Tag Archives: champion trees

Exploring the Estate of Vergelegen in Somerset West (2017-07-01) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 MAY 2018

A visit to Somerset West’s historic Vergelegen estate is always a treat, thanks to its selection of stunning restaurants, the elegant wine tasting venue, the beautiful (and functional) gardens, its rolling lawns and tree rich grounds, the fascinating history on show in the preserved manor house and library, and of course, the 300 year old Camphor and other ‘Champion’ trees dotted about the estate.

I have of course written about Vergelegen and its long history before, but it is worth keeping in mind that this wine producing estate (now owned and maintained through the deep pockets of Anglo American) was founded all the way back in 1700 – and indeed a large part of the farm’s original grounds served as the base for the eventual 1822 founding of Somerset West itself.

In other words, Vergelegen is very much integral to the story of the Helderberg region.

Surprisingly, the estate is quite child friendly these days, with a great play area and of course the large open lawns all making for a very welcome kid distraction for those times when you just want to sit back with a glass of wine (or warm cup of coffee) in hand, take in a deep breathe of crisp outdoor air, and enjoy the spectacular landscape views on offer.

One such opportunity arose just before the holidays last year, when we met up with Miguel, Retha, and her folks for a cup of coffee and a stroll around the estate – something my two little girls very much enjoyed once I told them about the bridge that needed crossing and the magical tree cave that needed finding on the other side.

They were rather pleased then when this turned out to be entirely true for a change.

Vergelegen’s well maintained grounds are always such a pleasure to explore, and indeed, whether you are interested in wine, art, fine landscapes, or even historic buildings, there is pretty much always something for everyone at this very enchanting estate.

Related Link: Vergelegen Wine Estate | Wikipedia | Somerset West

Things to See in South Africa: The Arderne Gardens in Cape Town Travel Attractions 10 FEB 2016

If you are in Cape Town and want an incredible collection of indigenous trees, go to the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. However, if you are looking for something a little more exotic, then the stunning Arderne Gardens is certainly not going to disappoint!

arderne gardens with its champion trees in claremont, cape town, south africa 1

Arderne Gardens is a public park and arboretum in Claremont, Cape Town, located in the Western Cape of South Africa. It was established by in 1845 by Ralph Henry Arderne, a timber merchant originally from Cheshire, England. In 1979, the park was named a South African Provincial Heritage Site, and is currently managed by City Parks of the City of Cape Town and the non-profit organisation Friends of the Arderne Gardens.

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Weighing in at 4.5 hectares large, Arderne Gardens contain one of the richest collections of exotic trees and shrubs in South Africa, with more than 300 different species of trees (from literally all over the world) represented. In addition to its Japanese Garden and duck and fish ponds, it also features six Champion Trees, namely the massive Morton Bay Fig (one of the largest trees in South Africa), a Cork Oak, an Aleppo Pine (possibly the largest in the world), the Norfolk Island Pine, a Turkish Oak, and a Queensland Kauri.

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In terms of history, the park forms part of the original Stellenberg estate, which was acquired by Ralph Henry Arderne (1802-1885) in 1845. He named it The Hill, and began to collect trees, shrubs and perennials from around the world. His elder son, Henry Matthew Arderne (1834-1914), was equally enthusiastic as a collector of plants and together the Ardernes had intended to create a garden containing the representatives of all the flora of the world, sourcing many of their trees and shrubs from Australia and New Zealand via trading them for local plants with passing ships.

The Hill was sold in 1914, and subsequently subdivided, with a portion of 4,5 hectares being registered in favour of the Council of the City of Cape Town in July 1928. It was this section that became known as Arderne Gardens in 1961.

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The beautiful gardens with its ponds, lawns and shady nooks makes it a popular city retreat for Capetonians, and thus well worth visiting if you want to see something slightly different from the local flora that nearby Kirstenbosch has on offer!

arderne gardens with its champion trees in claremont, cape town, south africa 5

arderne gardens with its champion trees in claremont, cape town, south africa 6

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arderne gardens with its champion trees in claremont, cape town, south africa 8

arderne gardens with its champion trees in claremont, cape town, south africa 9

arderne gardens with its champion trees in claremont, cape town, south africa 10

(Select photos courtesy of Marie Frei at the Friends of the Arderne Gardens)

Related Link: Arderne Gardens | Friends of Arderne Gardens