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Zululami landscaping awarded: Environment is pure gold

Life Landscapes won 3 awards at the South African Landscape Institute (SALI) Awards earlier this year – for Landscaping at Zululami Luxury Coastal Estate at Sheffield Beach on the KZN North Coast. The first was in the category “Landscape Construction Designed by Others”, for which Life Landscapes won a gold award. The design was by Bernice Rumble of Land Art Studios and the landscape construction by the talented team at Life Landscapes, headed up by the directors, Terry van der Riet and Arthur Cowan.

Life Landscapes was also awarded a Silver Certificate in the category: “Waterwise Best Practice”, for being involved in plant selection, irrigation management, mulching and techniques involving the responsible use of water in the landscape.

The third award was the National Floating Trophy for: “The Most Innovative and Original Use of Plant Material in the Landscape”. This is a top award nationally, and credit goes to Bernice Rumble and Land Art Studios, the appointed Landscape Architects for the Estate.

“This is the Oscars of landscaping,” grins Terry. “We’re thrilled with the Awards, because the SALI judging is intense and the interrogation of the work robust.”  Entry consists of an initial regional round of judging, then for those short-listed, a physical site visit with probing questioning by national judges around all aspects of the project. 

This year, the annual SALI Awards attracted over 130 entries countrywide. Submissions were in October 2020, with judging in February this year. Life Landscapes only heard they’d won the awards at the virtual awards ceremony held on June 1st. “We weren’t only happy for ourselves of course, but for Land Art Studios and, importantly, our client at Zululami, Collins Residential. The Collins’ commitment to sustainability, and concern about rehabilitation and the creation of an authentic environment true to the region keeps us all working hard towards the same goal.”

The award submission was for the Zululami entrance, which includes the gatehouse, the Homeowners Association offices, sales centre and on to the end of the paving. It included the stunning green wall and roof garden, which were undoubtedly major contributors to their success. The amount of growth in a specified period is also noted by the judges, because that speaks to the inclusion of all those elements and actions which promote growth. But as striking as the green wall and roof is, “The judges commented very favorably on our conscious decision to use grasses en masse, as opposed to the usual treed approach,” says Terry. “That was Bernice’s design decision, and it was a brave one for which we’re all very happy.”

Land Art’s Bernice Rumble explained her motivation, “The gatehouse is positioned at a high point on the southern boundary of Zululami, and is therefore affected by our seasonal winds, which I found very energetic. After visiting the site numerous times, I decided it was important to exhibit this energy in the plant choices. What plants would exhibit this energy within a local context? That’s when I decided to use wild indigenous grasses as the dominant plant form. They free-flow and display this energetic site exactly as imagined, their kinetic movement being part of the effect. They also provide the seasonality that we love, as gardens are dynamic and our passion is around making unique and textural outdoor spaces.”

The grasses also provide a wonderful habitat for birds, butterflies and little creatures, and are – surprising to many – more biodiverse than forests. “The judges spoke up strongly in their favour,” says Terry, “particularly as they feed into our vision of minimal interference, water wise, primarily endemic species, and little maintenance required.”

This is not the first award for Life Landscapes…and it won’t be the last, Terry laughs, “Just wait for our Zululami Clubhouse to be more mature. It’s magnificent. And then, there’s the entire Zululami Estate too, but we may have to wait a little while for it to grow into itself but watch these green spaces!”  

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