Cape Town - The Elgin Valley is one of the most beautiful places to visit at this time of the year. The roses are blooming along the wire fences of the apple orchards, and a host of art galleries, lodges and farm stalls offer great places for afternoon tea or a weekend retreat.
Over two weekends - November 3 and 4, and 10 and 11, from 10am to 5pm - 25 gardens will be opened to the public in the Elgin, Bot River and Vyeboom areas, to raise funds for a host of schools, churches, environmental organisations and charities.
For rose enthusiasts, a highlight of the weekend will be a visit to Fresh Woods, a rambling, romantic plant collector’s woodland garden with an extraordinary collection of heritage and species roses.
Fresh Woods’ fragrant spring-flowering heritage and species roses, many of which have cabbagy blooms, are the ancestors of our modern roses.
Long before the advent of hybrid tea roses and floribundas, it was these roses that lined the country lanes of Europe in the days of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Wordsworth.
Developed by Peter and Barbara Knox-Shaw, Fresh Woods also features Japanese maples, rhododendrons and
deutzias, as well as unusual perennials and bulbs in developing woodland.
Auldearn is a garden on an apple farm, established by Cape gardening authority Jenny Simpson. A knowledgeable horticulturalist with a passion for plants, Simpson has created a garden with panoramic views over the Kogelberg Biosphere.
Indigenous enthusiasts should head for the Keurbos Nursery Garden, developed by Ian and Jessie Walton.
This informal, developing garden is filled with mostly indigenous plants and shrubby perennials. Jessie Walton is a very knowledgeable indigenous specialist – and the owner of a famous fruit tree which bears different fruits on different branches.
A number of gardens will be opened for the first time this year, with the new listings including Agape, Houw Hoek Outspan, the magnificent rose gardens at Tall Trees, and Palmiet River, in Grabouw, which is one of the oldest Elgin gardens, designed with wide stepped terraces. - Weekend Argus
* A free map and downloadable pamphlet to the gardens is available from garden centres or online at www.elginopengardens.co.za.
Tel: 021 8440154/078 021 2101, or 083 458 3790.