There are few things more soothing than starting the day with a stroll through a scenic garden. The grounds at the Vineyard Hotel are renowned for being naturally exquisite, not least since they are backed by a picturesque view of Table Mountain.
The original house was built in 1799 by Irishman Andrew Barnard and his wife Lady Anne – the famous Scottish artist and writer. The now classic architecture was in fact modern for its time as it was one of the few houses that strayed away from the more popular Dutch style design.
The garden tour starts in the reception area and proceeds into the spacious ‘backyard’ where, situated in an almost hidden courtyard, is the hotel’s Japanese Garden. Designed as an informal, free-flowing garden, it is the layout that is Japanese-inspired: the plants themselves are indigenous. And with a number of water features, this elegant space is imbued with a tranquil energy.
The main garden by contrast has a more tumultuous joy, with spacious lawns curving down to the Lisbeek River and soaring trees of three types of yellowwood (‘real’, outeniqua and henckels) along with the quinine tree and the black stinkwood. Carefully landscaped to retain its natural good looks, it is also the product of years of research. Excavations of the gardens have revealed such oddities as a massive pillar made from the same granite stone as Rhodes Memorial. The pillar now forms a part of the garden.
Our guide, Dewet Bezuidenhout, not only had a great sense of humour but was friendly, insightful, and extremely well-informed. We learnt about the wholly organic maintenance of the gardens, and visited the hotel’s small private vineyard as well as the impressive herb garden which supplies the hotel’s kitchen.
And as if an hour of an informative and relaxing walk was not enough, we returned to find a delicious elevenses has been prepared for us. The perfect ending to a mellow morning.
Garden tours of the Vineyard Hotel run every second Wednesday at a cost of R 60.