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Gardening talent blooms at Vergelegen

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Vergelegen is the home of numerous magnificent gardens, and keeping them in optimal condition requires a highly experienced, hard-working horticultural team.

Chris Randlehoff took up his new post as a Vergelegen horticulturist in March 2022 and is responsible for maximising the floral features of this beautiful property, which is a provincial heritage site. He also oversees 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. His plant and landscaping knowledge complement the skills of the estate’s long-established horticulturist Richard Arm.  

Chris 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. 

Hehas worked on 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 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 the team had five days to set up the showcase. This was worth it though as the stand won a gold medal in both 2018 and 2019.

Chris, 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. He is 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 management is intent on making the property a truly world-class destination for garden lovers. During the strict Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, they chose to view the closure of the estate to visitors during some weeks as an opportunity to reassess the gardens. The team is 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.

Vergelegen offers garden and heritage walking tours daily, depending on the weather. Highlights include the gardens, significant trees, the homestead and library. The cost is R50/person and duration is approximately one hour. To book,  contact the Wine Tasting Centre (021 847 2122) or winetasting@vergelegen.co.za.  

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