Farm lies a short drive from Johannesburg in Skeerpoort, close to the Cradle of Humankind. The privately owned weekend retreat of interior designer Michael Hogan will be open to the public on October 1 and 2 for the first time, in aid of the St George’s Turning Point Foundation.
Hogan purchased the farm in 2002, and there was a lot of work to do. “We chose the area for its natural beauty, abundant water, and its close proximity to Johannesburg,” he says. “The farm was derelict, and had been used for Tobacco farming and later for cut flower production. The farm was covered in alien invader plants, especially Syringas, American poplars and jacarandas. We removed about 3 000 trees over a period of two months and now have the situation under control.”
Sixteen hectares of land have been lovingly landscaped by Hogan, with his design and concept drawing inspiration from European landscapes and Monet’s water gardens at Giverney. Some features include more than 130 varieties of water lilies, thousands of roses, irises, and crab apples, and a large collection of bamboo varieties. There is an orchard of heritage fruit trees, a potager with hand-painted tiles depicting exotic birds, a folly, and a grotto.
“The area is about five degrees hotter than Johannesburg in summer, and has reached lows of -14°C degrees in winter, with black frost almost nightly in July. Many of our plants are propagated here and a lot are purchased from Bristle Cone Nursery around the corner, as they are already acclimatised to the area, Hogan says. “Our water comes from The Skeerpoort River, which is one of the cleanest rivers in the country. Its source is in The Cradle of Humankind, and because it is cave water, it is extremely high in lime, so you will find very few acid loving plants in the garden.
“The farm is run strictly on organic principles, without the use of any pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilisers. There is also plenty of wildlife in the area. We have spotted leopard, brown hyena, impala, waterbuck, rooikat, civets, and many other species of mammals. We even caught a crocodile in the wetland attempting to take our longhaired dachshund, Calaban,” Hogan says.
“The bird life in the area is unsurpassed. We regularly have blue cranes and Cape vultures visiting. Our neighbours have large herds of antelope, and their giraffes are often spotted eating our roses over the fence. The garden is continually evolving and we plan to extend it right up to the river later this year.”
Times: 9am to 5pm
Date: October 1 to 2 2016
Venue: Farm S86, Skeerpoort, Cradle of Humankind (25°49'03.7"S 27°46'09.3”E)