Booking has opened for the annual Camellia Celebration Weekend at 317-year-old Vergelegen in Somerset West, which is the proud custodian of one of only 39 International Camellia Gardens of Excellence in the world, and the only camellia garden on the African continent to have received this accolade.
Tours of the camellias, famous for their prized pink, red and white blooms, will depart from the Stables restaurant at 9am and 2.30pm, on Saturday July 29 and Sunday July 30.
Each tour lasts one and a half hours and is limited to a maximum of 30 people, so booking is essential. The cost is R120 and includes the enty fee, tour and refreshments.
The early camellia variety of sasanquas appears in June, and by August, the japonicas are at their peak.
The tours will take visitors through the collection of about 1 000 camellia shrubs. The blooms can be viewed in three horticultural areas near the homestead, said estate horticulturist Richard Arm.
Vergelegen showcases a total of about 550 camellia cultivars, from as far afield as France, Japan and America, as well as home-grown South African varieties.
Some have been specially bred by camellia expert Jan van Bergen, who donated many of the shrubs, and can only be viewed on the estate, which stretches over 3 000 hectares.
Should the weekend tours be fully booked, visitors are still welcome to explore the camellia gardens and enjoy the estate’s many attractions.
In addition to 18 gardens, the estate’s 60 hectare cultural heritage area includes the meticulously restored homestead, which is furnished with beautiful antiques, porcelain and objets d’art, and houses an interpretive centre. There is also a library (a converted wine cellar built in 1816) and numerous historic sites.
To book for the tours, call 021 847 2156 or email firstname.lastname@example.org