The Rose Garden at Mayville, Swellendam

The Rose Garden at Mayville, Swellendam

The ground on which Mayville is situated was originally part of the Drostdy property before it was sold to the Cape government in 1846. The property on the south-western side of the old highway, which included the Drostdy building, was bought by Daniel de Bruyn for 1350 pounds.

From this time it changed hands many times, but in 1974 the Drostdy Museum received Mayville in a bequest from Nita Steyn. Over the next few years extensive restoration of the building as well as redecoration of the interior was undertaken. It was officially opened to the public as a house museum in 1978.

The Rose Garden at Mayville, Swellendam
The Rose Garden at Mayville, Swellendam

The rose garden was established on ground that formed part of the Mayville.  It was the express wish of the benefactor, Miss Nita Steyn, that a rose garden for the pleasure of visitors be created on this spot. Gwen Fagan designed the garden in 1978 and a policy to plant heritage roses was adopted.

The rose is one of the most ancient of flowers and an attempt has been made to reflect something of its development towards the modern hybrid tea rose.  Old varieties of shrubs, flowers and herbs are used for interplanting.

The Rose Garden at Mayville, Swellendam
Rosa Mermaid
The Rose Garden at Mayville, Swellendam
Rosa rugosa

The garden gate opens onto a broad path defined by a row of bay trees on the left and Alba roses on the right.  The first part of the garden consists of a formal rectangular lawn and is revealed when one goes through the arch covered by a white Rosa banksiae  and fragrant star jasmine. The two cypress trees were specially planted in remembrance of the sisters Nina and Nita Steyn.

February is not the best time of the year to visit as only a few roses had a couple of flowers; Rosa Mermaid and Rosa rugosa braved the scorching sun by putting out a few blooms, Physostegia also made a brave attempt at flowering. Despite the lack of floriferous growth, the ‘bones’ of this garden is there to be admired.  The garden is peaceful and one can imagine how pretty it must be in late spring or early summer.