Vergelegen wine estate in Somerset West boasts 18 magnificent gardens, ranging from an indigenous agapanthus garden with 14000 plants, to the only International Camellia Garden of Excellence in Africa.

Tending to this magnificent estate, which includes numerous historic trees,  requires plenty of expertise and willing hands – so the estate is delighted to have brought three junior horticulturists on board. The green-fingered trio comprises Scott Mapondo, Tristan Kruger and Courtney Abbott. 

Scott, 33, studied for his National Diploma in Horticulture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT),  and has built up experience in retail, landscaping, and prior work at a wine estate. His favourite plant is Salvia Leucanthia.

He’s now responsible for daily garden checks and assisting with Vergelegen’s  new 54-hectare arboretum.  This  vast botanical garden devoted to trees is being  developed in a phased approach over 10 years. Some 7500 trees will be planted to create a beautiful, peaceful green sanctuary.

Tristan, 22 years old, also holds a National Diploma in Horticulture from CPUT. Says Tristan, “I enjoy working with the various traditional ornamental plants in the historic Octagonal Garden where I aspire for people to come and feel as if they have been transported to an old-fashioned garden in the middle of England. Additionally, my passion lies in working with and growing various Fynbos species and particularly members of the family Iridaceae, where my aim is to bring the mountain and nature reserve down to the people.”

Courtney Abbott, aged 29, worked as a horse-riding instructor and spent years in television broadcasting before an interest in vegetable gardening led her to study for a National Diploma in Horticulture at CPUT. “I therefore am quite new to the world of horticulture and all my practical experience has been gained here at Vergelegen over the last year, first as an in-service student in 2020, and in 2021 as a junior horticulturalist,” she says.

New horticultural projects are constantly introduced at Vergelegen, and Courtney considers herself to be very lucky to be involved in these, as they provide interesting challenges and opportunities to learn. 

“My favourite thing about working at Vergelegen, however, is being able to work at an estate of such grandeur that boasts such botanical diversity. I have encountered and learnt about plants that I’m not sure I would get the opportunity to work with in many other places, from the unique Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos, to old climbing Peace roses that are no longer sold. The sense of history is very real when one steps through the gates.” 

Wayne Coetzer, MD of Vergelegen, says he is delighted to welcome the new members to the hard-working horticultural team. “Vergelegen is a national treasure, and its gardens are a key component of its attractions.  We want this beautiful 321-year-old estate to not only be a must-see destination for our guests, but also to be a place of learning for the next generation of gardeners. There’s no better place for  budding horticulturists to grow their skills than in these magnificent surroundings.” 

Stables family restaurant at Vergelegen reopened on Wednesday 13 July with  a reduced menu and take-aways.  Camphors opens on Thursday 15 July.  This is an ideal opportunity to explore the gardens and then enjoy a light snack or meal.

Estate entry times

Vergelegen is currently open from 08h30-17h00 Monday – Sunday (last entry is at 16h00). Please check the websitevergelegen.co.za for opening hours during the lockdown.

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