The Secret Garden of Ellerman House

Ellerman House

As an outsider looking in, it’s a simple thing you see. A garden. But for the insider, it’s not simple at all. They see purpose in every corner, life in every dab of shade. It is the library lonely children retreat to, the playground for overactive imaginations, the church to marvel in, the remote island to find quiet in the storm.

The garden of Ellerman House is no different, whatever age you enter as, 18 or 81. Last year, we at Relais & Châteaux turned 60. And we chose to celebrate it in this very garden at Ellerman House beside the Atlantic Ocean.

Assisting us was one Paul Odendaal. A well-known name in the landscaping and gardening fraternity, Paul planted 60 roses dedicated to Relais & Chateâux in the estate’s indigenous garden for the occasion. We knew our roses were in good hands (or greenfingers) as Paul, together with Keith Kirsten and Raymond Hudson, was also part of the team that created the magnificent gardens at Delaire Graff in Stellenbosch.

Roses at Ellerman House

In the spirit of the Chelsea Flower Show in London this week, we wanted to bring you a special feature from one of our own gardens, on the coast of South Africa. Britta Dahms from Ellerman House shadowed Paul through the green corners of the hotel to find out what he’s currently up to…

“When we caught up with Paul, he was busy planting Agapanthus in the garden next to the bottom terrace. He has chosen Agapanthus Blue Bayou and states that the indigenous plant will compliment the panoramic ocean views and not grow too tall and obstruct the view. He added Dierama (fishermen’s bells) and Wild Garlic to name a few to the mix and noted that it will provide the section with flowers all year round and provide some variety on the terrace.

Paul draws his inspiration from the surroundings as well as the climate and noted that he simply loves the Mediterranean climate in Cape Town as it provides opportunity to plant a variety of species. The brief he received for the garden at Ellerman House was to use only indigenous flora, including fynbos and incorporation some plant material that are sometime forgotten like Belladona lilies.

Fynbos grows in a 150km to 200km belt along the coast of South Africa and forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom that is part of only 6 floral kingdoms in the world. Paul mentioned that working with Fynbos could be quite tricky as a fynbos garden can quickly look like a veld or grow in all directions at once. His aim at Ellerman House is to make the space look like a landscaped garden and make the Fynbos work with him in creating the beautiful garden.

We are very excited to see how the garden at Ellerman House evolves into a beautiful landscaped replica of the indigenous plants we find all over Cape Town and the surrounds. We will also be keeping a close eye on the Relais & Châteaux roses after the winter so be sure to watch this space.”

Roses

“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space – a place not just set apart but reverberant – and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.”

― Michael Pollan
Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

We Are Not One Story. We Are Africa.

We Are Africa 1

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James A. Michener

Imagine the world as one film.

In my imagining, Woody Allen is directing. Perhaps your version is more Spielberg or Coppola, but for most of us, Africa’s role in this film is the same. And it is played by the same actors: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, David Livingstone and Simba. Four characters to represent more than 50 countries and over a thousand languages. Hotel Rwanda, Out of Africa, The Lion King: those are the films the audience sees.

This year’s We Are Africa event in Cape Town gathered people from all over the world – the directors, the viewers and the actors themselves, so to speak – and called for a rewrite. A reimagining of the story told of Africa. It called for a story told not of but by those from Africa, of Africa, in Africa. For a broadening of our script, for the inclusion of the infinite tales, the truths, that span the continent – tales, truths, that can be told no better than by the people born on African soil. It demanded that we go beyond the single story, beyond the safari, to the humanity.

Not One Story

Africa. Not the film of… That is what we hope to share with you. In our space online and off. Here in our dispatches from the field and in the field itself – on Routes du Bonheur that tie some of the many destinations and experiences of Africa together with one golden thread.

The stories that arose from We Are Africa this month inspired with their courage – such as Levison Wood’s Walking the Nile – and excited with their flavour and diversity – at our pop-up Gastronomic Bar, for instance. Perched at the entrance to the event, our bar united chefs from all over Africa, from the coast of Hermanus to the banks of the Zambezi, allowing for that mixing of old tales and creation of new to emerge as they do on travels through Africa.

Below are some snapshots from the event. But remember, this is only one tale.


“We Are Africa. We Are Not One Story.”

The Collection

Laurent-Perrier

Waterford Wines

The Gastronomic Bar


Virgil Kahn
Head Chef at Delaire Graff‘s Indochine Restaurant

Delaire Graff

We Are Africa 3

We Are Africa


Ashley Moss
Head Chef at The Cellars-Hohenort

Chef Ashley Moss

Ashley Moss

Gastronomic Bar

Gastronomic Bar

Nespresso 6


Veronica Canha-Hibbert
Head Chef at Ellerman House

Ellerman House

Taste the World


Sungani Phiri
Head Chef at Royal Chundu

Gastronomic Bar

Royal Chundu Treats


Delia HarbottleThe Cellars-Hohenort
Chad Blows – Head Chef at The Marine

The Collection Chefs

Gastronomic Bar

We Are Africa

We Are Africa 2


Thank you to We Are Africa for hosting us, to the incredible Relais & Châteaux chefs from our hotels and lodges and to our partners – Waterford Wine Estate, Valrhona chocolate and Nespresso.

The Wine Rorschach Test – Delaire Graff Estate

Delaire Graff

Wine relieves us from our minds. This is my favourite of its attributes. Which probably says more about me than the wine itself. Such is the nature of this particular poison.

In the way that a Lionel Smit or Dylan Lewis speaks to its audience in a myriad of ways, so wine shows itself differently to different people. Whether looking at a sculpture on the lawns of Delaire Graff in the Cape Winelands or sipping Chardonnay on its verandah, what we read into the work gives us a little glimpse into ourselves. Wine is the window to the soul, you could say… Our preferred style of Rorschach test.

For Rylan Gentles, Head Sommelier of Delaire Graff Restaurant, it’s about the art and the pleasure of it all.

Delaire Graff

Rylan pours us a glass of his white reserve over a lunch of pan-seared cob, squid with hake and lemon mousse, tamarind gel, cauliflower puree, pumpkin and ginger gnocchi, at Delaire Graff one Autumn afternoon, and explains his art to us:

“To me wine is an art, it is special and I look at it as bottled poetry. Every bottle of wine tells its own story. It gives a sense of place and it is giving thought to the time, dedication and hard work that went into creating it which enhance the joy of each sip.

Each wine is different in its own way. There are so many wine styles and grape varieties which have their own distinct smell and taste. My favourite grape is chardonnay because of its versatility. It can be enjoyed with or without food, at lunch or dinner, with friends and family. From the delicate lighter styles to the more full and textured with luscious fruit and aromas, chardonnay is a wonderful cultivar to explore.

Wine is my passion and it’s made for pure enjoyment, bringing people together. Wine is a lifestyle and my favourite thing about is that you can never get bored. There is so much to learn and the wine world is evolving every day with new techniques, vintages and creativity of winemakers.”

Tell us in the comments section what your favourite thing about wine is, what it is that compels you in the search for the perfect bottle, and take a look at some images from our visit below.

Delaire Graff Estate

Delaire Graff Restaurant

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff