Weekend bucket list: Plan a garden day at Vergelegen Wine Estate
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South Africans are celebrating Garden Day this Sunday, October 11.
If you do not have anything planned, why not spend at Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West.
The famed 320-year-old property was named a Provincial Heritage Site last year, boasting a beautifully restored homestead surrounded by 18 extensive gardens, with some of the oldest recorded trees in the country.
MD Wayne Coetzer said the horticultural team has been hard at work to ensure that the 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," he said.
Coetzer suggests 10 must-see horticultural highlights:
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.
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.
A hollow old English oak, about 300 years old, is believed to be the oldest living oak in Africa.
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 majestic yellowwood estimated to be 150-400 years old.
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 Oaktree. Its heritage goes back to King Alfred's mediaeval oaks at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
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.
Stroll in a lush expanse of sun-dappled camphor trees, seeded from the original giant camphor planted three centuries ago by Willem Adriaan van der Stel.
A vast expanse of bright African daisies near the Stables Restaurant will provide a great memento of your visit.
Good food and wine
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.
The Rose Garden Gazebo will feature some sumptuous food and the estate have introduced a charcuterie and wine pairing at the Wine Tasting Centre.
Opened daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Entry from R10. Visit www.vergelegen.co.za