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Bloom day for Africa’s only Camellia Garden

Some of the most beautiful and rare specimens in the Camellia Garden include, Laurian Brown from South Africa, Tama Electra from Japan, Francie L and Anticipation from New Zealand and Grace Albritton, Tiffany and Lasca Beauty from the USA. Picture: Supplied

Some of the most beautiful and rare specimens in the Camellia Garden include, Laurian Brown from South Africa, Tama Electra from Japan, Francie L and Anticipation from New Zealand and Grace Albritton, Tiffany and Lasca Beauty from the USA. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 22, 2022

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Vergelegen wine estate, a 322-year-old provincial heritage site in Somerset West, is home to one of only 39 Camellia Gardens of Excellence in the world.

Vergelegen’s camellia garden, and Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, are the only two camellia gardens in the Southern Hemisphere that enjoy this recognition.

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According to a statement in Life is a Garden, Camellias have dense and glossy evergreen foliage, which is considered attractive, set from its beautiful colours.

Furthermore, stating that the flower emigrates from England, where the first camellia flower arrived in 1794. Camellias were first planted at Vergelegen in the 1920s by owner Lady Florence Phillips.

Vergelegen was then later named an International Camellia Garden of Excellence in 2010 by the International Camellia Society, a non-profit organisation founded in 1962. The estate’s inclusion on the list was renewed in 2020 for another 10 years.

Camellia Vista, Vergelegeen Picture: Supplied

“Winter is the prime time to view these beautiful blooms against their striking green foliage,” said Vergelegen horticulturist Richard Arm.

“We have over 1000 camellia bushes at the estate, comprising about 550 cultivars, from as far afield as France, Japan, America and South Africa.”

Vergelegen’s camellia collection includes many beautiful blooms Picture: Supplied

“The Camellia Gardens should be a magnificent sight until early spring. The shrubs can be viewed in three areas: at the bottom of the Great Lawn in front of the homestead, near the estate’s Café Fleur restaurant, and along a meandering path beside the Lourens River and through the yellowwood forest,” said Arm.

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Vergelegen’s exquisite gardens cover 10 hectares within a cultural heritage area spanning 60 hectares. In addition, a 54-hectare arboretum is in development, with plans to plant about 7500 trees over ten years.

Visitors can stroll through the camellia gardens at their own pace or book the daily garden and heritage walking tour. This includes the camellias and other plantings, significant trees, the restored homestead, and the historic library.

The tour costs R50 per person and departs from the wine tasting centre at Vergelegen at 09h30. The duration is approximately one hour, maximum 20 people.

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