29 November 2011

Groot Constantia Wine Estate

Date: 19 November 2011

Location: Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Constantia

Walkers: Aafke & Helen

After a busy morning browsing at exhibitions and shopping our first stop at Groot Constantia was the Jonkershoek Restaurant for a refreshing cup of tea and a slice of cheesecake. Afterwards we decided to stroll around the estate. It was midday on the first hot day of the summer, so we were hugely grateful for the shade under the oak trees!

We decided to walk up the avenue, back towards the entrance gate.

From here we got a glorious view, west, of the back table and Devil's Peak.

We retraced our steps, back to the trees. Great view to the east too: vineyards, the southern suburbs, the cape flats and the Hottentot's Holland mountains in the distance.

The restaurant was filling up with the lunchtime crowd now.

The approach leads directly to the grand Cape Dutch Manor House.

We walked around the manor house to the pond and cellar building behind. The Groot Constantia estate dates back to the 1680s. I always enjoy visiting - it's such a gracious old building, with a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere in the grounds.

We decided to continue our stroll up the path to the historic bath. Another invitingly avenue, with impressively huge oak trees creating dappled light and welcome coolth.

There were several squirrels about, but this little fellow was particularly tame. Poor little guy hasn't much of a tail!

Beyond the path lie vineyards, with white rose borders.

We continued up the path. I remember picnicing on the green lawns to the left years ago but they seem to have disallowed that now. Signs forbid picnics and warn of baboons in the area.

There is a little garden at the top, with the old pool almost empty and looking a bit dilapidated. We sat on a bench and soaked in the glorious vistas. The slight elevation means awesome views of the Constantia mountains...

... and down to Silvermine and Muizenberg. Hooray for summer!


Stroll on Fish Hoek Beach

: 6 November 2011

Location: Fish Hoek beach, from Clovelly Corner

Walkers: Helen, Leeane and friends

Previous walks on this beach here, here and here.

I met up with my old 'varsity friend Lee, back in SA on holiday with a couple of friends, for a walk along Fish Hoek beach. It was a sunny day, but with a sneaky cold wind, especially on the Clovelly corner side where we started.

It was nicer on the Fish Hoek side...

... so we continued along Jagger Walk. Chatting all the way!

Cape Town was looking particularly gorgeous for our overseas visitors.


18 November 2011

Muratie Wine Estate

Date: 5 November 2011

Location: Muratie Wine Estate, near Stellenbosch

Walkers: Dorothy & Helen

Dorothy and I popped into Muratie Wine Estate near Stellenbosch to meet family and friends for lunch. Arriving a little early we had a few minutes to explore the environs before we ate.

Beautiful old Cape Dutch buildings are surrounded by mature oak trees and a lush garden.

Muratie's a lovely peaceful spot. And their cheese platter lunch was delish!


13 November 2011

Open Garden at Cellars-Hohenort

Date: 22 October 2011

Location: The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Constantia

Walkers: Dorothy, Jenny, Iain and Helen

For other open garden visits (from 2010) see here, here, here and here.

I haven't been doing any walking due to a very sore back and extreme busyness. However when friends Iain and Jenny mentioned that the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel was having a open garden I made a plan to visit as this was just what I needed in this stressful time: some gentle exercise to loosen my strained back, and time in a beautiful environment to soothe my rather frayed nerves.

The property, in leafy Constantia, dates back to 1693. While some of the buildings are from those early times, the rather grand main manor house was completely rebuilt in 1907. And the garden itself was redesigned about a decade ago. It covers a large area. We happily picked up a map to guide us. We started at the white garden, walking up the road.

We had a quick peek at the courtyard garden. Such a bright bougainvillea!

A family of ducks waddled past. The herb garden has beds with a mix of flowering plants, herbs and vegetables: fabulous-looking spinach and broccoli thriving amongst the irises and pansies.

It was a very cold blustery afternoon, with the threat of rain. The cheerful flowers really lifted my spirits.

From the herb garden we got a great view back to the manor house.

We left the road and followed the path towards the woodlands.

I loved the mix of red and green in these beds.

Grassy lawns led up to the hotel buildings.

Our path look us past the water garden. Yellow irises, white arum lilies and lots of lush ferns surrounded the small pond.

Below this we found the famous camphor trees. There are eight of these magnificent trees here, 200 years old. And amongst them: trees ferns, clivias and other shade-loving plants. By now a soft drizzle had started so we were glad to be in the forest. We had to tread carefully though as the paths were extremely slippery!

Wonderful woodland!

Our meanderings took us up through the rustic garden.

Here we found all sorts of pretty and colourful flowering plants.

As well as some green ones.

We passed through the garden gate to reach the the citrus terraces.

From here we climbed past the herb terraces to the arches. I loved the chequerboard paving with the mondo grass.

The weather was looking threatening so we went in search of a cup of tea, passing the rose garden on the way.

The peach-coloured rose was so pretty.

Up on the balcony of the manor house we watched the rain pour down as we had tea and scones.

After our refreshments we strolled down the lawns in front of the house.

No ducks welcome in the swimming pool.

I really liked the reds and orange shades in these front beds.

And I can never resist a lily.

We walked around the perimeter path, past the vineyard.

English lavender and white roses...

... heliotrope...

... and an usual white lavender caught my eye.

As we walked around the garden again we kept close to the Cellars building, enjoying the more formal plantings here.

Water features and small sculptures feature amongst the flowering plants.

We passed the formal reflecting pools, took a turn around the golf green...

... and finished where we started, at the white garden.