The Elle Deco Spring Issue, now on shelf, is all about getting out, as our thoughts turn to gardens, growing things and greening the spaces we live in. We’d like to show you a few spreads from South Africa’s most beautiful garden book. If you love what you see, go and see some of these remarkable gardens in all their spring glory. And get the book. Or win the book… Scroll down for the how-to.


Now really is the time to be looking at gardens. And even if you’ll never own a Brenthurst or a Cavers or a Stellenberg, you can always go there – and steal with your eyes.  Scroll down for open days, special tours and dates.

In Remarkable Gardens of South Africa, the stunning beauty of South Africa’s top gardens is revealed by Craig Fraser and Nini Bairnsfather-Cloete. Featuring dreamy photographs and engaging text, the book combines history and horticulture to take the reader on a fascinating journey through 20 of the most magical private gardens in the country.

Published by Quivertree, the story that it tells so beautifully represents Nini’s journey. She took the project on as an adventure, jumped into her car and made it her mission to find the most incredible gardens in South Africa.

Gardens of every size and description were found and explored. The diversity is what is so absorbing about the collection of gardens in this book. From rock gardens and cactus gardens to the established traditional gardens of historical landmarks like Stellenberg and Brenthurst.

Other comments from the publisher:

• A multifaceted kaleidescope of gardens is featured, from those that are carefully and formally landscaped to those left to their own free-spirited and natural devices

• The gardens are located in a diverse group of regions and climates. These range from the majesty of the Cape Floral Kingdom to the Little Karoo, the Drakensberg mountains and KwaZulu-Natal

• Conversations with the gardens’ owners illuminate their histories, with the trials, tribulations and triumphs of their personal journeys, shedding light on the creation of each garden

• Landscape elements featured in the book include water gardens, sculpture gardens, parterres, herb and vegetable gardens and farm gardens

While many of these gardens usually remain hidden from view, in Remarkable Gardens of South Africa their stunning scenery, rich history and intriguing diversity are explored with romantic, inspiring results.

Here’s a list of some of the finest – and the best time to go-see is October / November.

Stellenberg  2 open days (3rd & 4th Nov)

Maasstrom  last weekend of October

Cavers 26,27,28 October
Schoongezicht – open to the public during the week from 09h30 – 16h30 and on Saturday until 14h00.
Visitors are welcome to wonder up to the tasting centre to enjoy some of the estate’s wines.
Fresh Woods Nov 3,4,10,11
Benvie 22 September to 7 October

Babylonstoren is always open.

Brenthurst Johannesburg opens in October for garden tours. Visit their website for details.


Tell us which garden in the book appeals to you most. Please post your answers below.

isbn: 0-9869813-6-2. For further information contact:

Craig Fraser @ Quivertree Publications

Tel: +27 21 4616808 • Mobile: +27 83 6271656 •

Posted by Inge van der Merwe & Jenny Mason 





  1. Stellenberg in Kenilworth in the Southern Suburbs is one of the most inspiring gardens i have ever been to. I live in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town, so it is truly like a “day out” when we drive all the way to Kenilworth.

    Just get in your car and go!

    Stellenberg is large and majestic, yet I think it’s best quality is the special intimacy it creates.

    My personal favourite is the white garden (green and white: it reminds every gardener that less is more) and the ornamental sculpture, arch-ways and stone benches (there is a special place for art in every garden).

    This place helps me “pull myself towards myself” even after the most chaotic week…

  2. Babylonstoren – after every visit to Babylonstoren, I dream of owning a piece of land with fresh water, a few fruit trees, herbs and vegetables and keeping a few chickens and ducks!Back to reality and my ordinary sized town garden, I have applied many of the ideas that inspire me at Babylonstoren: formal hard landscaping with creative use of different textures, forms and colours; combining modern with rustic; planting herbs and vegetables in such a way as to be part of the main garden and of course the beautiful espaliers!I had the privilege of a preview of fruit trees in pots in their nursery that they are training in different shapes and forms, definitely something I would like to add to my garden.

  3. Kirstenbosch inspires me! It is amazing at this time of year. Beautifully laid out, the walks at the top through the forest past the river is my favorite, then when you reach the top you can look down on the gardens & feel miles away.

  4. I’m inspired by the garden at Babylonsteron where the ordinary has been treated with such dignity.
    It’s a garden full of beautiful simple surprises.
    And a place where one is reminded that abundance is the natural law of the universe.

  5. O definatly Babylonsteron – i have not had the good fortune of visiting this amazing place but its on my list of must sees!! everytime i pick up a magazine and see the gorgeous pictures i am so inspired to do something magical and creative in the garden even though i am not a gardener!!

  6. The gardens are remarkable and so beautiful a window of delight. Kirstenbosch makes the connection for me the colour sare like a tapestry unfolding.

  7. Obviously Babylonstoren is lovely, but the garden has made an impression and has me wanting to go back to see it is Wildwoods. It was like a kids dream of large grounds, overgrown plants and trees, flowers everywhere. A place you wouldn’t be surprised to see fairy or two around the next corner.

  8. Magnificant Stellenberg in Kenilworth is a labour of love reflecting the stylish old age rhythm of unforgettable and awinspiring gardens.I feel such pleasure as I walk into the garden,holding my breath in awe and wonder at its aray of prominantly displayed plant species, bright, decorative colors,its imaginative design and sculptured impact in the landscape. I realise that some divine force of nature has been at work leaving countless blessings on all those who get to share in the true beauty of this very special garden of such splendour .

    Thank you for creating such a magnificant book!!

  9. Stellenberg truly is a remarkable garden. Or gardens, rather, as it is more a collection of garden rooms in the English style. I will never forget my first visit to Stellenberg and my joy at discovering a garden of this calibre and scale in the middle of suburbia. Stellenberg has inspired my own garden, on a much smaller scale but with similar plants and combinations.
    Top tip: Stellenberg Gardens Nursery is THE nursery of choice for landscapers and is little known amongst the public. It offers fantastic value and the same range of plants as in the adjacent gardens. Not a huge range but this is actually a plus in my opinion. Aaron is one of the gardeners who works at the nursery – he is incredibly knowledgable and helpful. A gem!

  10. I absolutely adore Kirstenbosch! When I was about 8 years old, my mom once asked me which place is the most beautiful place in the world to me. I answered: Kirstenbosch! Now that I’m sixteen, I still think it’s amazing. When I’m there it feels to me as if all the cares in the world disappear. We go there regularly. I love nature and wish for my own garden one day.

  11. I wish my Grandmother and my father were still alive to see the book ,Remarkable Gardens of South Africa. Although my grandmother grew blind in her old age she could still type and write beautiful prose about each of her gardens in her various homes on farms in East Griqualand. With the backdrop of the Maluti mountains in Lesotho, her love for roses and hydrangeas would fill the beds amongst sandstone walls and paths. Her passion for gardening was then passed on to my father who became a well-known landscaper of many Johannesburg and KZN midlands homes, and when he died one early summer, he was surrounded by flowers and roses from so many of those gardens that he lovingly landscaped. I miss him tremendously and find myself strolling through lovely gardens to get closer to him. I want to thank Quiver tree for producing a book that can take so many of us on a virtual amble through some of the most extraordinary gardens in South Africa.

  12. Oops! I forgot to say which one appeals to me the most…because it’s impossible to choose one above the other.

  13. The winner of the book is Pippa Hetherington. Thanks Pippa for your beautiful comment. This competition is now closed.