This post was originally published on the Portfolio Collection Travel Blog
In ancient times the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were world renowned as an oasis of lush greenery in the midst of a desert landscape. According to ancient sources, Nebuchadnezzar had the Hanging Gardens built around 600 BC for his wife Amytis, who was originally from Media and felt homesick for her verdant and mountainous home. The elaborate garden was constructed to replicate her lush homeland and cheer her up.
However, upon further research, one finds that the existence of these gardens is actually unconfirmed as no firm proof of their location has ever been discovered and many people now believe that the gardens may have been a myth all along.
Fortunately there is no such concern about the Gardens of Babylonstoren.
Located between the towns of Franschhoek and Paarl on a winefarm in the Cape Winelands, the Babylonstoren garden is fast becoming known as one of the great gardens of the modern world. Inspired by the Company’s Gardens of the Cape, over 300 species of organic vegetables and fruit are grown across eight acres of the formal garden and these are harvested throughout the year to supply the two restaurants on the estate.
The garden is divided into fifteen clusters including vegetable areas, berries, fruit trees, indigenous plants, and even a prickly pear maze. And just as it has happened for over 300 years in this part of the world, water is channeled into “leiwater” waterways from a stream into various areas of the garden to keep the plants well watered year round.
The garden at Babylonstoren is an excellent place to see nature at play – from the changing colours of the seasons, an “insect hotel” alive with life, a new crop of unusual plants and flowers or a cheeky squirrel stealing fruit for his supper – there is always something to keep you entertained. So much so that one visit is never enough, in fact it’s far better to plan multiply visits. One way to do this is to visit at least 4 times each year – each time in a different season!
“a garden is like someone you love, it is beautiful in every season.”
Gilles Guillot, head gardener at Prieuré d’ Orsan
Whatever the season, there is always something happening in the garden. Guests are invited to join in the harvesting, pruning, planting or picking of the many fruit, herbs, nuts, spices and vegetables. The gardeners also give guided tours every day at 10h00 to help ou discover what’s “in season”.
Here are a few ideas of things to see in the garden during each of the 4 seasons…
Take a stroll on a carpet of golden leaves
The pumpkins are ready for harvest – marvel at their size and variety
Mushrooms are in season – try to catch a glimpse of one of these beauties growing on decaying wood
Expect to find plectranthus taking over the Puffadder tunnel
Winter is citrus season – lemons, oranges and naartjies are in abundance
Prickly pineapples are growing now – look out for these unique plants
Late winter or early spring (August) is the best time to see the fruit trees in blossom
A walk along the river path in September is a must to admire the 7000 clivia in bloom
Warmer weather brings more buzz to the garden as the Cape honeybees get hard at work foraging for pollen and nectar.
Harvest is around the corner (in February or March) so grapes abound
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Images & Text: Kathryn Rossiter