Roses to stop you in your tracks


Does this look like a pavement garden? Joburg landscaper Debbie Smit pushed out all the boundaries by filling the long, narrow pavement outside her client’s house with a breath-taking display of roses, and other garden flowers.

Cheryl van Acker loves flowers, and roses in particular, so it is no surprise that her small security estate garden is like a living flower arrangement. It’s the effect that Debbie Smit of Foxglove Landscapes wanted to create, and it is there for all to see.

‘People walking their dogs come past every day to look at it,’ says Debbie, ‘and it is the view from her neighbour’s kitchen as she washes the dishes.’ Even security guards at the gate, when asked directions, simply say, drive in, ‘You can’t miss it.’

When Cheryl met landscaper Debbie Smit six years ago her brief was simple: She wanted an explosion of colour! Since then, more flowers have been packed into her small garden and on the pavement than most other gardens two or three times the size.

In April this year, Debbie revamped the pavement garden because Cheryl had fallen in love with climbing roses. Out came the patch of lawn on the pavement and up went three arches that will support a profusion of pink climbing roses from Ludwig’s Roses: ‘Pink Cloud,’ ’Wedding Garland,’ ‘Clair Matin’ and ‘Eden Rose.’

In addition to the climbers, more roses from Ludwig’s Roses have been added to the pavement garden. Standard roses of ‘My Granny’ interspersed with the soft pink shades of Antico Moderno rose, ‘Manuela Crabbia’ and the Fairytale ‘Magaliesberg Rose,’ along with the fragrant ‘Perfumed Breeze’ and hybrid teas, like ‘Chaim Soutine,’ ‘Spiced Coffee’ and ‘Garden queen’ that function as a rosy screen.

Down the garden path

A meandering pathway leads through the archways on the pavement. The curves deliberately slow one down, to admire the poppies in flower, inhale the scent of a rose or the honey fragrance of the alyssum. With each curve a new vista opens up. A pathway is a journey, and it should never be straight, says Debbie. She has also made it wide enough (600cm) for one person to comfortably walk along it. When a pathway is too narrow, it feels cramped. The white alyssum that lines the pathway calms down the busyness of the other colours.

Inviting archways

The three archways are not in a straight line but centred on the pathway, creating a sense of distance. Originally Cheryl wanted a single, central archway but Debbie persuaded her to have three because they pull the eye all the way through the garden. They provide height, structure and formality offset by a soft, informal planting of blue-flowering borage, spires of delphiniums and cerise-pink ‘Knockout’ standard roses that also lead the eye through the garden. The soft pinkish-lavender roses in-between are the fragrant ‘Blue Moon’ hybrid tea rose.

Easy on the eye

The bird bath acts as the main focal point, framed by borage, with a backdrop of dusky pink flowering valerian. It is like a visual full stop, allowing the eyes to rest on it while taking in the beauty of the surrounding plants.

This planting design uses layers of assorted colours and by choosing plants that flower at various times, Debbie has ensured that there is always something in flower throughout the year.

Plants are also placed at different heights, with taller plants towards the back and lower ones to the front although Debbie likes to mix it up by using some taller flowers closer to the front of the bed. Looking through them, adds to the sense of distance and perspective.

Borage features extensively because it shows off the pink roses and, its tiny blue flowers attract the bees, which Cheryl also loves. Planted very close together, the borage grows upwards instead of its normal sprawling habit. It is a good companion plant for roses, adding minerals into the soil and acting as a nourishing mulch. It can be cut down after flowering and will regrow and flower.

Three’s company

From the beginning, ‘Knockout’ standard roses have been a feature of the garden, providing pops of colour at eye level. The other advantage of using standard roses is that there is space underneath the flowering standards for other lower-growing roses and perennials. The result is a greater variety and many more plants as companions for the roses.

Debbie Smit: Foxgloves Landscape Design. Email: [email protected]

Ludwig’s Roses: or email [email protected]

* Compiled by Alice Coetzee