Vineyards unfold on rolling hills, glimpses of whitewashed Cape Dutch homesteads appear against the dramatic backdrop of the Franschhoek and Simonsberg mountains, less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town. And Babylonstoren, or Tower of Babel, is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in this region.
In recent years a formal 8 acre garden has been laid out on the farm and wine estate,with over 300 varieties of edible plants. Room after room unfolds, herbs, nectarines, gnarled olive trees, a guava walk, all inspired by the Company Gardens in Cape Town, where for centuries ships would replenish their food stocks as they sailed from Europe to Asia.
This is an edible garden on the grand scale, created by French architect Patrice Taravella along a strict grid system, with pergolas of fragrant roses standing sentinel to each room. One enters via the “Fragrant Labyrinth” of herbs and lavender, the spectacular natural landscape almost stealing the show.
But we are drawn onwards, along the Guava Avenue, olive and citrus orchards on our left and the series of garden rooms beckoning us on the right.
Fruit dangles from above, ripening nectarines are espaliered, alongside step-over apples and pears.
Sometimes the way is clear as we follow to the broad avenue of stoned fruit , but, to the sides, are intriguing glimpses of the fowl houses and birdhouse “town”.
The seating ranges from the quirky
to the formal
There is an indigenous fragrant garden and a prickly pear maze.
A snaking shade tunnel weaves past the river, where thousands of clivias bloom in the spring.
Suspended planters of ripening strawberries draw you on into the shade
This is a stylish garden that rewards exploration and will continue to improve as the seasons pass.
And, if you would like to sample the garden produce, there is a chic restaurant, “Babel”.
And, discreetly tucked away, guest cottages. So you won’t have to drag yourself away when your garden visit is over.
(All photography mine; feel free to use any of Jardin’s images but please credit and link back)