Monday, November 21, 2011

Vue de Ciele [Franschhoek Open Garden 2011]

View from the steeply winding driveway up to the manor house at Vue de Ciel
Here I am, back again, to proceed with you on our visit to Vue de Ciele, another of the wonderful, private gardens in Franschhoek that were opened to the public for viewing, in order to raise much needed funding for the Fleur de Lis home for the aged.

This large and challenging garden is situated on a working wine farm. It was raining when we visited, but this did not deter us in the slightest! I just kept my camera lens tucked into my fleecy top between taking pictures.
I have elected to share this particular garden with you right after the garden at Klein Champagne, since it is entirely different in concept, design and location. Here, we're up a mountainside, whereas Klein Champagne is nestled on a fertile valley floor with oodles of water readily available. 
 We briefly met the owner of this remarkably steep, hillside garden, after we'd inadvertently wandered a little 'off route'...
 ...but were still following one of the many laid out paths and found ourselves at a dead end, at the far end of her very large house.
 We were standing beside her modest, but lovely, shade covered vegetable garden, realising we needed to retrace our steps when Carol Cunningham appeared (and, no, I did not get a picture of the vegetable garden, although I now wish I had!) 
She'd seen us approaching and came to ask us to please return the way we'd come.
She was very sweet about it and explained that she was concerned about her prized breeding ducks. 
They live in a specially created haven, a beautiful pond situated off a private patio just ahead of where we'd found ourselves and she didn't want to risk them being frightened by us.
We aplogised and were just on the point of retracing our steps, when she offered to allow us to follow her quietly into the "off-bounds" area and she'd let us out the front. Naturally, we politely declined, as we had no intention of over-stepping our boundary. She did invite us to take a peek into the ducks' area from the other side of the property, which we did, being very careful not to startle the contented, colourful ducks sunning themselves in their wonderfully secluded eden.
This garden was a riot of colour, planted almost exclusively, but not entirely with indigenous plantings.

 Built on a steep gradient, the terrain is very rocky and exposed to the full force of the elements. 

It was incredible to see what has been achieved in only five years, since the garden was first laid out. Carol explained that it had had its own set of challenges, but that she'd had the invaluable input of her resident Lady Gardener (who lives in a cottage on the farm, within visible distance of the main house).  

Everywhere we turned, there was something to draw the eye in...

With an abundance of natural rock and the plentiful use of wonderfully, sculptural pieces of wood...

All vying with each other to make the most profound impression...

This really was a garden begging to be explored and admired...after all, just look at the backdrop it has to compete with! (See the Lady Gardener's cottage in the background, off right?)

The many carefully planned winding paths at our feet tempted us to follow...that would explain how we 'got lost'

Pockets of the brightest hued annuals stole the show in all the little nooks and crannies, begging for closer inspection!

But...the piece de resistance was arguably the suspended deck!

Even on a rainy day, its charms were undeniably irresistible...

And my camera just couldn't get its fill of all the angles (I took dozens of pictures!)

I guessed this to be a shrine to a loved pet, perhaps? It was  constructed beautifully, of marble, as were several other attractively ornate features strategically positioned throughout the garden.

The rim flow pool added to the sense of infinity pervading this breath-taking view point... 

The carved wooden fishes and selection of shells drew one back to earth.

Perched high on the hill, this house looked even more imposing from below!

The entrance to the house is behind, approached by an even steeper section of  driveway...this is the only 'level' area of this property and it is here that the plantings are particularly vivid.

The amount of care and planning that has gone into creating this garden in only five years is truly astounding! 

This is not some pampered, sheltered suburban garden. This garden is built on the top of a rocky mountain!

Who would believe it, seeing this picture as an example?

A beautifully fashioned pathway leads to the main entrance of this lovely home.

Yes, I know, I could not resist a closer look!

Interesting details were everywhere!

The views from every part of this garden are exquisite! No inkling of claustrophobia here!

Believe me, I was as startled to encounter the resident feline as it was to see me! I'd never seen a cat like this up close! It had the bluest eyes I've seen, but I could not capture their intensity. 

A marble bird bath nestled amongst rough rock. What a pretty surprise!

Other surprises were strategically placed etched stepping stones, no two, the same.

I have a new respect for amaryllis...look at them growing out in the African sun (admittedly it was a rainy day)...while I pamper and cosset my one plant in my greenhouse. It never looks as good as these!

This garden uses water wherever possible, to excellent effect!
Another surprise stepping stone, glistening in the rain.

This fountain, in the centre of the large circular entrance driveway succeeded in getting me to photograph it from all conceivable angles. I couldn't choose which was the best, so went eeny meeny miny mo! It always helps!

No expense has been spared in choosing eye-catching pots and urns with which to decorate this dramatic garden! 

Just to remind you once again, you really are halfway up a mountainside!

The landscaper has sought and found beauty in every rock, stone and hunk of wood. Everything works harmoniously together to create something very special indeed!

I do hope you enjoyed seeing Vue de Ciele as much as we did! I, again, feel I was unable to adequately do justice to this garden. I felt that way about nearly all of the gardens we visited!  


  1. My God this is such a wonderful place! Th elittle ducks re so sweet :)

  2. I wanted to start writing, I love the first picture of the bush. One in our gardens do not grow. But as I opened the other pictures - it was a shock to me. Gardens at the foot of the mountains is amazing. There is like a paradise. I admired the flowers, ponds, ornaments, flowers on the edge of the road leading to the house. The landscape around also wonderful. I greet warmly. I hope the translation is understandable GOOGLE TRANSLATOR :-)

  3. Hi my friend. What can I say?! Yet more stunning photos for us to look at, of an amazing garden. I can't believe that all that has been put together in just 5 years. Incredible! I loved the path leading up to the main entrance. Such lovely shaped doors. Gosh,that cat isn't very pretty, is it - and I'm being polite here!! Thank you again for such a sumptious tour of yet another garden. Hugs.

  4. That cat !!!!!!!!!!!! ...........♥.. ♥... ♥....

  5. Again beautiful landscape with flowers.


  6. Yes, it's me, that darned Shady Tom. I'm back, as our friend Thisisme would say, like a bad penny.

    I was nearly blinded by the first picture with it's vivid display of magenta blooms framing mountain mist. I would love to get lost on this property as you did, Desiree. As I believe I told you before I love the vertical aspect of gardens like these build on a steep slope. I love the rocky terrain, the fact that so many natural objects were incorporated into the scheme of things such as rocks, boulders and twisted wood to create a festival of shapes, textures and colors. I love inclusion of plunging water falls, fountains and pools which add soothing white noise and life to the gardens. Those ducks have a perfect habitat as long as the owner can keep Kurious Kitty away from them. I can only imagine what a pleasure it would be to lounge on that elevated deck sipping a cool drink and letting minutes turn into hours as I gazed spellbound in every direction.

    Glorious post, Desiree! Every picture is a painting that begs to be committed to canvas. Every one of your captions is sheer poetry. I could not improve on any of them! Thank you and good night to you, my dear friend!

  7. Wow! Where do I begin! I love everything about this extensive garden ... the colours, the textures, the plantings. Your photos show an amazing creation, given that it's only taken five years to get to this stage. Beautiful photos! I'm glad you 'wandered' off the path, because those areas were fantastic. What a feast for the eyes!

  8. Yay! I get to be first, unless someone beats me to the punch! As usual, Desiree, your photos of these gardens are outstandingly beautiful! I have so many favorites, that I can't list them all! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

  9. Thank you so much Des for sharing this gorgeous garden with us! Thank you to Carol too and the resident lady gardening expert! I particularly like the bright colors against a brooding grey sky...We hope the cat does not scare the ducks!

  10. I love this garden! I was especially attracted to the pool with the waterfall but the whole place is wonderful. It looks so natural!

  11. A few words come to mind...breathtaking, spectacular, beautiful, majestic are only a few. Thanks again for sharing such beauty.

  12. What an amazingly beautiful garden, such an interesting juxtaposition of the cultivated areas with the wildness of the terrain as its backdrop. Your bright, colorful pictures are so welcome here, in the midst of our gray, wet late autumn.

  13. Dear Desiree,
    Once again you've confounded me! You post a garden and I'm sure that it's the most lovely, lush, decorative garden I've seen. Then the next one comes and I think, "No, it's this one! This is best!"

    Now today you give us photographs and text on a garden embracing a hillside. Enhancing it. Beckoning you and us to take paths that lead to wonder.

    Desiree, I just can't get enough of these gardens and I find myself wondering what is it about those of you who live in South Africa that you so treasure gardens. Please tell me or post about that. I've never seen so many flowers in so many niches among so many shrubs that provide backdrop.

    Loveliness, thy name is a South African garden.


  14. Absolutely gorgeous Des. I love the rustic look of the gardens that give a hint of wilderness but so well kept. They have some interesting wildlife there, especially that cat. You hit another home run out of the ball park with this one girl. You have such a talented eye for capturing just the right scene to wow us. Thank for all your efforts that keep us entertained.

  15. Oh Desiree! This was another gorgeous spot to visit! All the strategically placed pieces of wood and unusual rocks...the surprises in the walkway...the shock of the hairless cat...the views...the flowers...the pots...all of it! I am so glad you let me wander with you. ;)

  16. What a treasure of a garden and the home's main intrance has the most beautiful and inviting pathway I've ever seen. Lovely photos Desiree!

  17. gosh so much colour crammed into that garden - I cant believe it, and all the water features, and the strelitzia, and the proteas, even the nasturtiums cascading down into the pond! There is no way I could choose a favourite. Thanks for wangling your way into yet another garden for our viewing pleasure.

  18. I'm overwhelmed with the beauty of the garden and the contrast with the rugged setting. I'll be back later to catch up on the gardens I missed. Thank you for taking so many wonderful pictures!

  19. Each picture was better then the one before. I'm speechless. I have to guess those gardens raise a lot of money for the aged or I hope so.

    I would LOVE to see this in person.

    I enjoyed the flowers, the rocks, the colors, the . . .


  20. Hello Desiree! I don't think I've ever been first before!

    Your photos are breathtaking, as always! I am ever amazed at the beauty that surrounds you in South Africa! These gardens, I think, were perhaps the most spectacular, in particular because they were all created within the past five years! The pictures were gorgeous, and yet I know, in person it must have been even more gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this beautiful spot. I loved the last photo, that really puts the whole series into perspective, doesn't it?

    I'm glad you enjoyed my rendition of the trip Deb & I enjoyed on Saturday. We had such a good day!

    Hugs to you!

  21. Vue d Ciele is exquisite. The stone pathway with the plantings within is my favorite!

  22. Oh my word!!! This must be one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. All the flowers in bloom are amazing.

  23. Sometime..I wonder if you are hiding a pair of wings! Thank you so much for your comments. So often you make my day. You really do, Desiree!

    I think you capture the gardens beautifully. Example. When I say the photo of the water spilling over the wall..for a split second I could actually hear it!! :) Now that's good photography!

    Without your tours we wouldn't get to experience such lovely scenery so far away in another part of the world. I know everyone feels the same way I do. Read and believe! :)

  24. The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!

  25. My garden is pitiful by comparison. These are stunning photographs.

  26. I'm so jealous. You are a lucky woman to be able to go see such beauty and capture it.. Well except that cat. He was a little creepy. lol

  27. Hi Desiree,
    Beautiful photos - so many different beautiful colors! I enjoyed the journey today :) thank you so much for sharing all this beauty. You certainly live in a paradise. Have a lovely evening my friend! Hugs x

  28. I have never seen such a beautiful and colorfull garden. Amazing.
    Really love it !!!
    But that cat ???? I love cats, but this one gives me a stranges feeling......
    Greetings from Holland.
    Bianca xx

  29. my goodness, this is a gorgeous place! i'd have gotten lost there too! the coral colored blooms that look almost like feathery paintbrushes are just pulling at my heart! gorgeous!

    fyi - i've been following you via feed for quite a while, but just switched to the google friend connect block so i can get your posts on a more timely basis. :)

  30. Thank you for the nice comment. The birds will eat all winter. I will also fatten them. MALWA - it's in English HOOYHOCK :-). Yours

  31. What beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing them. My son's work is in Landscape Architecture so he is all about designing beautiful things for people's yards. "Make everything better than you found it" my mother always says. Maybe I need to blog about that one day. Thx for the inspiration. Sandra

  32. An interesting garden - this one looks not at all 'English'. The details are lovely.

  33. Oh my goodness glory girl...just as our land becomes brown and barren for the winter, I drop into this lush haven of beautiful plants.

    Sweetie, I have to say ya made my day!

    Thanks for sharin' these wonderful gardens with us. I loved the stroll.

    God bless ya and have a marvelous day my friend! :o)

    BTW: place!

  34. Once again the photos are breathtaking! I showed some to my mom and she wants to look at the other gardens tomorrow when we have more time.
    I wanted to say a quick thank you for the comment on Peanut's blog and for the Thanksgiving card. You are so sweet!

  35. Oh, my Dear friend Desiree.
    Breathtaking and Gorgeous pictures of the manor house at Vue de Ciel♡♡♡
    What a magnificent place!!! Thank you very much, I enjoyed every picture of this heavenly place.
    May I say that I especially love the close-up shots of yours, which may impossible without the single-lens reflex (haha, sorry about the comment from the amateur)
    These flowers of close-up are wonderful!!!
    Besides the stunning pictures of yours, it was kind of gave me a smile reading you say "I just kept my camera lens tucked into my fleecy top between taking pictures."
    Blessing to you from Japan, my friend. Miyako*

  36. There's something of the eternal in all this beauty. Problems seem to float away. A nice gift to us. Thanks.

  37. I'm loving you taking us through all these stunning gardens. Each one seems to better than the last. This one is amazing to have been developed on a rocky mountan and within 5 years. I guess a full time live in gardner would help. I would love to live there.

  38. Witam, z przyjemnością pooglądałam wszystkie zdjęcia, cudowny ogród i śliczne rośliny.

  39. I showed these to my daughters and said, "How vibrant and beautiful! Purple and orange have always been some of my favorite colors."

    My second oldest daughter smiled at me and said, "Well, now I can see why."

    Thank you for showing me, my children and everyone who comes to your blog, the beautiful of our world.

  40. gorgeous!! once again...what a breath taking walk...through these unbelievable gardens!!
    i love it all! the flowers...the weathered wood, the stepping stones, the sculptures...WoW!!

    and i wish i was a duck! :)

  41. oh my... I am happy as a pig in mud to find and follow your blog!! I had a fab visit here and relived my visit to Franschoek! We must have passed each other snapping away like crazy!! I am working on my post of La Rive at the moment!

    Tassels Twigs and Tastebuds
    Mother City Magic

  42. It has been said that Eden was in Africa, Now I think they must have meant South Africa. Have a Happy Thanksgiving Des! And thank you so much for Elliot's e card.
    The photography is stunning. I was startled to see that cat! Amazing amazing amazing is all I can say. It's really a comforting feeling to think about your part of the world, that such beauty exists.

  43. Hi Desiree, This is another post that I had to look through a few times. The quality of gardens in this area is so impressive that it will be hard to choose a favourite. This one was no exception; it is so beautiful! Your photographs might well be in a gardening magazine.

  44. Absolutely fantastic how the design of the garden includes and draws in the surrounding landscape. It would be awful if there were hedges or fences to enclose it.

  45. Your pictures are simply stunning!!......I have never seen such gorgeous gardens...This is why I love blogging so get see see places all over the world that you normally would never get the chance to experiance.....Thank you for stopping by my blog via Sandie's.....And you took the time to not only read one but you read many posts....I really appreciate that...
    I hope you come back often and I know I will be coming to yours.....Sue @ Rue-Mouffetard

  46. Wow! You shared so many stunning photos in this post that I cannot even begin to mention my favourites to you Desiree, the list goes on and on. What a wonderful garden.

  47. Every time you post a new garden I think it's my favorite! LOL

    But, if I was an artist, I think this is the one I would want to paint.

  48. What a pack of beauties and so full of energy too!
    I think we must get ourselves another doggie. It's been years since we had on but I think it will help with emotional attachment and getting out daily. That can only lead to better health for all!


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