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International Camellia Garden of Excellence

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Vergelegen is the home of an International Camellia Garden of Excellence – one of only two in the southern hemisphere, and the only one in Africa. It received the accolade from the International Camellia Society in 2010. There are 39 such gardens in the world.

The history of Vergelegen’s camellias goes back decades. The earliest camellia plantings consist of classic, pre-1940s Camellia japonica cultivars, most of which are now mature shrubs reaching up to heights of five metres. Most of these camellias were planted by Cynthia Barlow after her family bought Vergelegen in 1941.

That initial collection has been expanded through both donations and estate purchases. The collection was expanded at Vergelegen from 1995 when International Camellia Society member and retired camellia nurseryman Jan van Bergen donated several plants of each of the cultivars he had imported into South Africa, as well as new selections that he himself had bred. There is now a  remarkable collection of about 550 camellia cultivars making up a collection of about 1000 specimens. These have been sourced locally and as far afield as France, Japan and America.

These magnificent pink, red and white blooms are at their best in winter.

The camellias flower until early spring in three areas: the Barlow camellias at the bottom of the Great Lawn; near the Camphors restaurant; and near the banks of the Lourens River, the only South African river that is officially a Protected Natural Environment.

Heritage and Garden Tour bookings 021 847 2122, email winetasting@vergelegen.co.za.

To find out more about the International Camellia Society: https://internationalcamellia.org/about-this-programme

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