The winners of the small and large garden categories in the PE Express and Die Burger’s PE Garden of the Year competition both confess to be surprised, but delighted with their accomplishment.

After intense deliberation, judges Louw Lochner of Remax Independent Walmer, Carmel Wolf of Sherwood Garden Centre, Wayne Hackart of Out of Africa Stone and Mimi Rupp of SmartStone named Harm Grobbelaar of Lorraine and Yolanda van der Vyver of Greenacres Village as the winners of the large and small garden categories respectively.

Grobbelaar, whose garden was described by the judges as extremely well structured with a beautiful design, says he did not really enter the competition to win, but was curious to hear what the judges would say about his garden.

“My garden is quite unusual,” he says. “To give you an idea, I have a black swimming pool and dragons in the garden. This dark, gothic theme carries through into my house.

“I tried to include covered walkways in the layout as well as different levels to the garden. One almost gets the feeling that you are in a whole new area depending on where you walk in the garden.”

Grobbelaar’s advice to other enthusiastic gardeners is simple. “Don’t be afraid to try you ideas. A design should almost be like a bulb that you plant in your garden. It must lie there a bit before it will sprout new leaves.

“It’s the same with inspiration. One should wait for it and when it strikes, follow it. Don’t think, just do it.”

Yolanda van der Vyver, who bowled the judges over with the clever use of her small garden, believes the many focal points in her garden clinched her victory. “I think I had a good mixture of hard and soft elements to make the design flow,” she says.

“I am particularly proud of the way I hid the washing line. I have been gardening since the age of ten and gardening is in my blood. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the competition and will definitely enter again given the chance.

“It really was a last minute thing. I only heard about the competition a week before entries closed.

“I didn’t have time to do anything special with my garden. It is just the way I usually keep it and that’s what made the win such a lovely surprise.”

Van der Vyver says in her experience it is best to stick to a few plants that look good all year round and plant lots of them, rather than have too many different types in a small garden. She says that way, if one plant dies, it does not leave a noticeable hole in the garden.

Grobbelaar says the PE Garden of the Year competition was a wonderful initiative, especially because it also gives amateur gardeners a chance to display their handiwork. “One often just hears about the gardens designed by professional landscape artists, but this way the little guy can also get the recognition he or she deserves.”

The water wise and corporate winners will be featured in next week’s editions of the Leefstyl and PE Express.

The PE Garden of the Year competition was held in conjunction with Sherwood Garden Centre, Louw Lochner of Remax Independent Walmer and Swabey Velthuysen Attorneys.