Explore the city of Cape Town, drink the wine and wild air of the Winelands … but for needs of the heart and soul, retreat to the gardens of The Cellars-Hohenort in the Constantia Valley.
It had been said that all the world's problems can be solved in a garden. Of course, there are all kinds of gardens – rose gardens, cactus gardens, vegetable gardens, food forest gardens, sculpture gardens, rolling lawn gardens, indigenous plant gardens.
Each kind is beautiful and each has the potential to help build a healthy, sustainable earth, from the soil to the plants to the humans, birds, and bees living off them.
The gardens of The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town, in the Constantia Valley, are the all-encompassing kind. You can spend an entire day tailing the roving ducks to each corner of the nine acres, from the more than 2,500 roses to the 950 vines. Or seeking out the resident porcupine, roaming from the picnic garden to the Hohenort Lawns. Or following the path from the herb and vegetable garden to the restaurants: The Conservatory, built around a giant, 300-year-old oak tree, and the Greenhouse, where indigenous ingredients and local culinary traditions are presented through unique African storytelling.
Freshly picked leafy greens, citrus fruit, succulents, and edible flowers are from local suppliers or gathered in the forest, beaches, and gardens of the hotel. Fresh, local, and sustainable are the rule at both eateries.
Watching people wind through the paths in a garden like The Cellars-Hohenort, you can see a code of respect, veneration.
As they travel through the thick canopies of trees, past modest ponds, water features, and creeper- lined doorways, taking in the bougainvillea, agapanthus, plectranthus, clivia, hydrangeas, daffodils, and camphor trees, people walk more slowly, speak more softly. The better with which to hear the trees and breeze and birdsong, perhaps, or because the energy of the plants is so strong.
In this garden, people’s eyes shine brighter and, dare I say, there’s a shift in their hearts, too. I feel it, at least. It’s no accident, either. The garden, like the hotel, is the result of more than 20 years of hard work, love, and imagination by the owner, Liz McGrath, and the caring hand of co-creator Jean Almon.
Today, the gardens are beautifully maintained by Head Gardener Leigh-Ann Louw and her team, with help from Cape dwarf chameleons and the company of cinnamon doves, lemon doves, Cape white-eyes, forest canaries, paradise flycatchers, and squirrels.
The boutique hotel lies at the heart of this horticultural embrace, with guestrooms, suites, and private villas. About a 15-minute drive from downtown Cape Town, the peace of the garden extends to these places of slumber and retreat, to the spa and swimming pool and high-tea terrace – perhaps a little less to the putting green and tennis court, depending on your competitiveness.
Surrounding The Cellars-Hohenort is what is known as Cape Town’s Vineyard – the Constantia Wine Valley, South Africa’s most historic wine region. Explore it. But it’s always to the gardens that people return. Each season, something new is revealed. Just when you get used to the warmth of a dry summer in the garden, autumn arrives with deep reds and oranges, and then winter with her vibrant greens, and spring, with endless colorful blooms.
To play here, in The Cellars-Hohenort’s outdoors, even for a short while, you can’t possibly remember what all those problems were that needed solving. There is an ease to all things, a flow, like the natural cycles themselves.