To explore a garden before, or after, tasting the wine grown on the farm is one of the highlights of these 8 glorious gardens on wine estates…
The gardens at Babylonstoren are extensive. Modelled on the former Company Gardens of the Cape (the gardens that fed and watered ships using Cape Town as a halfway station) their name plays on the imagery of the mystical gardens of Babylon (although you don’t need much of an imagination – these gardens have inspired and captivated almost everyone who visits them).
Eight acres of formal garden with over 300 varieties of edible plants, grown as organically as possible, provide vegetables, fruit and salads for the wine estate’s two restaurants. The gardens also present hours of meandering opportunity; delights for even the seasoned food gardener. To avoid disappointment, book the garden tour way in advance!
Find them: between Franschhoek and Paarl, 45 minutes’ from Cape Town
DELAIRE GRAFF ESTATE
The gardens at Delaire Graff Estate are incredible – over 350 indigenous plants, a host of other non-invasive imported species, and beautiful sculptures and art lie alongside one another, in amongst water features, little pools and a biodynamic garden growing organic produce for the estate’s kitchens all year round.
The gardens were landscaped by Keith Kirsten, hence the emphasis on African flora, whilst the artists feature Dylan Lewis’ cheetahs in solid bronze, work by Deborah Bell, Anton Smit and Lionel Smit. Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl is on display in the entrance to the estate’s main building. The restaurant featured in Food Planet TV’s 25 Most Amazing Restaurants in the World.
Find them: on Helshoogte Pass
This 91 hectare farm is, in essence, one giant garden. Whilst 55 hectares are under vine, producing the estate’s wines, everything else is left as it should be, a feast of renosterbos, lakes, wild flower meadows and a nursery. The estate gardens on a grand scale with broad sweeps of colour; all of the plants grown in the estate’s nursery.
There are terraced gardens, wine-cellar beds swathed in colour, 400-metre mixed borders, wisteria that trails on the edges of vineyards, and a series of seven dams. The owner, Hylton Appelbaum, describes De Morgenzon as a ‘romantic garden where nature is allowed expression’.
Find them: Stellenkloof Road, Stellenbosch
The veld food garden at Solms-Delta provides a feast of heritage food for the Fyndraai restaurant on the estate – uncommon dishes with equally mouthwatering ingredients: lemon and wild rosemary chutney, parsley purée, spekboom and fynbos greens. To support the restaurant is a wonderful garden where once a rubbish dump stood.
Many of the vegetables and plants are heirloom vegetables for which the gardeners have ridden the country. Their aim: to restore to the area what once grew here naturally, like kei apples from the Eastern Cape, and agurkies or horned cucumbers.
Not only culinary plants make the garden fascinating, but fat-tailed sheep and Nguni cattle. But Dik Delta isn’t there only for ingredients. Knowledge of these plants is dying. By growing them people are reminded that not everything one eats comes from your local supermarket. Book a tour.
Find them: at Solms-Delta Wine Estate, Groot Drakenstein
La Motte is one of three wine estates owned by the Ruperts, and big on sustainability and conservation. The farm offers an Organic Walk that will take you through vineyards, their fynbos nursery and the gardens, before ending with a sampling of their organically grown Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc. But it is the gardens, in particular, that are worthy of a visit, making the estate a firm favourite in the annual Franschhoek Open Gardens.
La Motte has a protea garden, landscaped gardens, a nursery full of micro greens and orchids (they grow flowers here too), and the biodynamic vegetable garden and herb gardens provide produce for the wine estate’s restaurant. You may even find the vegetables, herbs or fruit, sometimes, in the farm shop where it is sold as seasonal produce.
Find them: in the Franschhoek Valley
Rustenberg has two gardens (once you’ve navigated the gorgeous oak lined drive) – Schoongezicht, and a private Rustenberg manor house garden. Schoongezicht (alongside the homestead of the same name) is open to the public, its beds full of English-style plants and flowers, trimmed hedges, and terracotta pots perched atop low walls.
It has a pergola dripping with wisteria and grapevines; what was once a tennis court is now an eleven circuit Chartres-style labyrinth; the swimming pool is a huge lily pond; and all of this is interspersed with pathways, the garden beds alive with roses, floxgloves, salvias, day lilies, agapanthus and anemones.
Then the private garden, closer to the manor house, is a sea of oaks, roses, camellias and magnollias. Visit Schoongezicht daily between 9.30 and 4.30, on Saturdays until 2pm, or as part of the Stellenbosch Horticultural Society Open Gardens.
Find them: just outside Stellenbosch
What used to be Spier’s old rose garden has been revamped into a modern kitchen garden called The Werf Garden. It is relatively new, as recently planted as November 2014, but it is already a bountiful space filled with herbs, fruit trees and vegetables, all grown organically according to biodynamic principles.
There essentially as a food source for Eight, the restaurant, and the Spier Hotel, the garden is a delightful collection of raised beds and vertical trellises for runner beans, peas and other climbing vegetables. Combine the Werf Garden with the exhibition space in the Jonkershuis next door (former home of Moyo restaurant), the protea garden (take a segway tour) and a picnic under an oak tree.
Find them: Annandale Road, just outside Stellenbosch
Vergelegen’s gardens are extensive, have won numerous awards and are mesmerising as they are beautiful. Their 17 formal gardens are a wonderful space in which to wander, and a utopia for gardeners. Nominated as a serial World Heritage Site, Vergelegen has been here since Simon van der Stel’s era, which is why the estate drips with historical significance.
The Camellia garden is an International Camellia Garden of Excellence with about 550 cultivars from across the world, the huge yellowwoods and oaks, historical camphor trees and white mulberry (that dates back to 1700) grand enough to leave one speechless. The walled octagonal garden is a delight, the rose garden near the Great Lawn a heady experience, and the wetlands garden a sanctuary. Get lost for hours.
Find them: in Somerset West