As South Africans celebrated Garden Day today – Sunday 11 October – a stroll among the beautiful blooms and stately trees at Vergelegen wine estate offered much inspiration.
This renowned 320-year-old property was named a Provincial Heritage Site last year, a declaration that protects its historic core. This precinct includes a beautifully restored homestead surrounded by 18 extensive gardens, with some of the oldest recorded trees in the country.
Says MD Wayne Coetzer: “Our horticultural team has been hard at work to ensure that our gardens will inspire and delight this season. We’ve also updated our food and wine choices. Whether you want to linger over a gourmet meal for two, or prefer to relax with the children under a shady tree and enjoy sandwiches and wraps, we’ve got it all covered.”
Coetzer suggests 10 must-see horticultural highlights:
- Big Five: Marvel at five enormous camphor trees planted in front of the homestead by former Vergelegen owner Willem Adriaan van der Stel. These were proclaimed national monuments in 1942.
- Camellias: Vergelegen is home to Africa’s only International Camellia Garden of Excellence, one of 39 such gardens in the world. Enjoy the last of the winter-blooming pink, white and red varieties.
- Herb and vegetable garden: The octagonal shape, marked out in privet hedges, is an integral part of the history of Vergelegen.
- Stately oak: A hollow old English oak, about 300 years old, is believed to be the oldest living oak in Africa.
- River ramble: The Lourens River is the only South African river that’s a Protected Natural Environment and is an inspiring sight after the winter rains.
- Cross the river on the swing bridge and stroll on to view a majestic yellowwood estimated to be 150-400 years old.
- Royal route: Britain’s royal family have visited the estate since King George VI and his family paid an informal visit in 1947. Take the ‘queen’s gate’ (used by Queen Elizabeth II) set in the wall surrounding the homestead, and view the Royal Oak tree. Its heritage goes back to King Alfred’s mediaeval oaks at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
- Silk road: A huge, ancient specimen of white mulberry grows near the homestead. It’s a living reminder of van der Stel’s ambitions to start a silk industry in the Cape.
- Camphor forest: Stroll in a lush expanse of sun-dappled camphor trees, seeded from the original giant camphors planted three centuries ago by Willem Adriaan van der Stel.
- Instagram moment: A vast expanse of bright African daisies near the Stables Restaurant will provide a great memento of your visit.
Blooming good food and wine at Vergelegen
The estate houses a popular family restaurant, Stables, open daily. Camphors, frequently listed in the Eat Out top ten restaurant awards, offers elegant yet relaxed lunches Wednesday to Sunday, and Friday and Saturday dinners.
Guests can purchase sweet or savoury goodies, coffee and cooldrinks from the Rose Garden Gazebo, and enjoy these at outdoor tables. (Open Saturday to Sunday, weather permitting.)
“We’ve also introduced a charcuterie and wine pairing at the Wine Tasting Centre. Our Reserve Chardonnay, Reserve Shiraz and Reserve DNA are paired with three styles of cured meat for R120 pp,” says Coetzer.
“We’re also currently offering Vergelegen MMV Brut with strawberries and whipped cream. Enjoy this on the veranda of the Wine Tasting Centre, or as an aperitif at Stables, for R65 pp.”
“Our team looks forward to welcoming you. Vergelegen was bought in 1987 with the specific purpose of restoring it as a national treasure for all South Africans to enjoy…”
To visit Vergelegen: Monday-Sunday 09h00-17h00 (last entry 16h00). Entrance R10/adults, R5/pensioners and scholars – proceeds go to maintaining the gardens. Pensioners free Mondays. Wine tasting daily 09h00-16h30, 021 847 2122.
Find out more on www.vergelegen.co.za. Check out the Stables menu here, call 021-847 2156, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See the Camphors menu here, call 021 8472131 or email email@example.com. Reservations can be made via Dineplan here.