Chris Randlehoff has last month been appointed as the new horticulturist at the gardens of the Vergelegen wine estate in Somerset West.
Mr Randlehoff will be at the steer of tending to the 322-year-old gardens at the local wine estate.
“I am in awe at the vast, limitless space. The formal design, framed by the surrounding mountains and lit by the sunrise in the mornings, is unbelievable,” he says of his new workplace.
He is responsible for maximising the floral features of this wine estate, which is a provincial heritage site.
According to a statement released by the wine estate, Mr Randlehoff’s duties will include overseeing plant propagation and the production of cut flowers, as well as the fruit and vegetable garden, which supplies the estate’s chefs and community outreach projects.
Mr Randlehoff holds a diploma in horticulture from Tshwane University of Technology and his passion for plants has enabled him to work both in KZN and the Western Cape, and overseas in France and the Comoros. For the past five years he was garden manager of Avondale gardens in Durbanville.
His work experience is varied and he has worked on a number of projects that include a rose nursery, commercial production of eucalyptus clones for a timber plantation and overseeing the flower section of five retail stores in Cape Town.
He was also a co-designer for the South African National Biodiversity Institute, at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea flower show in London.
“Some 250 boxes of cut flowers were flown overnight and we had five days to set it up. This was worth it though as the stand won a gold medal in both 2018 and 2019,” he recalls.
The team at Vergelegen is excited about this latest appointment. Wayne Coetzer, Vergelegen managing director says: “We are delighted to welcome Chris to our hard-working horticultural team, as we are intent on making Vergelegen a truly world-class destination for garden lovers.
“Chris’s plant and landscaping knowledge will complement the skills of our long-established horticulturist Richard Arm.”
“We chose to view the closure of the estate to visitors during some weeks of 2020, due to the strict Covid-19 lockdown, as an opportunity to reassess the gardens. We are now well positioned to build on the horticultural legacy of this remarkable estate, in keeping with its status as a showcase of the best of South African heritage, culture and sustainability.”
Vergelegen is self-sufficient for all its water needs and its magnificent gardens range from a formal rose garden to an International Camellia Garden of Excellence, one of only 39 in the world.
Mr Randlehoff, an accredited judge with the South African Orchid Council, of which he is the Western Cape regional chairman, particularly loves the historic Octagonal Garden, which has two luxuriant herbaceous borders flanking the path to the historic homestead.
“I’m enjoying beautifying the garden and helping to bring it back to its former glory as an authentic, old English heritage garden. Of course, it’s a long process, as plants grow slowly. In three years’ time, the garden will look unbelievable when mature plants are nestled in.”
Vergelegen offers garden and heritage walking tours daily, depending on the weather. Highlights include the gardens, significant trees, the homestead and library.