The Gardens – Old Nectar Gardens

The Gardens


The Gardens are normally open every day of the year except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission fee is R50 for adults, under 18’s free, payable by EFT or cash.

Noteworthy to all visitors are the variety of trees in the Old Nectar gardens; other than the oak trees, every tree in these gardens was planted by Una van der Spuy over a period of more than 70 years; they include Redwood, Elm, Copper Beech, Chorisia, Lombardy poplar, Liquidambar, Magnolia, Cape chestnut, Maple, Flowering peach, Flowering plum, Camellia and Prunus trees.

The 120-metre driveway to Old Nectar lies below a hillside of oak trees and overlooks an ornamental dam with views of trees and the sandstone cliffs of the 1500-metre Jonkershoek Mountains. Visitors are encouraged to park cars at the entrance to Old Nectar and walk up the drive to get a feel for the beautiful environment surrounding Old Nectar.


The Pergola Garden branches off to the right of the drive. It is a 200-metre walkway flanked by brick pillars adorned with roses and flowering shrubs and climbers. The brick pillars are the work of the Italian POWs and the sculptured plinths and capitols are worth noting - all created by chisel and hammer. There are benches along the pergola; places to sit quietly and reflect.

The Round Rose Garden is made up of hybrid tea roses, some of which date back to 1944. The roses include the ‘golden oldies’ Crimson Glory, Charles Mallerin, Charlotte Armstrong, Meilland Peace, Etoile, Cutters Gold and Queen Elisabeth. Next to the roses is the circular memorial bench under the shade of a tall Monkey puzzle tree (Auracacia Cunninghamii), planted by Una in 1944 as a gift to her husband, General Kenneth van der Spuy.

The Magnolia Walk leads from the rose garden under a group of magnolia and elm trees to a bell tower and round lily dam; follow the path upwards from near the memorial bench and enjoy the views of the manor house and mountains.

The Front Garden extends from the manor house downslope to the pergola. Terraced lawns with flanking paths and borders of azaleas and other flowering shrubs lead to a rectangular Victorian-tiled ornamental pond overlooked by two sentinel Lombardy poplars (Populus sempervirens) and a Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica) at one end and a mature camellia (Camellia japonica) at the other end.

The Bench Garden leads off the middle lawn terrace. A narrow lawn flanked by azaleas and under magnolia trees leads to a tiled bench. The late-1800's Victorian tiles came from the Cullinan tile works east of Pretoria, site of the discovery of the Cullinan diamond, the world’s largest gem-quality diamond, which graces the Royal Crown Jewels of Britain. Behind this bench are a miniature Japanese maple (Acer Dissectum Atropurpurea), birch trees (Betula Alba) and a gingko (Gingko Biloba).

The Millstone terrace to the left of the manor house contains an 1800’s millstone now used as a table. Until the 1960’s this millstone was in use at Mr Gelb’s water-powered grain mill in Stellenbosch, now the site of the Checkers Centre on Mill Street. This terrace is shaded by a large hollow oak tree, camellias, a Japanese maple and a rhododendron bush. It is a delightful sitting area during the hot summer months.

The Kitchen shaded Garden is immediately behind the manor house at the foot of the bank below the indigenous garden. The mature Japanese maple (Acer Palmatum), camellias (Camellia sasanqua) and a red-flowering rhododendron tree create shade in this area. The terrace links the Millstone terrace to the Waterfall garden.

The Waterfall garden occupies the L-shaped area at the back of the manor house. The lawn links the dining terraces to lily ponds fed by the waterfall mountain stream. The bonsai-like miniature Japanese maple (Acer dissectum atropurpurea) has had a happy home at the foot of the tall chimney for over sixty years.

The Indigenous Garden, started in 2014, occupies the hillside behind the manor house. It contains representatives of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Within the indigenous garden are various exotic trees planted by Una over the last seventy years, including the 20-metre redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens), grown from a seed and planted by Una in 1950, to honour her last born son, David.

The Terraced Woodland garden was started in 2014. The terraces lie in a grove of late-1800's oak trees; azaleas and clivias is ongoing. This garden is accessed from the end of the pergola walk.


Old Nectar & Una van der Spuy

Did you know there is a rose called ‘Una van der Spuy’?

You can see it in Una van der Spuy’s gardens at Old Nectar. It was a surprise gift to Una, cultivated by the renowned, Ludwig Tachner, founder of Ludwigs Roses.

Ludwig hybridised this new rose in 1998. It combines the old and the new; upright stems producing large delicate pink blooms and an old-fashioned scent.