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The Oyster Box A garden paradise on the beach

Following an extensive two-year re-building and refurbishment programme, the Oyster Box, a Member of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and a Leading Hotel of The World, re-opened her doors for business on 1 October 2009.

Taking a site from ‘barren to beautiful’ is nothing new to Jean Wouters, the landscape consultant who worked on The Oyster Box, although it did have its ‘challenges’ she admits. “The rehabilitation of the site began soon after the hotel was closed for renovations,” says Wouters, “and the planting plan put in place. All the Aloes and a number of the mature plants such as Frangipani, Strelitzia and Hibiscus, were re-located to a local nursery and all the large established trees such as the Milkwoods, Ficus (Figs) and Trichelia (Natal Mahogany), have been cared for, in situ, throughout the building phase.” Wouters worked closely with the architect and the owners in the planning of the new gardens and brought in her colleague, Franchesca Watson to work with her on the project. “In our minds we wanted to re-create a luxurious, glamorous, colonial feel to suit the architectural style of the hotel, while making it lush and sultry to fit into the tropical landscape. As a result all the plants and colours, such as warm fuschias, reds and deep oranges, have been chosen, to create this feeling.”

“Beautiful water features and ponds brimming with Lilies and Lotus Flowers and trees adorned with orchids and Staghorn Ferns, add detail and interesting touches, to the garden paradise. A second swimming pool, antique bird aviary and an intricate Victorian-style Gazebo, with a small amphitheatre, which can be used for wedding ceremonies and photography, lend an air of peace and tranquility to the floral landscape. Wouters, who hails from the Cape, says that one of the most challenging aspects of the project was ‘sourcing the required plants at the right size in order to create this sub-tropical garden in the middle of Winter!’ “Over the past six months I have visited just about every nursery and show-garden from one side of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to the other, to find the right plants for the Oyster Box gardens.

“None of the plants are really at their best at the moment because of the time of year, but I am confident that when everything starts to settle in, it’s going to be glorious.” Maintenance of the extensive gardens will be left in the capable hands of Brendan Fox of Emerald Landscaping.

Observing environmental best practice, only organic fertilisers will be used on the property and ‘grey’ water, harvested from showers, baths and wash-hand basins, will be used wherever possible. In addition, rainwater will be directed off the roofs via an extensive underground pipe network to a large storage tank for use in the gardens and an Earth Worm Farm will turn suitable kitchen waste into liquid fertilizer for use in the gardens. The Oyster Box is the third property within the Red Carnation Group in South Africa, which Jean Wouters has been responsible for creating. “Each garden has been completely different,” she says. “From the walled garden and food garden at Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Retreat in the Cederberg, to the indigenous, coastal garden at the foot of the Twelve Apostles Mountain range, at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa.”

For more information about the Oyster Box or to make restaurant, event or function bookings call +27 315145000 or e-mail

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The Oyster Box, Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal