Monday, October 31, 2011

La Rive

La Rive
We have returned home, thoroughly buoyed and exuberant, after a wonderful weekend spent visiting each of ten exquisite private gardens, generously made available for public viewing by their respective owners during this season's Franschhoek Open Gardens 2011 extravaganza. All funds generated by this worthy cause have been donated by the Lions Club of Franschhoek to the Fleur de Lis old age home in the village.

A poppy alive with busy bees in the garden of La Rive
We left home at midday on Friday, full of anticipation for what we were soon to experience. We had wisely booked two nights' accommodation, so that we could spend two full days visiting the gardens, at five per day. On our last day, we had the additional, spontaneous invitation to view garden designer Henk Scholtz's private garden, but more on that exciting, impromptu event later.

First up, may I present La Rive, a truly magnificent English Country style garden set in the heart of the village. By suburban standards, this is a very large garden and one that makes my own seem little larger than a pocket handkerchief! I overheard someone say, "six full-time gardeners are employed to maintain it"...and I can well believe that! This garden did its best to reduce me to tears at one point! It really is THAT beautiful! 
This is the garden that stole my heart when we last visited Franschhoek. We had espied some of its hidden charm whilst walking amongst the old gravestones, set in the historic cemetery that is situated alongside on the opposite bank of the picturesque river which courses gently through the village. I had seen a lovely, secluded stone bench perfectly framed beneath the deep, enveloping shade of a giant oak tree on the opposite bank. I'd photographed it and then, being the quizzy soul I am, craned my already stretched-to-maximum neck even further to steal a glimpse of what appeared to me to be the perfect filmset for a remake of 'The Secret Garden'. Imagine my delight when we learnt a short while afterwards that this was to be one of the Open Gardens we'd be able to visit. La Rive was our inspiration for attending the Franschhoek Open Gardens weekend and the first garden we elected to visit! 
This is the sight that greeted us upon stepping through the entrance courtyard gateway! This very large garden has three distinct garden rooms. The first is the garden surrounding the pool and U-shaped homestead. Let's walk around this section, shall we? I'll leave you to take it all in...

Please don't mind my butting in...I just wanted to point out that the second garden room, to be accessed on the upper garden terrace, is reached by ascending the wide staircase (seen here) situated at the far end of the pool. As you can see, the stairs are attractively framed by a generous, creeper clad pergola and are lined, on both sides, with lusciously planted pots of seasonal flowers.

A section of the large, beautifully landscaped garden on the upper terrace. 

We now approach the piece de resistance of this truly magnificent garden...the gateway to the third garden room, or as I prefer to think of it, 'The Secret Garden' situated on the lower terrace and established along the length of the   river to which it lies adjacent.

And there, in the distance, beneath several creeper clad archways, is the bench I saw from the old cemetery, on the opposite bank!
The tempting pathway leading to the bench is formed by lengths of old railway sleepers, generously interplanted with fragrant ground covers and clumps of alyssum and pansies in full bloom. A sight too glorious for words!

Enjoying some quiet time was this elderly couple...who succeeded in getting themselves into everyone's pictures. 

The wide, double gate leading to the secret garden is a work of absolute beauty in and of itself.  I played around there for ages, capturing it from all angles. 

My patience finally paid off and I had the bench all to myself for a little while. Did I sit? No, I spent the time photographing it from different angles, both from the front and from behind. It is a double bench, with a wide seat on both sides and was equipped with two, well-padded, full-length cushions to ensure a comfortable rest. No wonder those two "oldies" hogged the spot for far longer than was polite! My husband's theory is that they make this an annual event...trying to see how many pictures they can appear in :)

Large, planted pots are used extensively in the garden beds at La Rive. We have returned home determined to incorporate several more in our own garden! 

The bench viewed from the riverside. In addition to the large Oak tree beneath which it rests, are several tall tree ferns which soften the scene in the most pleasing way. 

Looking back towards the entrance to the secret garden from the pathway leading to the bench. 

This is the side-ways view that awaits anyone seated on the bench! 

We took so many pictures of the flowers in this garden, both generally and in close-up...I would need to devote an entire post just to share those with you!

For now, it has been my intention to give you an overall view of the layout and style of La Rive. Sadly, I have only been able to give you a glimpse. Should anyone wish to see more, I shall be happy to prepare an additional post once I have completed my objective of producing ten posts of the ten open, private gardens we saw this past weekend. I also want to do an additional post, in which I unveil the garden we were invited to see, privately.  

"HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?" I hear you exclaim, disbelievingly! Well, we had driven past this particular garden and, as so often happens, I asked my husband to, "Please double back! I HAVE to take a closer look at that garden we just passed!" As usual, he willingly obliged. I had intended taking one picture of something that had caught my eye, but I was foiled. The owner was seeing off some lunch guests and so it was not possible for me to do my usual sneaky, over-the-garden gate capture. I needed to ask permission to do so this time. The owner, an evidently charming gentleman greeted me with a broad, friendly smile and answered, "Of course!" Imagine my surprise when I was invited into the front garden to get a better shot at my intended capture. Feeling slightly sheepish, I initially declined, but the invitation was so warm and generous, that I felt I could then accept. Once inside the garden, my enthusiasm clearly got the better of me and, before I could stop myself, I asked whether I could please take a second picture! I was then invited to step through the house and into the totally private garden at the back...BUT you will have to wait until I do a separate post on Henk's magical garden!
To conclude this post, I shall share three of several statues that grace the magnificent grounds of La Rive...
This intriguing and eye-catching, stone sculpture has pride of place in a secluded section of the secret garden. We saw two further works by this same artist in two of the other gardens we visited. We have yet to discover this talented artist's name.

This winsome child sculpture gazes across the garden on the top terrace.
Deep in thought, she remains poised on a rock at the top of a waterfall that cascades into a koi pond beneath her.

I do hope you enjoyed accompanying me on a visit to La Rive. I should be delighted if you'd care to join me at each of the gardens we visited. If so, please "watch this space!"


  1. Hi Desiree,

    Absolute stunning photographs, so beautiful and the colors are magnificent. Thank you so much for sharing all this beauty. I loved the secret garden :)
    Enjoy your Evening and Happy Halloween!
    Hugs x

  2. This is absolutely gorgeous I was so involved in this visual feast I laughed out loud when you "butted in" I forgot where I was.
    I love the older couple they should really be on a magazine cover of landscaped gardens, maybe they will be.
    The orchids were my favourite I think but I am not sure now there is too much to choose from. I do know I loved the secret garden and the statues. What an exciting adventure for you. I believe I can see you still smiling. Thank you for taking me along. B

  3. Looks like paradise on earth, simply gorgeous!

  4. I certainly did enjoy accompanying you on this scenic stroll, Desiree. I always do. Is the sun always shining in your lovely part of the world? One would think so. I can understand how these well maintained garden rooms, trees, statuary, benches, gates and water features could bring reverent tears to your eyes because they had the same effect on me as I gazed upon them. I only wish I could have been there to smell the fragrance. You have a wealth of excellent photographs to remember the day and I am very happy you elected to share them with me. I look forward to seeing any and all pictures that you take in your travels. Good night and happy Halloween, dear friend!

  5. waw, what a fantastic place.


  6. I can see why it would take six full-time gardeners to keep all of that lushness looking so beautiful. Parts of it look almost wild and yet you can see there is a lot of trimming and coaxing involved. They must pluck away every bloom as it fails because I didn't notice many dead flowers--wow! what a lot of work!

    I can totally understand why the older couple wouldn't want to move!! I would be mesmerized and want to just drink it all in. ;)

    I adored the walk through the gardens and would love to see more of La Rive later--yes! Can hardly wait to see the others!!

  7. I would love to have a place like that to go to and relax. Beautiful!

  8. Oh my goodness those photographs are just amazing.

    It looks lke a beautiful place
    like I imagine a little corner of heaven to be.

    The colours, the scenery, the sense of peace.............



  9. This was just totally enjoyable. I'd love to do this someday. Heck, maybe I'll put it on my bucket list.

    God bless and have a wonderful evenin'!!! :o)

  10. Every time I come visit your blog it's like taking a mini vacation. So refreshing. These are once again stunning my friend. No worries about the flu. I'll get over it and be fine. My health is really starting to wear me out though. Sigh. I've decided I really just need a new body lol Wonder if they could build me a young one, with stunning long hair... With so much new technology someone needs to jump on that!

  11. Desiree, I had to look through a few times! What a garden! I can believe that it takes 6 gardeners to keep this garden going! The drifts of pansies and the roses! Wow!! Can't wait to see the rest.

  12. Desiree- Yes, these photos can move me to tear! Stunning. More flowers than I've seen in a flower shop!
    Thank you for sharing it....

  13. WOW!!! There are few words to even begin to describe what you saw. I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty and the way the grounds were kept.
    Thank you again Des for giving us a glimpse of the beauty of South Africa.

  14. Wow! Such beauty! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful garden with us, especially with your readers here in the Northern Hemisphere, where winter is on the way. What a treat to look forward to your coming posts!

  15. I am continually amazed at the beauty you find! Those pansies were breathtaking, and I loved every photo! It's a good thing you stayed two days, but I bet you could have stayed longer, right??

    Lovely to view, makes me wistful, as I've never seen anything like it where I live!

  16. HI Desiree, That garden is beee-uuuuu-teeeee-fulll! Once again, your photos are stunningly gorgeous! I love the mountains in the background, and all the pansies, and the closeup of that pink one with the small little flowers or buds. And, you got to see 11 gardens? What fun! Looking forward to more beautiful pictures.

  17. You have me - hook line and sinker. I will definitely be waiting in line for all the posts on the garden tour. Wow, this garden is magnificent, and you always have such interesting comments as well!

  18. Great blog.. beautiful collection of pictures !

    garden water features

  19. Thanks for the visit to my blog as well. I'm always excited when I discover a South African blog worth visiting and I wouldn't quite call your's "a humble abode" as you refer to it. I often wish I had more time to do more thorough posts and allow my writing skills to be developed.

    I love beautiful gardens like this one. If only I had time (there is the lack of time again) to really do my garden up.

  20. I don't think I have ever seen such a beautiful garden. What fun you must have had visiting 10 of them as well as the private visitation. I love the garden shots which have the mountain as a backdrop. It must be good to have 6 gardeners help with gardening.

  21. Dear Desiree, I feel so blessed to have returned to reading blogs and to be invited this morning to amble with you through La Rive. How breathtaking--to move from garden to garden into lushness and the glory of green and the beauty of unabated color.

    Thank you for sharing your pilgrimage with us. I so look forward to the next nine on the two-day tour and to "Henk's."

    The sculptures were the "piece de resistance"!

    Peace as ever and always.

  22. Is it really fair to have all that beauty in one place? LOL Simply gorgeous- the flowers, the greenery, the mountains, the statues...that gate...was that wrought iron? We have those all over Charleston and the patterns and intricacies are amazing.

  23. Those are all just simply beautiful!! I really love that first sculpture. I also really, really love the purple pansies. I think I got that right... That was a sight too glorious for words. I feel more at peace after looking at your photos. Loved them.

  24. Hi Desiree. I really feel quite speechless by the absolute beauty that is La Rive. It truly does look magical and I can honestly say that I don't think I' ve ever seen such a wonderful garden (and I've visited plenty, believe me!). How fortunate were you to see it in all its glory like that. The planting is magnificent. Those pinky purply poppies are my absolute favourite colour. They are beautiful. They had some that colour in Monet's Garden in France which I visited a few years ago. Thank you so much for sharing those stunning photographs with us my friend.

  25. I am overcome with awe (and not a little envy) at the beauty of La Rive. The fact that there are six full time gardeners makes me feel a little better.

  26. Dear Desiree,
    Oh, what an amazing pictures again♡♡♡ Enjoyed the stroll with you at La Rive.
    My favorite is amongst fabulous pics of there, poppy with busy bees!!! Wonderful, beautiful shot.
    Yes, I smiled the "butting in" as well.
    To my dear same age friend in Africa, xoxo Orchid*

  27. What an inspirational post, every picture is another beauty to behold. I am so glad to visit today from 'Read 'Em All Tuesdays' nice to meet you!

  28. Amazing garden! such beautiful photography. Stunning just stunning.

  29. Des...first of thank you so much for your very kind drive by to leave such caring thoughts on my blog! I'm doing much better and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the procedure I just had might have done the trick for a few months! If it has it will postpone any surgery the evil Dr's have in mind. (Not evil at all really just the thought of another surgery is).

    Now more to the point...what a beautiful escapade through the gardens! I think if I was there in real life I would be reduced to tears. They are breathtaking in your photos I can only imagine how they startle your senses in person.

    Please do add as many of the garden shots as your time allows, I never tire of viewing them.

    Hugs and thanks..

  30. You did what any impassioned photographer would do, made all these beautiful "clicks" come alive! Even though, I am surrounded by the majestic Rockies, I shall never forget, this beautiful place of my birth, I shall never forget that spectacular Table Mountain in the background in one of your pictures! Thank you!

  31. Stunning! I'm lost for words!

  32. Desiree, "H" said it. Simply stunning. I couldn't believe, well, yes I could, all those bee's so involved in that one bloom. And. the gate..gorgeous. For some reason I love gates and keep buying them..putting them here and there in my yard where there are NO fences. :)
    Just a virtual paradise! Everywhere you look that was beauty.
    What a lovely place to spend time in!

  33. Every year I promise myself that we will visit the open gardens and every year something crops up that prevents it, but your photo's are so amazing that this year I will feel as if I have been there. Can't wait for the next post.

  34. That exquisite garden looks like it's been there forever. I've never seen anything like it. Now I'm looking forward to the virtual tour of the rest of the gardens you were privileged to visit.

  35. Looks like paradise - I love the 'secret' bit. And yes, it has an English feel to it.

  36. How beautiful! I would have been so excited to see that all in person, in fact it would be hard for me to leave. How lucky to get to see the private garden too!

  37. ...i'm going backwards here...and that first stone staue reminds me of the one in the previous post...are they related??!! :) be smothered by flowers, trees, bushes, fountains...i have never seen such amazing gardens in person!! thanks for taking us all along desiree!

  38. what a lovely Garden and the photos are fantastic I could hear those bees.

  39. Hello Desiree. Thank you so much for following my fledgeling blog!Thank you for all your kind comments, even on some of my first posts when I had very little idea of how to blog... I still learn every day and as for photography, well, I always have it on my "to do" list to find out how my camera actually works but still haven't done it!!! sigh,,,,so for now its just aim and shoot and hope for the best... I simply couldn't do a post on La Rive without including a link to yours! I can't wait to visit the rest of your Franschoek gardens, some of which I couldn't get to... After completing the La Rive post I too had to giggle at how some of our shots are so similar. So happy to find your blog.

    Happy weekend

  40. Only one word for this garden, Spectacular. Thank you for taking us along with you. Could you get more perfection? Climate, views, plants, sculpture.

  41. Erica Graceland

    Stunning in every respect. I wopuld like to know how it keeps it's lush green look, after all this is SA and not England.

  42. How exquisite - thank you for sharing this. What a piece of heaven.


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