It was a shipwreck that changed the course of history.
In 1644, the Dutch ship Nieuwe Haarlem ran aground in the infamous Cape of Storms, which eventually led to the creation of a new state on the southern part of the African continent. While all crewmen survived the wreckage, not all could return immediately to Holland, with 60 men asked to remain in the Cape to look after the cargo.
Unscathed and once on dry land, some of the remaining crewmen arrived at a spring, where they set up base and sowed seeds using the fresh river water available to them. Soon, a few buds sprouted, and over time, an abundant garden was growing thanks to the rich, fertile soil. Upon Jan van Riebeeck’s order, the garden was used to supply fresh produce to passing ships more fortunate than the Nieuwe Haarlem - who had begun to use the Cape as a refreshment station. By 1662, the garden had over 70 dedicated acres and became a true sight to behold - lush with tropical fruit, juicy vegetables, aromatic herbs, medicinal plants, pine trees and colorful shades of roses that all filled the air to create an alluring scent in the growing town.
Indeed, such a project required a true visionary, and it was so that Head Gardener Wijnand Leenders was appointed to cultivate and nourish the garden - which later came to be known as the Company’s Gardens, located in the heart of Cape Town.
Today, the Company Garden’s is a national monument and a historical home to South Africa’s oldest cultivated pear tree, some of the first vineyards in the country, a popular tea house and a myriad of untold stories to uncover and share over a fine glass of wine.