughly 150 year old door which has aged and bent and been adapted to each location where it has been used. Nothing is straight or level but the craftsmanship remains remarkable.

27 April 2014

House number

In 2010 my husband and I lived in Munich, Germany. All the houses in Munich have the same blue street signs indicating the street name and number. Before we left I had a street sign made for our new house. Back then we had already purchased the land but had no idea what we would build on this big beautiful rock.

26 April 2014

Pure wool

The decision to install a carpet in the main bedroom and walk-in-closet was not taken lightly. Originally I allowed a 20mm recess in the concrete floor for timber hardwood flooring. However, after using the reclaimed pine for the ceilings and the wall behind the bed, I could not find a suitable timber. Every option was explored until I realised that all the surfaces are too harsh. The room needed softness.  A pure wool carpet provided the texture and tactile sense needed.

The carpet installers nail timber strips into the concrete floor. The timber strips has angled nails sticking up into the air. First they place underfelt and then they place the carpet, pulling it tight into the nails.

Please excuse the closet…we live here!


19 April 2014


The first set of waterproof LED strip lights are installed above the garage door, illuminating the entrance facade.

04 March 2014

Let’s talk about the closet

Designing a perfect walk-in-closet requires certain elements: brilliant natural daylight to apply make-up, ultimate privacy for dressing and a clean layout to prevent messiness and clutter.

A skylight settled the natural daylight and privacy requirements. Translucent polycarbonate sheeting was integrated in the roof design to allow soft diffused light yet minimise excessive heat gain.   

We chose white washed pine shelving which is easy to assemble and can be altered should we require any additional closet elements, for example shoe boxes.  The white generates cleanliness and the timber texture visible beneath keeps everything real and honest.