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Create a moving garden

Published on November 12th 2020
A close up of a tree
There seems to be little as relaxing as watching plants transform into ocean waves as the summer wind moves through a garden. As the windy days keep us indoors, the garden should still be a solace to admire.
If you want to add a bit of movement in the garden or have an open patch that receives little water then why not try something new? Add some visual effects to your garden!
A group of palm trees next to a tree
Some wispy fynbos species may provide little in foliage, but burst with tiny flowers that sway in the wind during summer months.

Plants that move

We often see wind as something dastardly, but why not turn a negative into a positive by using the wind to your advantage? There are several ways to use plants to observe the beauty behind a strong wind.
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You can add wavelike grasses, trees with wispy leaves or rattling seedpods, even a tiny blooming shrublet that will vibrate with bees. The following sections will address each group of plants and give some suggestions for you to consider.
A close up of a plant


When one talks about moving plants, a few things come to mind. The first is grasses. Blue, grey, beige and green grasses make up some of the best colour palettes for an airy garden.
It is so inspiring that one botanical florist, opus, incorporates an assortment of grasses in gorgeous floral arrangements.
By making use of indigenous grasses, you can create a sea on land or a strip of movement on a sun-filled windy balcony.
Here is a list of some local grasses that flower during summer:
Remember, indigenous and exotic grasses are always in the same area, so make sure you select the former and avoid invasive grasses (such as Fountain Grass).
A close up of a gladiolus
Gladioli are great vibrant additions to a grassy patch and will put on a show during spring.

A splash of colour

If you find yourself tempted to add grasses, but still want a splash of colour then why not try adding in some wispy species that would appreciate the support that grasses offer?
A few good suggestions:
  • Indigofera filifolia
  • Lachnaea capitata
You can also play around with exploding seed pods by including a gorgeous Gomphocarpus fruticosus (Milkweed). The cotton-like seeds will provide endless entertainment.
A close up of a leucodendron
Play with the colours within the foliage to have a longer lasting vibrant display.


When it comes to trees, you do not need to plant a bamboo forest to appreciate the sound of the wind. By selecting a tree with seedpods, one can create a wonderful scene with helicopter seeds or rattling of the pods as they dry.
Some Albizia have seed pods that dry out to be both stunning backdrops as well as a refuge for nesting birds. Having the seeds rattling in the wind is like having a natural wind chime.
Here are some suggestions:
Remember that you can add Spanish Moss to existing trees to create movement. This is ideal for coastal gardens that have both moisture and a bit of rain. Otherwise, you will need to provide it with a bit of TLC every now and then.
seed pods

Kinetic art

Adding art to a garden gives it a slightly different esthetic appeal. Making use of the summer winds by placing gorgeous pieces of moving art will give your garden an element of surprise. South Africa is home to a hand full of amazing kinetic sculptors including Etienne de Rock, Mark O’Donovan and Justin Fiske.
Each work of art has its own appeal and can be powered by wind, water or gravity. You might have come across their work at The Old Biscuit Mill, Franschhoek or Knysna. If you would like a behind the scenes look at what Etienne does, you can have a look at his gallery interview on Facebook.
If you want to opt for something more subtle, then why not try smaller pieces such as the gorgeous ceramic bird and nest hangers by local artist Liffey Joy. It might just encourage a few more birds to fly by.
A close up of a bird
Introducing striking pieces of art, such as these gorgeous ceramic and fibre installations by Liffey Joy, will draw the eye.

The best way to garden is by turning a negative into a positive. Let us know how you make use of wind in your garden.

Honig, M. (2014). Indigenous Plant Palettes. Quivertree Publications.
Van Oudshoorn, F. P., van Rheede, F. P., McPhee, P. J., Scotney, D. M., & Trollope, W. S. W. (1991). Gids tot grasse van Suid-Afrika. Briza.
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