Inside the Ruiru home garden of many colours


Nyambura Magochi’s garden as pictured on July 17, 2023. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

When we drive into Daykio Bustani Estate in Ruiru, construction works are ongoing as evidenced by the sharp noise from the welding machines.

At the heart of this developing estate lies a garden of many colours. If there is one thing that stands out in Nyambura Magochi’s garden is that it has a lot of flowers with different colours, not to mention the lush green her well-mowed lawn exudes.

Outside her compound, in the area surrounding her home, she has grown the travellers’ palm trees, the bishop trees, and the Japanese cherries.


Nyambura Magochi’s garden as pictured on July 17, 2023. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

For her car parking area, Ms Nyambura has built a pergola. In this modern era, you would expect to find a glass or wooden-roofed pergola.

However, Nyambura’s pergola is covered by thunbergias, which produce beautiful yellow flowers during the blooming season.

In her home in Ruiru, Nyambura has transformed her quarter-acre piece of land into an elegant garden with her front yard manifesting a Coast-like vibe with the fully grown palm trees all lined up in a straight line. On the barks of her palm trees, she has potted orchids.

“I felt that the palm trees were plain so I decided to grow the orchids on the barks. When they flower they are very beautiful and complement the palm trees,” she says.

Ms Nyambura is building her rock garden at the edge of her front yard.

“I want it to be a centrepiece, a different place. This is where I try out different plants with colours,” she says.

The rock garden has higher plants at the farthest end near the compound fence and smaller plants growing nearer.

“I wanted plants that would go a little higher from the fence then a little shorter further from the fence. It is like steps. I did not want something flat.”

Her rock garden provides a home to beautiful pink roses, geraniums, birds of paradise flowers and purple jasmine flowers.


Nyambura Magochi’s organic vegetable garden as pictured on July 17, 2023. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

“At night it smells nice here,” adds the 45-year-old.

Her backyard not only hosts a kennel for her two dogs but also her organic vegetable garden which houses among other things, traditional greens like spinach, Chinese cabbages, coriander (dhania), spring onions, fruit trees such as the pixies, mango trees and oranges.

“To save on water and get more space for growing my vegetables I have embraced vertical gardens for growing my dhania and greens. I never buy my vegetables as I always get them here,” Ms Nyambura tells BDLife.

To keep off pests, she has planted marigold flowers in her vegetable garden. Marigold produces toxic chemicals that kill pests.

In her backyard, she also has a trellis of petrea plants that cover it with purple and white flowers when they bloom. The trellis opens up into her outdoor cook-out area where she occasionally indulges in some, meat roasting (nyama choma) when her friends come to visit. The cook-out area is covered by very hardy Pemba grass.

Her love for messages is profound with her entrance having a wooden placard that reads, “Feel free to talk to these plants, they understand”.

She lives by the Rotaract’s four-way test, “Is it the truth? Is it fair? Will it build goodwill and better friends? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” She has a placard of this mantra hanging at the entrance to her house.

Everything in Ms Nyambura’s garden looks designed, everything is in its place. You would be forgiven for thinking that she hired landscapers and designers to create this gem for her. Ms Nyambura has built her garden all by herself over five years.


Nyambura Magochi’s backyard as pictured on July 17, 2023, in Ruiru, Kiambu County. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

Growing up in the village in the tea-growing areas, the love for plants was imbedded in her from a young age. “I realised that we grew up in very green and amazing places but we did not appreciate it.”

When she started working from home, Ms Nyambura experienced a surge of loneliness so she sought to create a space where she could walk around when taking a break and enjoy.

“I wanted a beautiful place I could walk after a heavy day,” says the human rights advocate.

“I did not seek help because I realised when you look for a landscaper, they bring their style to your place. I wanted my style. I wanted something that I have visualised, something that I have created in my mind and put out here.

My garden is the first place I come to when I wake up so I had to make sure that it is beautiful. I am not doing this for people but for myself. Many people beautify things for people to see and not for themselves,” says Ms Nyambura.

Her work has allowed her to travel the world. During her trips to China and the Netherlands, she experienced the beauty of nature. This also helped her out when establishing her garden.


Nyambura Magochi at her home in Ruiru, Kiambu County on July 17, 2023. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

“I am old-school. I decided that I want my garden to be rustic and have Kenyan products. I started with the backyard because my lounge faces the backyard. So I made sure that I have good well-maintained Arabica grass and plants that bloom. I wanted to be able to see all this beauty from my lounge and also my bedroom. I then worked on my kitchen garden and the farthest end of the garden,” says Ms Nyambura, noting that people tend to neglect their backyards.

When sourcing for plants she does not just buy them spontaneously but “I have to visualise what I am lacking in my garden and where the plant would do best,” says Ms Nyambura.

“By the time I am going to buy a plant, I already know where I am going to plant it.”


Nyambura Magochi’s rock garden as pictured on July 17, 2023. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

As we walk through her garden, I tell her that she has mastered the art of growing anthuriums. The edge of her backyard is surrounded by blossoming giant and miniature anthuriums.

“I have them to reduce the green brought by the fence and bring in some colour.”

Using sand as a top dressing helps to improve the drainage of your soil and to firm up your soil. Sand also helps to level the lawn surface.

Ms Nyambura has her lawn mowed twice a week.

“However, now that it is very cold, we only cut the grass once every two weeks as the grass is not growing,” she says. During the sunny season, the lawn is mowed once a week.

Ms Nyambura’s garden has 50 palm trees, 500 anthuriums, 300 peace lilies, 20 fruit trees and more than 300 orchids. The mother of five is not done as she hopes to get even more colourful flowers to add to her garden.

She notes that the plants are expensive. “I sought to have unique plants. I didn’t want plants that could be found in every garden. This meant that many of the plants would be expensive. Miniature anthuriums and palm trees are, particularly, very expensive. She has built the beauty space slowly and making some small sacrifices here and there — a labour of love.

“I would deny myself a dress, a drink and use some of the change to get the plants,” she says.

To maintain the garden, she uses a hose pipe to water the garden at least once a week during the cold season.

“During the sunny season, I water twice or thrice a week,” the avid gardener says.

Ms Nyambura relies on organic manure to give her healthy and flourishing garden the much-deserved nutrients.

“It is a mixture of goat, sheep, pig waste and ash,” she says.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.