1 Mom pruning 1982

Recently I went through all (at least I think – hope! – all) my dad’s unscanned slides to see what needs to be preserved. Hundreds of overseas holiday pictures, with the occasional one of my mom with her ‘must you point that thing at me!’ expression, will be dumped. But some gems came to light. This series dates from late 1982. The Plett was 15 months old and our second summer was commencing… (see here for the Coming of The Plett.) In a still very raw garden my mom is giving plants the kind of individual attention that was still possible at that stage – or perhaps she is picking for the vase. The dog kennel testifies to the importance of our animals over many years.

2 Something to photograph 1982

I love this pic for the way it illustrates the conscious searching for a garden composition… it is difficult to believe today that one white azalea could be so important!

3 What is today a garden 1982

Here we are looking across what is today the main garden. The picture below, taken when my mom was already on her deathbed, shows these same azaleas in maturity and add a poignant note to the above view.  05

The main achievement of that first summer was the building of the access road to the pine plantation across the valley (today the arboretum) which had the great advantage of lifting the dam wall at the Makou Dam, thus making more water visible from the house. However as a result of the heightened water level the willow tree on its banks died. Over the next few years the scar in the hill would dominate many of our planting plans. Much has changed, but my  mom’s tree (which has a whole post to itself here remains a constant on Sequoia!

4 Mom's tree 1982Below, an historical shot: trees and shrubs wait to be planted. In the foreground the copper beech (what a find!) and Japanese maples would have been destined for the grouping along the fountain stream.

5 To be planted 1982

I photographed those maples extensively when I was home for a few days at the beginning of May, but never got to post on them – so here is a link to last year’s post, and a picture from this year with both maples and copper beech!

Beech Borders in autumn

Against the Plett  there seem to be the Chinese maples which would become Flora’s Path, the edge of the main garden today, forming the division between the New Old Rose Garden and the visitor’s parking area. This was the summer we realised what a perfect spot this was up against the Plett, receiving morning sun only, for a nursery. A mini greenhouse was soon built here and this is where the greater majority of my father’s trees were germinated and nurtured by him and old Phineas… I wonder whether a picture of it will ever come to light…. That sink (still without water here) was central to the success, and was moved into my new greenhouse behind the big house when I built it two years ago – here it is under construction, again without taps!

new greenhouse

To end with, two photos of the Makou Dam from nearly the same spot but taken some 30 years apart…

6 Makoudam 1982

1 about to cross the Makou Dam



  1. Wow. That photo of Mom pruning startled me. I’m also 53 this year and it could have been me, except for the setting being all wrong and the dark hair. One did not often see Mom in jeans.

    • Yes, and even in the posture I saw David, not you., you are very similar! But I must admit – I enlarged the pic to make quite certain it wasn’t David with long varsity hair… that was my connection. And when I look in the mirror I see Mom’s eyes in myself, and Granny’s And recently I saw a cartoon of C de W and he had the same droop to his aging lids…

  2. I wonder when life will let you get back to stretching your own ideas for your garden? That infinity spiral? Even in our garden, suddenly the plum trees are golden and the Pride of India a blaze of scarlet. A good autumn this year!

    • Ah, Diane! How I long for that! Luckily my cousin in Jhb has a beautiful garden,and I have just spent a wonderful hour or two in it with my camera and her dogs… I’ve been very lucky with the places I’ve had to stay whilst away from Sequoia durin
      g these last months!

  3. Oh how touching are these photographic memories! Love to see how your parents’ arboreal planning has turned from early visions to the marvellous planting it is today – with you now holding the reins and continuing to develop SG. Am struck by the redness of the soil (? high iron content)

  4. Jack, Even though I’ve read some of your garden history before, this is the first time I truly realized how relatively young your gardens are and how much you’ve accomplished in just a few decades. Very impressive!

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