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A mythical garden that will have your senses exploding

Robyn de Beer journeys to South Africa discovering a beautiful garden, alluring for parents and children alike.

It was our last day in the Cape Wine lands in South Africa when I decided we could not leave without seeing Babylonstoren. I had heard so much about these famous gardens, and it wasn’t like we’d be able to just pop back the next weekend.

I was a bit worried though, as we’d seen so many incredible farms already during our holiday in South Africa that the kids were getting a little over them. All they wanted to do was hang out by pool at our villa. I, on the other hand, could have spent weeks wandering around the spectacular farms and vineyards. There was big pressure for Babylonstoren to shine as I had promised the kids it was not another wine farm.

As we drove through the huge gates onto the farm I heard my husband mutter “wow” under his breath as he pulled out his video camera. The drive up to the farm was about half a kilometre through the most stunning rows of grapes vines I’d ever seen… and I had seen a lot that week. The kids still weren’t convinced and didn’t even want to get out of the car when we pulled into the car park. “You’re just going to taste more wine, aren’t you?” they whinged. Not this time I promised, and lured them out the car with the promise of ice-cream and cakes.

The gardens at Babylonstoren make up the heart of the farm and span across almost 3.5 hectares like one giant, spectacular veggie patch. The mazelike design is quite structured and so big that we needed a map to guide us around. Every fruit and vegetable grown in the garden was edible and grown as naturally as possible to supply the farm restaurant as well as many other local restaurants with fresh produce.

Before the kids even realised there was a maze to walk through, they had spotted the animals and were off. The donkey was just lovely and ever so friendly. Definitely the best groomed donkey I’ve ever seen. Shrek would have been impressed. Even the ducks and chickens were beautiful. In fact, I’ve never seen such pretty chooks before.

While we wandered through the gardens we took in all the amazing smells, from fresh garlic to limes and lavender. The kids ran around like headless chickens shouting “Mum, Look at this!”, “Dad, Dad, come and see this big pumpkin”, “Oooh look at these strawberries, can we eat them?”, and “Come and see the scarecrow Mum”. The earlier boycott totally forgotten.

The stunning white wash of the Cape Dutch buildings gleamed against the abundance of colours in the gardens. It was breathtakingly beautiful so I was in camera heaven. The attention to detail was amazing. Every fruit and vegetable was carefully labelled and there were so many I’d never even heard of. It was the most wonderful place to show kids where good food actually comes from.

We eventually made it to the glasshouse for their long promised ice-creams, and even they were made out of fresh fruit straight from the gardens. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Babel, the restaurant, as we hadn’t booked. Word on the street is that you need to book months in advance to get a table. I’ll definitely make a note of that for next time.

It was such a beautiful afternoon and Babylonstoren definitely lived up to its outstanding reputation. If you’re ever in the area I highly recommend you spend an afternoon there with the kids.

Robyn de Beer is a Sydney stay-at-home mum of three kids, aged 2, 5 and 8. When she is not tackling home work or doing the school run she share honest and amusing stories about motherhood, Thermomixing, photography, and everything in-between on her parenting and lifestyle blog Mrs D Plus 3

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