Historic Stellenbosch homestead Old Nectar has appointed well-known horticulturist Cherise Viljoen as its general manager. A former senior manager of SANBI’s famous Kirstenbosch Garden, Cherise will oversee amongst others, Old Nectar’s expansive landscape filled with heritage plants that has been the premier destination for garden-lovers for over 70 years.
“Cherise’s appointment is the positive outcome of a thorough search for the right person to fulfil Old Nectar’s many needs going into the future,” says Peter Vanderspuy*, whose late mother Una established the garden in the Jonkershoek Valley in the early 1940s.
One of Cherise’s first major initiatives will be to host Old Nectar’s Spring Open Gardens Celebration on October 30 and 31, and November 1. It dovetails with a recommendation by The Gardener magazine’s September issue that featured Old Nectar as an Open Garden of South Africa to visit this Spring.
Old Nectar’s event will contribute a portion of ticket sales to the Stellenbosch Animal Welfare Society.
Highlights of the Old Nectar Spring Open Garden Celebration include:
- 45min guided tours at 10am, 12pm and 2pm;
- A presentation of the newly-planted cut-flower garden by Cherise Viljoen;
- The rose garden, which is budding and expected to be in full bloom;
- The sale of “My favourite Plants” and “How to Design your Garden” – books authored by Una van der Spuy; and,
- An art exhibition by artists Emma Fyfe-Jamieson and Paddy Bouma until November 15.
“Open Gardens is a wonderful opportunity for garden-lovers to re-connect with Old Nectar and meet Cherise, who is building on Old Nectar’s heritage by continuing to grow the legacy of gardening established by my late mother,” says Peter.
The history of the garden began when the late Una van der Spuy and her husband, Kenneth, acquired the property in 1941. She soon poured herself into transforming the property. The landscape gradually evolved over the years into a tranquil Eden of multi-layered, tree-lined and flower-filled spaces populated by a vast and diverse collection of both well-known and truly unusual botanical species.
Una became renowned thanks to her skilled green fingers and passion, as well as the Old Nectar Nurseries; but, even more so through her writing. She wrote and published 15 books. Peter, her middle son, later took on the property’s mantle until he announced his retirement at the end of September this year, handing the management reins to Cherise.
Cherise holds a master’s degree in Horticulture and for the past 20 years worked as a senior manager at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town. She has many years of people-management experience besides her in-depth knowledge of horticulture and plants, both indigenous and exotic. Cherise is renowned in her field, is a sought-after key-note speaker and regularly features on Cape Talk radio.
“Old Nectar is truly one of the classic gardens of the Cape and represents a wonderful new chapter for me,” she says.
Referring to the upcoming Spring Open Garden Celebration, Cherise says she’s particularly excited about showing the property’s new cut-flower garden.
“It was designed by Susie Leblond from Flourish Urban Flower Farm, in Constantia,” she explains. “The idea came about after Susie learnt that Una had sold cut flowers at the Stellenbosch market when she began her gardening journey at Old Nectar. This inspired me to want to begin my journey in the garden in the same manner, and honouring Una.”
The seven cutting garden beds will produce long-stemmed blooms grown for floral garden display, but also suited to being cut for the vase or flower arranging in the manor house. These gardens typically have very showy flowers that need more specialized care to grow than the average garden plant.
The first plantings were made in early October and will flower from mid-December to end-April. Flower enthusiasts will be happy to know that special and unusual dahlias have been chosen as the highlight of the current season.
How Old Nectar got its name
Records show that land in the Jonkershoek Valley was first granted in 1692 although architectural studies suggest that the original homestead at Old Nectar dates to the early 1700s. It was in the 1800s, that the name Nektar became associated with the property. Having bought the land, Kenneth and Una embraced the moniker by referring to themselves in later years as “the Old Nectarines”. The name Old Nectar stuck and became famous under the tenure of the van der Spuys, who are the longest owners of the land in its history.
The Old Nectar garden is open every day of the year. The ticket prices for the Spring Open Garden Celebration are the standard entrance fees at Old Nectar: R50pp paid in cash at the entrance. Under 18’s are free.
Visitors are encouraged to pack and a picnic basket to enjoy in the gardens. Well behaved dogs on leashes are also welcome.
Details at a GlanceOld Nectar in Stellenbosch invites families to their Spring Open Gardens Celebration on October 30 and 31, and November 1.