The weather in the Cape might have more violent mood swings than a hormonal teenager but one thing is for certain – spring has sprung! The wildflowers are beginning to bloom and all the gardens and green spaces around Franschhoek are looking lush, plump, and colourful from a thoroughly wet winter. With the birds in full song and the sun tentatively emerging from behind the clouds, now more than ever is the perfect time of year to take a stroll in the French Corner’s stunningly manicured green spaces and gardens.
Anthonij Rupert Wyne
+27 (0) 21 874 9004, Rupertwines.com
The Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room is embraced on all sides by spectacular gardens and green spaces. The front room of the refurbished Manor House leads out onto a veranda with breathtaking views of the Franschhoek Wine Valley, whilst the back porch displays vistas onto the rose garden and the Groot Drakenstein Mountains. Alongside the Manor House is a carefully selected herb garden, which showcases a broad range of culinary and medicinal herbs. Basically, everywhere you look there are heart-achingly beautiful views. It doesn’t hurt that the Manor House itself is a work of art either!
Big Dog Café
+27 (0) 21 876 2731, Bigdogcafe.co.za
One wouldn’t expect to find wander-worthy gardens at a boutique coffee roastery and breakfast spot but in Franschhoek, there are stunning and colourful green spaces to be found at just about every turn! Big Dog Café is one of the town’s most popular breakfast and coffee spots, which also has a gorgeous, treed garden bordered by mountain views. And a little deeper into its verdant embrace, you’ll find a maze and a vegetable and herb garden dotted with citrus trees.
+27 (0) 21 876 2679, Bistrobonbon.co.za
Located on the breathtakingly beautiful La Petite Dauphine Estate on Franschhoek’s Excelsior Road, the charming Bistro BonBon, with its rustic, country interior and views of dewy gardens, orchards, and mist-swathed mountains, offers a cosy, comforting setting for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. It’s also the perfect vantage point to watch the sun bathe La Petite Dauphine estate’s manicured gardens and orchards in silvery light! And since they’re pet friendly, why not bring the four-legged family members for a walk through their gardens before sitting down to a meal, enjoyed inside or al fresco under the shade of a 200-year old oak tree?
Boschendal’s Werf Food Garden
+27 (0) 21 870 4200, Boschendal.com
Since the opening of the Werf Food Garden, Boschendal’s vegetable allotment has grown to nearly five acres of plant perfection. With minimal intervention from human hands and no non-organic chemical usage, the herbs, fruits, and vegetables that proliferate here in staggering variety have been allowed to flourish as nature intended. Take a stroll through this fragrant food garden and marvel at how working withthe environment (and perhaps a little help from a gaggle of Indian runner ducks) can yield gorgeous, healthy food. Gardeners: be prepared to turn green with envy!
+27 (0) 21 863 3852, Babylonstoren.com
Set within eight acres of cultivated fruit and vegetables (with plenty of birds to be spotted), the big garden at Babylonstoren Estate is at the heart of the farm. It was inspired by the historic Company’s Garden in Cape Town, which supplied sailing Dutch East India Company ships with fresh produce during the days when the Cape was a halfway station between Europe and Asia. Babylonstoren offers a charming interactive garden tour every day, starting at 10:00 in front of the Farm Shop. One of their experienced gardeners will be your guide on this tour, during which guests are encouraged to pick, taste, smell, and touch the fresh produce that grows here.
Garden opening hours: 09:00 – 17:00 (last entry 16:00)
Franschhoek Medicinal Herb Garden
452 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek
Secreted away in plain sight on Franschhoek’s main road is this serene oasis where everything grown has medicinal and/or therapeutic applications. More than 47 different species of mostly indigenous medicinal herbs and plants grow here and, aside from just being incredibly interesting to meander through, importantly preserves indigenous medicinal lore and culture. If you ask, Yuda James, a shy man with a deep connection to nature will happily show you around the garden and introduce you to its inhabitants and their medicinal properties.
Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate
+27 (0) 21 876 8600, Grandeprovence.co.za
Like many wine farms in Franschhoek, Grande Provence is steeped in history, and while the Manor House still stands, an outstanding example of Cape Dutch architecture, the feel is one of distinct modernity. This, in large part, owed to the presence of some rather impressive bodies of sculpture that occupy the leafy gardens, such as Anton Smit’s overwhelming heads (part of his Walking Man exhibit) and Toby Megaw’s clay-modelled, bronze casts of small children. These are all tucked away into a lush garden shaded by towering oak trees and with spectacular views over Grande Provence’s vineyards; the perfect venue for a wine tasting and lunch!
Huguenot Monument Gardens
13 Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek
While wandering around Franschhoek’s town centre, you’re bound to come across the impressive stretch of lawn leading to the impressive Huguenot Monument. Venture near and you’ll discover some finer details of the 70-year-old monument, which commemorates the arrival of the Huguenots and the culture they brought to the Cape Colony. While there be sure to pop into the neighbouring Huguenot Memorial Museum and discover the tools they used to make wine, the clothes they wore, and more fascinating insights about their culture. And, of course, there are lovely gardens at the Huguenot Memorial Museum, and visitors are invited to bring along a picnic basket and enjoy the loveliness of Franschhoek.
La Motte Wine Estate
+27 (0) 876 8000, La-motte.com
In addition to its oak-shaded lawns, impeccably manicured sculpture garden, burbling stream, and embrace of indigenous Fynbos, La Motte is home to a splendiferous old-fashioned rose garden. Here, 19 different kinds of roses grow, including the hybrid tea rose, named after La Motte’s owner and renowned mezzo-soprano, Hanneli Rupert. Planted in a classic and formal style, the rose garden, with its fountain and pathways, is surrounded by indigenous shrubbery and traditional fruit trees, such as quince, pomegranate, and figs. It’s a magical place to steep in nature before or after a wine tasting, some art viewing, and a bite to eat.
+27 (0) 21 492 2222, Leeucollection.com/SA/garden-and-art-tours
Take a guided tour of the gardens, interspersed with strategically placed artworks at Leeu Estates, a five-star getaway ensconced in landscaped gardens, sweeping vineyards, and indigenous fynbos in the Franschhoek valley. The informative tours provide an opportunity to connect with art and nature in serene and meditative spaces with exceptional views. Analjit Singh, the Leeu Collection’s founder, personally curated the collection at Leeu Estates, which features predominantly life-sized bronze sculptures by Angus Taylor, Deborah Bell, Dylan Lewis, and Otto du Plessis, among other well-known mainly South African artists.