Amazonas is an upmarket, eleven storey apartment complex in Sandton, Gauteng. As the name suggests, it was inspired by the tropical rain forest of South America and the landscaping sought to provide a lush oasis around the building. Jon Jackson and Andre Pienaar  of IInika Landscaping brought the theme to reality and have ensured that the landscaping lives up to the chosen name, creating lush, jungle-like gardens for the use of residents. Different open areas were created by pathways through flower beds to establish a feeling of walking through a jungle.

Bringing birdlife to the urban space was also a key consideration. Says Jackson: "We wanted to create a paradise for birds in this very built-up area, with good nesting sites, water and food."
The landscaping appears to move in a circle around the high-rise building. Starting at the main entrance, a rock water feature makes an instant impression in this prominent area. The water falls over jagged rocks into a round pool, so there is both moving and still water. The structure was built from Magaliesburg rock on top of reinforced concrete and is surrounded by dense planting comprising Dicksonia antarctica, Strelizia reginae, Cocos plumosa, Acorus 'Gold', Trachelospermum jasminoides and Hibiscus. The Dicksonia are numerous throughout the landscaping and are the plants that, more than others, convey the lush, tropical jungle theme.
In general, the planting is a combination of exotic and indigenous and Jackson said that large-leafed plant material was chosen to bring across the tropical theme to the fullest. There is little colour from flowering plants; instead colour was brought through by means of variegated plants and leaves of different shades of green. A row of tall pine trees existed on the site and these were retained, providing shade for the underplanting. Their height is also effective in terms of making a connection between the landscaping and the building. A further six trees, each five meters tall, were moved from a site across the road to Amazonas.
From the foyer area, one enters a small, grassed circle which Jackson says was designed as a resting space or picnic area for residents. It is grassed with All Seasons Evergreen and this slightly longer leaf adds to the lush feel of the gardens. Says jackson: "We tried to create pockets of usable space connected by walkways through the landscaping. These walkways create a sense of mystery:'

Along a side passage, moving to the swimming pool, plant material consists of Azalea mollis, Camelia japonica and Chlorophytum comosum. This pathway opens out onto another usable space and eventually, via a small bridge (of Rhodesian Teak railway sleepers) to the pool. On either side of the bridge are rock water features similar to the one at the main entrance but larger. They are again surrounded by the lush, jungle-type planting comprising Clivia miniata, Cyathea australis, Cycas revoluta, Carex 'Evergold', Ficus nitida, Philodendron selloum, Zantedeschia aethiopica, Nandina domestica and Mackaya bella.
In this space, a winding walkway travels to the upper levels of the building and from the top, a landing looks over the rock pool and planting below, creating an atrium effect. According to Andy De Wet, who designed and installed the water features, they were created to give a sense of tranquility as well as to provide the gentle sound of running water to mask some of the surrounding traffic noise. The feature complements the full evergreen garden and De Wet designed it to be highly visible from above as well as being pleasant to encounter as one strolls around the garden.
A Hunter irrigation system was installed, using a ring fed system supplied by an underground storage tank from a borehole.
IInika Landscaping faced considerable challenges from a logistical point of view. Being a site in a built-up area with ongoing construction around it, space was at a premium and presented problems during the delivery and storage of plants, lawn, compost and large rocks. Despite this, however, the overall effect achieves its goal and the planting and water features have succeeded in creating the appropriate environment. A quiet green space has been provided for residents. Isa


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