Beautifully located in the Jonkershoek Valley, near Stellenbosch, the Old Nectar Garden is the work of Una van der Spuy (°1912 – 2012). When Una and her husband General Kenneth van des Spuy bought this 18th century property in 1941 it was surrounded by nothing but a muddy and stony hillside. The old manor didn’t have any bathrooms, nor electricity. But soon Una and Kenneth upscaled the premises. In the meanwhile WW II was in full swing and some Italian war prisoners were brought to the Old Nectar.
Although they tried to boycot her plans in the beginning, the war prisoners became a great help to achieve her garden goals. Una didn’t have any previous gardening experience and was more interested in International finance and politics. But soon se managed to start a rose nursery. At the same time the Italian war prisoners terraced the surrounding gardens, pergola, pond and the current rose garden. Almost every tree in the garden was planted by her and her team. Una, who died at the age of 100, wrote a total of 15 gardening books and left a beautiful garden that will always be a beautiful legacy.
First thing you see when you enter the premises is the beautiful driveway that brings you towards the old manor. The whole garden is planted with an enormous variety of trees (Redwood, Elm, Copper Beech, Chorisia, Lombardy poplar, Liquidambar, Magnolia, Cape chestnut, Maple, Flowering peach, Flowering plum, Camellia and Prunus trees). After a warm welcome and a short explanation of the garden you descend from the main terrace towards the lillypond and the round rose garden. This beautiful rose garden contains some lovely old style hybrids and is just stunning with the mountains and Manor House hoovering above. Further down you can admire the large pergola garden, all planted with different kinds of climbing roses, jasmine and other climbers. At the other side of the Pergola there is a new part, where the van des Spuy family continues the work of Una, and planted some new borders and trees.
When you walk back up in a more shady part of the garden you encounter a large variety of azalea and Japanese maple trees. Here you will also find a bench made out of old Victorian tiles. When we arrive back at the manor, also surrounded with a beautiful shaded garden, you can go up to the more recent indigenous garden. Winding paths up the hill will show you the typical and rare Cape flora. When you are almost back at the manor you can see a nice colourful waterfall garden. Now you can take a rest with some homemade ice tea and cake at the side terrace and let it all sink in 🙂
Visiting Old Nectar is a very nice relaxing experience. The backdrop of the mountains is really stunning and the old Manor House sits in the middle of all this beauty as the cherry on the cake. If you want to enjoy this place for a longer time, you can rent the manor or one of the other buildings in the garden for a lovely stay.