Copper-tapped water feature with pots and formal planting emphasise the European style of the development
Architect: Hub Architects
Landscape Design and Installation: Highveld Horticulture
Lonehill Village Estate near Fourways in Gauteng is a French Provençale development consisting of 315 units. Although the landscaping is predominantly formal, as in the French provençale style, it has carefully taken into account, protected and incorporated the natural attributes of the site, mainly in the form of existing trees and natural rock outcrops. These have been integrated into the design.
The design philosophy, according to landscape architect Grieta Webb of Highveld Horticulture, was to develop with sensitivity, taking into consideration the preservation and retention of trees wherever possible. Many of these, such as Acacia galpinii, Phoenix canariensis and Olea africana subs. Africana, were successfully transplanted.
Says Webb: “Although the project is based on a European idea, we are in Africa and so it was necessary to adapt the style accordingly. Exotics are there, but we’ve used indigenous trees and plant species as much as we can – it’s part of preserving our natural heritage.”
Common area landscaping provides a relaxing park-like space
The provençale theme is established at the main entrance, where public space landscaping is immediately apparent in the form of formal water features, clipped manicured hedges and lavender. This European theme is continued throughout, and gravel walkways have been added in some places to reinforce the style. These create an attractive tree-lined boulevard effect, with Celtis sp. framing the gravel pathway. Circular water features are used effectively throughout the development, providing a creative alternative to concrete traffic circles. “The public space landscape is hardy and sustainable,” says Webb.
An Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out prior to Summercon purchasing the land. No Red Data species were found to exist in the area.
The site had good drainage, a good textured topsoil and as mentioned, numerous natural rock outcrops which were incorporated – sometimes into individual home gardens and sometimes into the public space landscaping.
An attenuation dam was constructed on the northwest section of the site to handle stormwater. It has been turned into a fenced-off feature in front of one of the clubhouses and is planted with bog species such as Chondropetalum tectorum, Restio sp, Juncus sp, Zantedeschia aethiopica and Dietes bicolor.
The European style water features are for the most part two-tiered and circular, with an urn-shaped copper pot in the centre as a focal point. The water spouts are elegantly arched in shape and are visual but not noisy.
An irrigation system has been installed at the lower gate house (western portion of the site) but all other areas are watered by hand. All Seasons Evergreen lawn was used in the highly visual areas such as the gate house and certain areas along boulevards. Areas with more traffic such as the clubhouse were planted with Kikuyu instant lawn.
A gravel and stepping stone feature connects two unitsTree-lined gravel pathways create an attractive boulevard effect
Webb emphasises the fact that special care was taken with many aspects of the project, for example:
- before the landscape design commenced, aerial photographs were taken of the site to pinpoint the position of the existing trees and rock outcrops so that the layout of the project could be designed around these
- existing trees that were retained in their original position were pruned so that branches were not broken by the civil contractors carrying out their work
- a nursery was established on site prior to the start of the project to store trees and plants harvested from site. These were later re-planted. Highveld Horticulture now looks after plant material on its own premises in Linbro Park, Johannesburg
- picture boards were compiled to communicate the envisaged style and planting palette to the client at the start of the project
- a launch tent was landscaped in the proposed style with plants, pots and hard landscaping materials that were proposed for the project. This is an encouraging incentive for prospective buyers.
Webb concludes: “The involvement of the client in the landscaping of this project was fantastic. They are very environmentally aware, sensitive and concerned about how the landscape is treated. The project also came together successfully because there was a good relationship between all the contractors, making for excellent communication and teamwork. Everyone worked towards the same goal.”
Text by Karyn Richards. Photos courtesy of Highveld Horticulture