Vergelegen, the 321-year-old Somerset West wine estate with 18 gardens, has unveiled plans for a 54-hectare arboretum

About 7500 trees will be planted over 10 years within a surrounding 3,5 km walkway. The arboretum will form a transition between the cultivated and natural landscapes with views of the Hottentots Holland and Helderberg Mountains.

Vergelegen’s Leslie Naidoo with a Quercus Robur.

Leslie Naidoo, Vergelegen’s Commercial and Risk Manager, says: ” After researching (among others) the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and the Yorkshire Arboretum, Vergelegen management approached landscape architects to create an arboretum with visitor access from the restaurants and wine tasting centre. This evolved into our current plan.”

Three 45-meter-wide triangles with a combined length of 2,5km form the core of the arboretum. Double row plantings of liquidambar, yellowwood and swamp cypress trees will line each vista intersected by four semi-circles of Dutch, Asian, English and French-origin trees to reflect the history of the estate, a provincial heritage site.

Treescapes will include Rosids (Cape Ash, White Stinkwood and Oaks), Asterids (Assegaai, Cape Holly and Rhododendrons), Magnolids (Tulip tree, Ginkgo and various Magnolia trees) and Conifers (Juniper, Deodara and Cypress).

The planting of the 1216-treed Rosid section began in 2019, following the installation of irrigation.

Scott Mpondo, has joined the Vergelegen gardening staff as Junior Horticulturist

Scott Mpondo, who studied for his National Diploma in Horticulture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, has joined the Vergelegen gardening staff as Junior Horticulturist, tasked with assisting the project.

The next stage is sourcing 1500 Asterid trees from local nurseries to plant.

Following South Africa’s largest privately funded alien vegetation clearing and rehabilitation project, abundant water fed by the Hottentots Holland catchment area was unleashed.
Naidoo says the intention is to base the design on the four principles of variety, intricacy, connection and quality.

Design principles

  • Variety: recesses and projections, differently-shaped and coloured trees, meadows and groves contrasting light and shaded walks.
  • Intricacy: a sense of sanctuary while unfolding scenes surprise and delight visitors.
  • Connection: gradual transitions between the various landscape elements achieve a harmonious whole.
  • Quality: an excellent, sustainable design that future generations will enjoy.

Says Vergelegen MD Wayne Coetzer. “The five magnificent Camphors standing sentry outside the homestead were declared national monuments in 1942 and the list of protected Champion Trees of South Africa includes them.

“The arboretum’s collection of trees and plants will create a living laboratory for conservation, research, and education on international tree and plant biodiversity within a peaceful oasis.”

Estate entry times

Vergelegen is open from 08h30-17h00 Monday – Sunday (last entry is at 16h00).