Step into symmetrical and sensory Walmer sanctuary

IF YOU come from Bedford then you know about gardens, chuckled Magda Oosthuizen, who grew up in the small Eastern Cape town quite famous for its awe-inspiring gardens in the traditional English style.

Drawing on many happy memories of her hometown, where her father was a successful cattle farmer, Magda spent countless hours transforming what was a vast, overgrown space in upper Walmer into a symmetrical and deeply sensory sanctuary.

Today, thanks to her vision and effort, magnificent established trees provide shade and structure to the Church Road property, while beds awash with a gentle palette of greens, pinks, blues and purples are a feast for the eye.

The once overwhelming space has been faultlessly redesigned into several garden “rooms” – all without the aid of a professional landscaper.

Magda and her husband, medical doctor Kobie, are great entertainers and those lucky enough to be invited to dinner have the added treat of savouring their splendid garden at night, when the scent of jasmine and rose hangs heavy in the air.

This same gentle touch is evident inside the home, where Magda has chosen a palette of soft greys, blues, whites and other neutrals.

It is a deeply restful home with a pronounced French feel, evidenced in the impressive pieces the couple has collected over the years.

Special cabinetry was made to display Magda’s treasured collection of fine china, crystal and silver – many of the items gifts from her late father whom she confesses “spoilt me rotten”.

Another beloved piece is the French Huguenot lamp unearthed in the attic on the Bedford family farm, Groot Schuur, when she was a girl.

“Kobie and I share a love of history and enjoy choosing beautiful pieces together,” Magda says. “Nothing has been acquired without it meeting both our approval… luckily our taste is very similar.”

The house is a perfect fit for this refined pair. It may seem somewhat spacious for just the two of them (and three cats) but they often have friends and family staying over.

Their son, Lukas, is in KwaZulu-Natal and has a chemistry doctorate; their daughter, Liana, is married to aviation ace Patrick Davidson.

The house has a charming history as it was designed by renowned architect Ian Knight, also responsible for four other iconic Walmer homes. He, like its current custodians, adored unique pieces.

The balustrade leading to the bedrooms upstairs was salvaged from the old Grey boarding school, an outdoor wrought-iron staircase came from the PE station, while the heavy garden gate was once boat balustrading.

The Oosthuizens spent many months renovating the house, sensitively restoring it while adding verandas and opening up some of the interior spaces.

One imagines Mr Knight might have been rather chuffed.

HERE are a few of Magda Oosthuizen’s top tips for a lush and healthy garden.

Always take the climate of the area you live in, and also the position of your property, into account when planning a garden.

The amount of water you have available will also dictate what sort of garden you can aim for. If you don’t have a borehole, a water-wise garden is advisable.

Your soil quality is also very important. If the ground is very sandy, you will have to supplement it with good-quality soil so that it is properly balanced for most plants.

You must have a plan in mind for your garden. Don’t just randomly buy plants you like the look of. Plants can become very expensive at the end of the day, and you don’t want to end up with a mishmash of a garden.

Regular garden maintenance is extremely important – and it never ends.

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