In May 1907 Theresa Lawrence (‘T.L.’) wrote, “During my absence, the grounds of the school were laid out and are very pleasing improvements in the appearance of our premises.”
Theresa Lawrence had been overseas and Katherine Margaret Earle (‘K.M.E.’) began the garden as a surprise.
Gwendolen Edwards wrote: “Although we have lost our personal contact with K.M.E., there yet remains a comforting feeling of her presence in and about the school which she loved, laboured for and thought about for so long. I think that nowhere do we feel her presence more than in the garden which she planned and wrought, developing it from bare koppie to its present delight. In childhood she lived with the beauty of the ancient gardens in the Oxford Colleges and in the exquisite city of Wells, so perhaps it was easy for her to see ahead the garden she created. The Roedean garden has a special and most individual appeal; it is not formal nor is it wild but it is just right.
Anne Lorentz (née Douglas)
6 May, 1930 – 11 November, 2010
In John Milton’s sublime epic, Paradise Lost, the Garden of Eden is described as a “happy rural seat”, in which “crispéd brooks” feed “flowers worthy of Paradise which . . . nature boon/Poured forth profuse on hill and dale and plain”. Only the arch-fiend, Satan himself, can fail to be overwhelmed by the wonders of Eden, with its “Flowers of all hue, and without thorn, the rose”, and Satan, after all, sees “Undelighted all delights”!
We, the members of staff and the pupils of Roedean, would have to be truly diabolical not to gaze with wonder and joy at the heritage gardens in which we are privileged to spend our working days, and we owe the ongoing splendour of these gardens’ ”trembling leaves”, “rich trees”, and lawns “damasked with flowers” to the creativity, tireless labour, imagination, and sheer devotion of the incomparable Anne Lorentz. The creation and maintenance of exquisite gardens can be regarded as a form of art, and Anne Lorentz was the Michelangelo of gardeners. For decades, Roedean benefited from her genius, and also had the pleasure of her company. The forthright, witty Anne was a superb raconteuse and a very erudite lady. When chatting to Anne Lorentz, especially in her last pain-racked year, I often thought of Alexander Woolcott’s comment after his final meeting with the legendary actress, Mrs Patrick Campbell (the original Eliza in Shaw’s Pygmalion): “How bright in the afternoon sunshine was the banner that flew ever in her heart.“
We shall miss Anne more than it is possible to express, but, whenever we look at the rose named for her, or page through the beautiful books on flowers, gardening, and celebrated gardens that she generously donated to Roedean, or simply cast our eyes upon our surroundings, we shall remember her. We at Roedean certainly believe that Anne should share an epitaph with Sir Christopher Wren: “Si Monumentum requiris, Circumspice.”
Anne has been a part of Roedean School for 73 years. During this time, she has been a pupil, a parent, chairman of the S.A.O.R.A Committee, ‘ .. and finally I’ve ended up as the gardener!’
‘ .. As a somewhat scruffy schoolgirl in the ‘40’s, I clearly remember being far more interested in watching Juicy tend the garden, than listening to our History teacher going on about the Battle of Waterloo! Particularly fascinating were her very short blue or green tunics, worn over very long knee-length blue or green bloomers! Little did I know that one day I would be tending the same gardens – without the bloomers!’
Anne nurtured the school’s gardens, for the last 35 years, building on the foundations laid by Katherine Margaret Earle and Gwendolen Edwards (“Juicy”). She created a magnificent garden of botanical interest, a garden which “intertwines” with Roedean’s long history. ‘But all credit goes to our wonderful team of men for their hard work and dedicated caring’ said Anne.
When Anne left school she wanted to nurse but was too young for the intake at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. Instead she joined the staff of Springbok Radio (then a brand new commercial service of the SABC), followed, in the early 1950s, by 2½ years in London working for the BBC’s European Service – broadcasting to 44 different countries.
Since about 1960, Anne was involved with the Johannesburg Garden Club, and its fund-raising for Johannesburg Child Welfare. In 1982 she took a design course in the UK, with well-known English landscape designer, John Brooks, and has subsequently been kept busy running her own garden-design business. During the 1990s, she was horticultural adviser, a script-writer, and presenter for the SABC TV3 programme “Gardens – Wild and Wonderful”.
Anne’s legacy is captured in Roedean’s bountiful beauty and each year, as the rose buds bloom, and the Jacaranda Tree sheds its colour, we will silently thank Anne for constructing an environment as magnificent as ours, and we will miss her steadfast passion.