Development of the Guest Farm - Cottages
Having spent 2007 renovating and building the main farmhouse and BnB units, we decided that there was scope for 2 cottages in a beautiful, though completely undeveloped part of the farm a couple of hundred metres from the garden. It borders on the part of the farm which had been arable land but was now – with much encouragement – returning to natural open woodland. The site nestled against a rocky ridge which is in fact a continuation of the one in the main garden.
The area is dominated by a large fig tree and several venerable Paperbark Thorns

The real beginning…

A borehole was required as the site was too far away and we did not want to put more pressure on the existing borehole at the farm house. A very successful drilling operation indeed as we found good water at a relatively shallow depth at the first site. Some geological knowledge can be useful, especially when backed up by a technical investigation.

As we were starting towards the end of summer – April in fact – the area was dominated by grass. This had to be cut back before we could even think of positioning the buildings.

 

It transpired that there were a lot more rocks than we had anticipated too, but more of those later.

Once we had cleared the undergrowth it became very apparent that 2 cottages would fit ideally with sufficient room to ensure a great deal of privacy for separate occupants, but enough common ground that one large group could use both

.….and so to the building
The building began, and, as every building project I’m sure, rapidly began to look like a total mess such that only Johan knew what was happening
Progress then became apparent and at last we became certain that what we wanted would arise – phoenix like – from the soil and rock debris.
The cottages were finally taking shape and were exactly as we had desired – more so in fact; to visualise something on paper is a very long way from seeing it in concrete (and wood and granite).
There remained one slight issue: the pile of rocks and associated debris and the fact that the surrounds of the beautiful cottages resembled nothing less than the site of a major disaster that had caused ground movements on a scale normally associated with high end Richter scale earthquakes.
Large numbers of rocks that had once been part of the ridges were now  piled in between the buildings.
The idea of ‘Rock planting’  in specific places, not merely dumping them took quite a lot of practice, but having an idea of the end result – the natural ridges – made the concept much easier to achieve.
It is amazing, however, what landscaping one can achieve with a front end loader.
Not delicate stuff mind you, but within a few days the piles of rocks began to resemble something that could actually attain the status of part of a planned (more or less) garden.
Grass was planted in the immediate vicinity of the cottages and with lots more hard labour using ropes, crowbars and no little muscular effort produced a layout that we thought had distinct possibilities.

It also produced several visits to local Physiotherapists and Chiropractors to reduce the strains and associated skeletal damage caused by moving several tonnes of rocks.

 Liberal applications of Gin & Tonic (internally) also proved invaluable.

We tried to emulate the natural ridges behind the cottage sites, and to incorporate the existing trees and Aloes.
A lot of what we planted was in fact derived from the ridges and was accentuated by other plants of the same habits and characteristics.
The remainder of the area within the fences was designated as managed veldt and as such is now mostly short grass and African potato (Hypoxus).
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