We were very lucky to be able to visit the Stellenberg garden in the fancy Kenilworth neighbourhood. This private garden is only to be visited by appointment, but when we were in Cape Town they had their annual open weekend. We were not disappointed, this garden is a real delight. Stellenberg is not only a garden, but also one of the Cape’s oldest Historic houses. Miraculously this house was almost untouched since it was built in the 1740’s. Once a big estate it’s now surrounded by a residential area, and from the street you can hardly imagine the beauty that lies beyond the walls. The current family lives here since 1953 and it was only in 1987 they started the creation of the gardens.
We start our journey in the quite astonishing small white garden. Seldom I have seen such an abundance of blooming flowers in one border. I wonder how the border looks like the rest of the year, as this display can’t keep up a whole season…or does it ? As the name already suggests the color palet is all kinds of white and cream colours. When we continue through a small gate we go up a few steps where four hedged squares contain all white roses. The view from here is beautiful with Table Mountain in the background and the stately Manor in between.
We now arrive at a small vegetable garden, which could come straight from the South of France. A simple central water feature brings life in the garden and the vegetables are nicely sown in rows in the four beds. Through a shady forest path you arrive in the herb garden with it’s sharp topiary and hedged Saint Andrew’s cross in contrast with the free wild herbs in the beds.
We now cross the central lawn area. Here you can find a beautiful work from Michael Speller, called Balance. The rock representing South Africa and the three figures representing the people of the country. Although looking in different directions they keep the country in balance. On the other side of the lawn we arrive in a whole new atmosphere. Here a tropical atmosphere takes over and small paths guide you through a lush green jungle like zone. This brings you almost seamlessly to the Stream garden. This part of the garden is a tranquil zone, where along a small stream you can contemplate in between a wide array of beautiful ferns. It was lovely to sit next to the water and just get engulfed by a wave of all shades of green.
Through the garden of reflection, with its toned down water features and the citrus lime walk we arrive in another stunning part of the garden. What used to be the tennis court was transformed by famous interior- and garden designer David Hicks into a beautiful walled garden. At the left of the main pathway the colours are monochromatic and some lovely topiary hedges bring a more geometrical style. On the right hand sight, colours are more splashing and the planting is more wild. It’s almost a ying and yang in garden version. The walls are covered in plants with a strong scent like roses and jasmine. In the right hand wall there is a little hidden seat where you are surrounded by the Jasmine, which is a quite lovely sensation. A few steps up is the Pool garden with its nice flowering shrubs. The bright blue of the pool clashes a bit with the surrounding plants. A more natural swimming pond would be more suitable for this part of the garden.
This garden is truly amazing. On a relatively small scale you can admire so many atmospheres and styles and still the whole manages to be a unity. Nothing feels squashed and every part of the garden manages to shine. I can really recommend to visit Stellenberg if you have the chance. Make an appointment or look out for the annual open days. A nice extra is the garden nursery, where you can buy a lot of plants you have seen in the garden.
Stellenberg Garden : 30 Oak Avenue, Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa