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Bookings open for South Africa’s only International Camellia Garden of Excellence

Cape Town, 31 May 2019 – The first winter-flowering pink, red and white blooms are blossoming at South Africa’s only International Camellia Garden of Excellence – and flower fans are already booking for the highly anticipated annual Camellia Weekend at Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West.

This garden ‒ one of only 39 International Camellia Gardens of Excellence in the world, and one of only two in the Southern Hemisphere ‒ boasts a remarkable collection of about 550 camellia cultivars. These have been sourced locally and as far afield as France, Japan and America. There are about 1000 specimens in total, with glossy foliage and a glorious array of blooms that can be viewed from now until early spring.

Camellia garden

While the 319-year-old estate is open daily for visitors to enjoy the flowers and numerous other attractions, camellia fever will peak during the Camellia Weekend on 27 and 28 July. The estate will offer two daily guided tours of the camellia garden on both Saturday and Sunday, followed by refreshments in the Stables family restaurant. The tours will depart from Stables at 09h00 and 14h30. (Bookings 021 847 2156, [email protected]).

Each tour, led by estate horticulturist Richard Arm, continues for one and a half hours and accommodates 25 people.  Booking is essential. The cost includes the entrance fee, tea/coffee and a selection of cakes at Stables.

“Vergelegen received this international garden accolade nine years ago, but the history of camellias at Vergelegen goes back decades,” says Arm. “The earliest camellia plantings consist of classic, pre-1940s Camellia japonica cultivars, most of which are now large, mature shrubs of up to five metres in height. Most of these camellias were planted by Cynthia Barlow after her family bought Vergelegen in 1941.”

That initial collection has been expanded through both camellia donations and estate purchases. Guests can now view the camellias in three areas: the Barlow camellias at the bottom of the Great Lawn; near the Camphors signature restaurant; and near the banks of the Lourens River, the only South African river that is officially a Protected Natural Environment.

The estate is open Monday-Sunday 09h00-17h00 (last entry 16h00). Bookings for the Camellia Weekend 021 847 2156, [email protected].  

More information on Vergelegen:

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