South Africans are celebrating Garden Day this Sunday (17 October) – revelling in nature and all its colour and beauty.
If you’re keen to get inspiration for your own garden, or simply want to stroll and relax among beautiful blooms and stately trees, then an outing to Vergelegen wine estate in Somerset West will delight your senses.
This renowned 321-year-old property has 18 extensive gardens, a vast arboretum for long walks, and some of the most historic trees in South Africa. It’s just been awarded two accolades in the 2022 Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards – architecture and landscape, and sustainable wine tourism practice.
Vergelegen chief horticulturist Richard Arm says spring highlights include huge clusters of fragrant purple wisteria, and late-flowering pink and red camellias in Africa’s only International Camellia Garden of Excellence.
“There are magnificent old camellia shrubs at the bottom of the Great Lawn and near the banks of the Lourens River, and we’ll incorporate their blooms in the flower garland crowns we’re preparing for visitors.
“Guests can also enjoy a mix of colourful annuals in the ancient Octagonal Garden, and our summer perennials are starting to pop. Soon our magnificent roses and agapanthus will be in bloom.”
Vergelegen’s famous trees include five enormous camphor trees in front of the homestead, which were proclaimed national monuments in 1942. A hollow old English oak, about 300 years old, is believed to be the oldest living oak in Africa. Cross the Lourens River on the swing bridge and stroll on to view a majestic yellowwood estimated to be 150-400 years old.
Food and wine
Guests who’ve built up a thirst and appetite from exploring the gardens will find plenty to choose from. The popular family restaurant, Stables, is open daily. The new pop-up River Café on the banks of the Lourens River offers elegant yet relaxed lunches Wednesday to Sunday, and cheeseboard platters have been introduced at the wine tasting centre.
Says MD Wayne Coetzer, “Our horticultural team has been hard at work to ensure that the gardens look absolutely magnificent. Vergelegen was bought in 1987 with the specific purpose of restoring it as a national treasure for all South Africans to enjoy, so it’s a perfect destination for Garden Day.”
To visit Vergelegen: Monday-Sunday 08:30 – 17h00 (last entry 16h00). Entrance R10/adults, R5/pensioners and scholars. Find out more on www.vergelegen.co.za.
Stables: See the menu here, call 021-847 2156, or email email@example.com. Reservations can be made via Dineplan.