ords by Grace Crooks, photos by Sally Chance
For artist, Miranda Crooks, the canvas extends from her studio, into the garden. She dives deep into the natural pallets surrounding her home in the KZN Midlands. The 45h farm has been evolving for 30years, but the garden took on a new lease on life with the introduction of the succulent collection.
Of all the spaces on the property: oak forests and rolling hills of veld grass overlooking Midmar Dam, Miranda expresses that one of her favourite spots is the hothouse. "Built with recycled bits and pieces and having a timber frame of untreated wood makes it a haven for carpenter bees, which constantly zoom about. It is a space for propagation and nurture, protecting plants from summer downpours and winter frost.
It's a walkway that links the succulent garden to the citrus trees, food gardens and chicken coup. It is a well-worn path, a favourite route and a great distraction bringing me to hover when I should be going one way or the other."
Miranda uses the already existing layout of the buildings and orientation on the hill to compliment the garden further. Even in Winter, the colours illuminate the whole area, bringing life to what might otherwise be a monochrome scene. Placing a dark aloe next to a bright leafy Helichrysum is a curation on its own, showing the relationship Miranda has with visuals, be it indoors or out.
Not only is the farm visually pleasing, but the valley is populated with indigenous trees, encouraging the rehabilitation for wildlife such as bushbuck.
The architecturally interesting houses of Hillhouse self-catering accommodation are nestled amongst this all. Miranda also keeps bees and harvests the honey as a hobby. "For me, gardening is hugely therapeutic as well as a wonderful art form. Plants are such miraculous earthly inhabitants, I am constantly inspired and intrigued by their colour and form.Creating botanical photographic images and paintings is part of my creative expression." This can be seen in her most recent body of work, inspired by the plants in the garden.
Mr Price Home approached Miranda for a collaborative project which involved adapting her botanical watercolour paintings to furniture, bedding and homeware.
The Hillhouse Garden has hosted three open garden events, encouraging the appreciation of such a space.
It's curious how we as creatives, and as humans, have a desire to expand, to grow and to make more - especially when it's something beautiful. The garden is exactly this space of aesthetic beauty, where the chaos of nature is met with a sense of playful design.