Van Staden Garden, Johannesburg

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The Van Staden garden

Elise van Staden's mosaics elevate this garden to something quite extraordinary.

The Van Staden family (‘Staden’ rhymes with ‘garden’) is the most industrious and artistic family I know. I met them when they were living on a smallholding in a fertile fruit-producing area west of Johannesburg where they had an impressive fruit orchard of their own: several varieties of grape, peach, plum, apricot, prune, pear, lemon, pomegranate, quince and a large grove of pecan nut trees.

In their beautiful red Hutton soil which irrevocably stained clothes during the rainy season (summer), everything easily took hold. Their eldest son and I would walk around in Johannesburg collecting cuttings, like the not-often-seen dahlia tree (Dahlia imperialis) which would shoot skywards.

They have since moved to Johannesburg, much closer to their jobs, but they’ve also had to adapt to living close to their neighbours in what is called a ‘security complex’ in South Africa.

They started this garden five years ago with three main objectives in mind. >>