South Africa’s favourite city of oaks, Stellenbosch, is pulling out the stops for gardeners and lovers of the great outdoors in a new, week-long festival that will transform its streets and surrounding countryside from 30 September – 10 October. Major drawcards include a first-ever Stellenbosch winelands experience featuring SA Michelin star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen.
The inaugural Garden Week Stellenbosch – inspired by the world-famous flower festival of Girona, Spain – will encompass everything from horticultural tours to landscape art; dining to hiking; and, guest specialists to music in majestic settings.
In addition to a host of highlights for fans of flora and Mother Nature, in general, will be a flower parade, which officially launches Garden Week Stellenbosch on 30 September.
The event is an initiative of Visit Stellenbosch, a destination marketing organisation comprising the region’s tourism stakeholders with the objective of growing the tourism and experience economy in Stellenbosch for the benefit of all communities. Garden Week takes place in the run-up to National Garden Day on 17 October. The Garden Week’s educational initiative, organised in partnership with Rama and New Life Microgreens will provide children with “Microshooters” – microgreen grow kits-in-a-tub. The project is an extension of Rama’s work with the Department of Education, undertaken since 2017 to help teach school-going children about the value of good nutrition via the Rama Good Breakfast programme.
Garden Week will also feature several installations to be carried out by landscapers and local botanical artists.
Open gardens and nature walk – Some of the region’s most splendid public gardens will be open to visitors, including the historic Old Nectar estate in the Jonkershoek Valley; the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden in Paradyskloof; Spier Wine Farm, whose workshops include one for children; and, Delaire Graff Estate. The owners of some 20 private gardens will participate too, giving visitors a rare glimpse of exquisite and usually inaccessible spaces. Guided walks give visitors the chance to enjoy the gardens in the company of guides while the more energetic might wish to undertake fynbos wilderness hikes on offer.
Talks and workshops – A renowned centre of excellence, the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens has compiled a special programme of daily walks and talks to be presented by acclaimed specialists. Workshops are also to be presented at the Rupert Museum; Blaauwklippen Wine Farm off the R44; Jordan Wines; Spier Estate and Babylonstoren.
Topics include flower arranging, dye art, photography, growing-your-own and learning about bees. For budding artists, the Stellenbosch Arts Association will present a botanical drawing workshop.
Food and wine – Stellenbosch is the heartland of South African wine and home to leading chefs and restaurateurs too. This reputation will be showcased in festival-inspired dishes to feature on menus as well as a series of garden-and-wine dining events. Among them is an exquisite Finding Eden experience with South African Michelin star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. Another festival highlight is a seven-course Botanical Banquet prepared by JAN Innovation Studio in Cape Town.