Andrew Ovenstone recalls Stellenberg’s old walls, lawns, ancient oak trees, huge poplars, hydrangeas and wild parts of undergrowth, as a magical garden in a unique setting, over 65 years ago.
Much later, his wife Sandy Ovenstone began a process which, after considerable experimentation, culminated in her decisions to use the old walls and topography of the land to create a series of gardens structured rather like rooms which either inter-lead or are linked by walks or allées. In many ways she felt that these echoed the interior of the old house. She began to execute her plans in the mid-1980′s with growing confidence, incorporating contemporary trends where these seemed appropriate.
Many talented gardeners have visited Stellenberg and their suggestions were carefully noted. Although Sandy refers her conceptual ideas to designers for input as to proportion and design, she makes her own decisions regarding the choice of plants and their positioning.
Her aim is to create different moods as one proceeds from garden to garden, but to generate a sense of peace and serenity wherever one might be. Those who visit the gardens during the annual open days towards the end of spring agree that she and her dedicated team of gardeners have created a magical garden in harmony with the historical homestead that is probably unique in South Africa.
Today, there are sixteen distinct areas in the gardens, namely the Garden Entrance, the White Garden, the Parterre Garden, the Vegetable Garden, the Garden of Paradise, the Herb Garden, the Shady Walkway, the main lawns and façade, the Wild Garden and reservoir walk, the Stream Garden, Lower-Stream Garden, the Lime Tree Walk, the Garden of Reflection, the Vine Walk allée, the Walled Garden and the Pool Garden.
In a deliberately inconspicuous way, old garden statutory and modern sculptures have been introduced to provide points of interest along the way.
The hand of David Hicks can be seen in the Walled Garden and the Vine Walk, while Francesca Watson has played an important role in the design of the Garden of Reflection, Stream Garden, Vegetable Garden and the White Parterre Garden. To view the Garden Plan and to visit the Gardens Gallery.
“A sense of place is the soul of the garden” – Arne Maynard