House McCormack


The Bristlecone Nursery Floating Trophy for the Most Innovative and Original Use of Plant Material goes to Simon Clements Garden & Landscape Design for House McCormack at Mount Edgecombe in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

‘This house is very private from the road entering the property. It literally gives nothing away. As soon as one enters the front yard, there is a glimpse of what’s to come without spoiling the party with the softening of the exposed concrete aggregate, with lawn and a hedge that frames the boundary wall. The magic happens as one enters the backyard where the design had to contend by creating a meaningful definition of the land while embracing the view of the Indian Ocean. The space is small but the size and design of the house allowed for pockets of design. 

In an interesting selection of plants, we experience the vibrancy of Dune Fern providing a backdrop to the boldness of Scadoxus and a few natural grasses. The Nymphaea (Water Lily) gives a nice introduction to the Cyperus which stands tall and solid creating a backdrop for the water feature that connects the two halves of the house. 

There is indeed a seamless transition between the garden and its surrounding landscapes leading towards the ocean which is a safe haven for the colony of monkeys that lives in Mt. Edgecombe.’- Judge’s Commentary

In February 2017, Simon Clements headed into the design process with the client and architect and by August, soil works commenced. Planting was implemented between September and November. Intense post-installation maintenance had to be done and was completed by February the following year. New gardener training included briefing the new gardener on the style of the garden, how the garden will evolve and grow into itself, what to expect and how to manage it. 

Simon Clements is responsible for occasional and additional planting by request of the client.

The site

Set on a primary sea-facing dune overlooking Umdloti, the steep and challenging site consisted of a copse of Mimusops caffra within the construction area and was also badly overrun with invasive alien vegetation, in particular, Barbados gooseberry (Pereskia aculeata).

In preparation for landscaping, a dedicated team of alien vegetation removal practitioners manually removed the alien plants. The slope was stabilised by adding good quality topsoil and compost, leaf litter, and by densely planting indigenous ground cover (specifically Asystasia gangetica and Microsorum scolopendria). Lastly, all builders’ rubble and cementitious waste was carefully removed from the planting areas.

The brief and realisation of the brief

The client had an enormous appreciation for the KZN coast and dune forests, so they quickly bought into the idea of creating a ‘curated wilderness’ by recreating a lush, coastal red milkwood forest with carefully selected understory plants. Additional Milkwoods were planted into the existing copse and throughout the garden. Understory plants included Clivias, Scadoxis, Haemanthus albiflos and Dracaena aletriformis. Screening was achieved by using a classic Brachylaena and Strelitzia nicolai mix. 

To ensure that the brief was properly achieved, special attention was given to alien vegetation removal and soil amelioration, as a significant part of the budget, was allocated to building up a good soil profile. Appropriate plant selections and placement as well as post-installation maintenance was part of implementation as Simon Clements included 3 months of post-installation maintenance on our larger contracts.

Understanding that no garden is truly ‘low maintenance’ and that gardens require on-going, regular input from a dedicated gardener, is an important part of ensuring the long-term success of a landscape.  We were very fortunate that this client understood this.

Sourcing materials

Simon Clements develop good relationships with all suppliers and ensure that the plants and materials used on jobs are of the best quality.  Simon and his team often visit nurseries for specific jobs to carefully select the trees and plants used and have these set aside. All trees are guaranteed for a year, post-installation.

Size: 500 m²

Completed: 2022

Location: Mount Edgecombe, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Simon Clements Garden & Landscape Design


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