Spring and Summer in South Africa is the ultimate time to hit the road in search of gorgeous gardens. From the natural splendour of the Namaqualand wild flowers, to perfectly manicured wine estates, and the national treasures of botanical gardens in between.
Our wine routes and valleys play host to a vast variety of gardens that can be experienced in many different ways. So, put on your comfy shoes, pack your snacks, sun-hat and camera and pick and choose from the list below.
View Truly Magnificent Wine Estate Gardens:
Home to some of South Africa’s most significant trees and historic grounds stretching over 300 years, Vergelegen is a garden destination. A nifty map will orientate you along the 18 unique garden areas boasting with abundance right through the year. An English Oak tree that is over 300 years old and believed to be the oldest living oak tree in Africa is positioned on their grounds, as well as five camphor trees planted in 1700 that have been declared National Monuments.
Rustenberg is home to two famous gardens: Schoongezicht and Rustenberg. Visitors are welcome to wander through Schoongezicht any time during the year to enjoy this English-style garden with a Chartres-style labyrinth, a lily pond with fish and a romantic pergola with dainty climbers. The Rustenberg garden though, is set on private property, but is opened to the public once a year during their open days. It’s worth the wait though – the garden has huge trees and unique plants that are landscaped amongst Cape Dutch architecture and several themed garden rooms.
The famous garden at Babylonstoren is artistically structured into 15 clusters, stretching across eight acres of well-kept land. Walk through a myriad of isles, hidden alleys and pathways through orchards, vegetable gardens, herb patches, climbing roses and a huge variety of indigenous plants, with natural waterways snaking in between. Don’t miss the impressive seasonal showcasing of clivias – usually between August and November. End off at one of their farm-to-table eateries to will taste fresh, seasonal produce from the garden.
Old Mac Daddy, Elgin Valley Wine Route
Surely the quirkiest of the lot, Old Mac Daddy is a glamping favourite, even for the room service-lovers amongst us. With their luxurious airstream trailers uniquely decorated by Cape Town designers, this is not only a close-to-nature getaway, but also a unique bucket list type experience.
Sleeps: Airstream trailers sleep 2-4, Luxury tented camps sleep 2 – 6 people.
Amenities: Mini bar, coffee Station, air-conditioning & heating unit, bathroom with shower, towels, breakfast included
Activities: Lakeside beach, stand-up paddle boarding, tractor rides, fishing, archery, mountain paths, fat bikes, swimming pool, hiking, cycling, kayaking, designer kids play area.
Wine farms close by: South Hill Wines, Highlands Road Wines, Charles Fox MCC.
Van Loveren, Robertson
The trees have many stories to tell at Van Loveren. Since 1939 the owners have been planting trees to commemorate special occasions – from political events to births and graduation ceremonies. The New Calidonean Pine tree was planted in May 1945 when Germany surrendered, and a Natal Mahogany was planted after FW de Klerk’s speech in February 1992. The tree tour can be done self-guided with a numbered brochure, or along with a guided group. The gardens surrounding the trees are also worth the visit, especially when it’s time for roses to bloom.
La Motte, Franschhoek
La Motte is well known for their heritage-rich offering that guest can experience when visiting the estate – and their gardens are no different. Indigenous plants are showcased with captivating sculptures made by South African artists acting as features in between. The main attraction though is their impressive private rose garden, and during Franschhoek Open Gardens each year, it is open for public viewing. Expect a traditional rose garden with 19 types of roses, a classic fountain and pathways that are surrounded by traditional fruit trees.
Stylish farm-life is the essence of Boschendal, so don’t be surprised if a free-range chicken joins you on your garden walk. Start by strolling through their large vegetable garden positioned right in front of the fabulous Die Werf restaurant, before heading to their rose garden, lemon trees, stretched-out lawns and tree lane.
Lourensford is set in a magnificent location, stretching across 4000 hectares under the slopes of the Helderberg mountains. The historic farm was established in 1709 and has a history of orchards and Proteas. Today, you can wander the tranquil gardens consisting of fynbos, formal floral areas, trees, ponds and leafy secluded spots with benches to relax and enjoy a glass of wine or produce from their weekend food market.
At Spier, there is a garden experience for every interest. Large open lawns with big trees and ponds welcome families to run around and relax, whilst the impressive Die Werf kitchen garden is an organic vegetable, herb and fruit tree haven. The magical hidden gem, is the self-guided River Walk at the back of the estate, featuring a lush trail of indigenous plants linked with pathways and bridges.
Delaire Graff, Stellenbosch
Delaire Graff is a landscape painter’s dream. The estate has some of the best views in the winelands, and they’ve made the most of it. Their floral-centred garden has over 350 types of indigenous plants that have been carefully arranged in harmony with a series of Dylan Lewis sculptures and impressive water features. Fresh organic produce is provided to the restaurant kitchens directly from the gardens and greenhouses.
Leeu Estates, Franschhoek
Every visit to Leeu Estates is a luxurious affair – even their gardens are five star. The shrubberies and greenery are meticulously manicured, with the landscaped gardens feature vineyards, fynbos and indigenous plants in between. What makes these gardens unique though, is that they are adorned by impressive South African art pieces. The collection has been personally curated by the owner himself and includes work by Angus Taylor, Deborah Bell, Dylan Lewis and Otto du Plessis.
Go on Informative Guided Garden Tours:
Leeu Estates Art and Garden Tour, Franschhoek
Join a knowledgeable guide on a walk through the beautiful gardens of this remarkable property at Leeu Estates. The highlight of the tour is the life-sizes bronze sculptures by an array of well-known artists. End the experience with a traditional afternoon tea with scones and jam.
Letsatsi Succulent Route, Namaqua West Coast
Book a guided walk with an expert to view to learn more about the immense variety of succulents found in Letsati Lodge’s own backyard. If the weather and seasons play along, you might just see bursts of colours coming from the beautiful flowers too.
Maskam Guest Farm Flower Route, Namaqua West
During August and September you can book one of two guided walks to view the wild flowers around Maskam Guest Farm: either 5.6 or slightly further 7.8km. The trail needs to be done in full sunshine when all the flowers are open. A 4×4 flower route is also available for the more adventurous at heart.
Babylonstoren Garden Tour, Paarl
Almost every day, Babylonstoren hosts a multi-sensory garden tour that is open to the public. It commences at 10:00 in front of the Farm Shop with one of their own gardeners guiding you to taste, smell and touch a variety of plants. If you’re a hotel guest, you’ll have the privilege of joining their Special Collections Tour which will take you to the succulent collection, cycads and Healing Garden.
Old Nectar Garden Tour, Stellenbosch
Old Nectar is a historic farm just outside Stellenbosch whose manor house and villas are currently being used as boutique accommodation. The gardens carry heritage-listed-status and the initial owner, Una van der Spuy, has published a number of successful gardening books. Although you can go on self-guided walks with a tree map, a guided two hour-tour (with tea and fruitcake) is the best way to experience this impressive space.
La Motte Estate Walks, Franschhoek
Choose between three different guided walks to experience different aspects of La Motte. Either go on a guided Sculpture Walk visiting eleven sculptures, including the famous Wine Bearer by Toby Megaw, or on Wednesday mornings you can book a Historic Walk visiting the heritage sites on the property, including the private rose garden. Alternatively, you can book a guided hiking trail into the mountains to appreciate the wild mountain fynbos.
Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden Tour, Stellenbosch
For an inspiring and introspective experience, view more than 60 Dylan Lewis sculptures, sited along 4 kilometers of pathway with the Stellenbosch mountains as backdrop. With central themes igniting emotions, you are transported to another world whilst you stroll through the predominantly fynbos gardens. You can go on a self-guided tour with a map, or book a guided experience for more information on the art.