Thursday, September 8, 2011

The 'Big Five' Trees of Vergelegen Estate

‘Vergelegen’ is the Dutch word for ‘far flung’ and refers to the position of Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West which, in the 1700’s, was right on the edge of the Dutch colony in the Cape.

In 1700 this magnificent estate was settled by the Governor of the Cape at that time, namely Willem Adriaan van der Stel. He set about bringing this large tract of land into production as well as building a lovely farmstead and, amongst other things, planting 5 superb Camphor trees (Cinnamonum camphora) on the estate.

To achieve all this, he used, unwisely, resources as well as slaves from the Dutch East India Company without prior permission from the Netherlands, with the result that in 1706 the free burghers complained to the authorities about his illicit activities.

Predictably this led to his dismissal as Governor, and in 1708 he was recalled to the Netherlands which was followed by orders from Amsterdam to destroy the entire estate. Whoever was given this unfortunate task was not very thorough and although the farmstead and other parts of the estate were destroyed some areas were fortunately left untouched.

Among these are the octagonal walled garden and the 5 magnificent Camphor trees that are now over 300 years old and are named as ‘Champion Trees’ under the National Forests Act.

After having a succession of owners the estate was restored to it’s former glory by Lady Florence Phillips whose husband bought the estate for her in 1917. The beautiful homestead you see there today was built at the beginning of the 20th century. After the Phillips couples death, the estate was purchased by the Barlow family in 1941 and they were as dedicated to maintaining the estate’s tradition as the former owners were.

Anglo American has owned the estate since 1987 and today, Vergelegen is renowned worldwide for their superb wines as well as being an outstanding tourist destination.

Why not make a booking to have a picnic in the Camphor forest and spend some quality time absorbing the history and the majesty of the magnificent ‘Big Five’ Camphor trees of Vergelegen Estate.

September is Here and its Arbor Month Again!

In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983 and was an event intended to raise public awareness as to the value of trees within the environment. In 1999 the government extended Arbor Day to National Arbor Week, which is celebrated annually from 1 to 7 September and since then - September has been recognised as being Arbor Month.

Every year, Arbor Month features two specific trees, namely one common and one rare species.

For 2011, these two trees are:-

Common:    Jacket-plum or Doppruim (Pappea capensis)
Rare:           Bride's Bushes or Bruidsbome Genus Pavetta
                    Common Wild Elder or Gewone Wildevlier (Nuxia congesta)

Help us celebrate Arbor Month this year by planting at least one tree - whether this be a donated specimen to an underprivileged community, or even a memorial tree within your own garden.


TreeCo will donate 5 x 50 ltr Cape ash to anybody that plants 50 trees with proof this week. No matter how small the trees are that you plant. So help us donate and add to everybody's cause. P.S. Trees will be donated to a school in Wellington. So come and do it

Fresh New Look - More 200kg Trees - Ready for SPRING!

As many of you already know, TreeCo has recently upgraded the nursery to include a far wider selection of indigenous trees within the popular 200kg size.

Not only that, our selection of really big trees - 1000kg and 2000kg trees has been extended substantially.

Spring has most definitely sprung and the nursery is looking spectacular, with new leaves budding on many of the trees. Why not come visit us to see some of the new stock and see what special offers we are able to give you for your next landscaping project.

With so much to choose from and our promise for quick turn-around time from order to delivery, our favourable tree prices are just one of the reasons why TreeCo has become the big tree stockist of choice for so many landscapers.

Take a look at the photo's in our 'TreeCo Big Tree Gallery' by clicking on the button below to see some of our new stock beds, and we look forward to welcoming you for a tour around the nursery.
The TreeCo Big Tree Gallery!
Have you seen our range of beautiful big trees? Our stock levels and range of trees has grown enormously in the last few years and we invite you to not only click on the button below to view some photo's of them, but to pop in to the nursery and see them for yourself. If you are looking for sudden impact - look no further that TreeCo for your big trees!

TreeCo Big Tree Gallery - September 2011


Has YOUR landscape been TREECO'ed?
TreeCo has developed an extemely loyal group of clients who have come to rely on us for the quality and unique character of our trees. Whether you plant one of our 50lt or 1000lt trees, you can be assured that we have taken every measure to ensure that the specimen you invest in, has the best possible chance of survival within your landscape. Our quality translates directly to your image as a professional landscaper, which is a responsibility we take very seriously.
Beyond the quality of our trees lies the all important environmental aspect relating to how our trees are produced and cared for. We do not use harmful pesticides or chemical fertilisers and our trees are encouraged to grow at a natural rate and to a natural shape, so not only are our trees are genuinely stronger and healthier, you know that you are supporting an organisation that is continually taking active steps to reduce our carbon footprint.
When we ask 'Has YOUR landscape been TREECO'ed'?, what we really mean to ask is 'Have you used the best quality trees, produced by an environmentally responsible company to green your world'?

Monthly Tree Special and Availability List - September 2011

Although we have many tree species at our nursery that are looking spectacular at any given time, we feature just one tree in particular every month that we know will offer you the best value for money and that will add that special touch to your landscape project.
We have a few really huge Harpephyllum caffrum in stock that will create a superb instant impact. These lovely medium to large, semi-deciduous trees have an attractive dense, spreading crown with compound leaves that are characteristically grouped towards the tips of the branches. This popular member of the mango family bears insignificant flowers but the bright red, 20-30mm long fruit look extremely showy making this an excellent tree for the home garden, parks and streets. The Wild plum prefers an open position in full sun and once established it will endure droughts as well as the scorching salt laden winds from the sea.
Botanical Name
Harpephyllum caffrum 
Common Name                Wild Plum
Bag Size 2000kg
Quantity Available 5
Average Tree Height
& Trunk Thickness
Should you require any further information, such as pricing details or should you wish to place an order, please contact Rudi on 082 829 5543 or Leske on 072 385 0270. Alternatively you are welcome to email us with your enquiry at
Availability List for September 2011

TreeCo provides our readers with a downloadable, updated Availability List every month. 

Please note that should you not find the tree that you are looking for on this list, TreeCo will readily source what you require, on your behalf. Rudi and Leske Neethling personally ensure that all trees supplied by TreeCo, conform to our high quality standards.
Please CLICK HERE to download our latest Availability List.

Rothmannia capensis (Cape Gardenia)

The well shaped Rothmannia capensis must be one of the loveliest indigenous garden trees. This fairly small tree is as beautiful as the exotic gardenias when in flower, and the heady, sweet scent of the flowers remains, even when they have been dried. Although the Cape gardenia is not frost hardy, it will do well almost anywhere provided it is given some protection in very cold areas and is adequately watered in very dry or hot weather. The round, green fruits are edible but not very tasty, they are however relished by baboons, vervet and samango monkeys as well as bushpigs, bushbuck and duiker. When soft and ripe the fruit also attract a variety of fruit-eating birds.
Botanical Name
Rothmannia capensis
Common Name
Cape gardenia
RSA National Tree No’
The delightful Rothmannia capensis is suitable for even the smallest garden as it has a completely non-invasive root system and can be kept neatly trimmed where space is at a premium. The sweet, heady scent of the charming trumpet shaped flowers will permeate the garden on warm summer days and the lingering fragrance will enhance lazy summer evenings on the patio. Plant the gorgeous Cape gardenia as a specimen or, for a truly stunning effect, plant a grove of these beautiful small trees where their lovely shape and showy fragrant flowers can be most appreciated. Whether you are looking for a truly rewarding small tree for a large landscaping project or for a tiny townhouse garden, Rothmannia capensis is well worth considering.
5 – 10 m
3 m
Growth Habit
Rothmannia capensis grows naturally from sea level up to 1600metres and can be found in evergreen forest, wooded ravines, and on rocky ridges.
The bark on young branches is smooth grey-brown while older bark is dark brown and rough with fine cracks, allowing the pink under bark to show through.
The leathery, elliptic, glossy green leaves are approximately 100 x 40 mm and are crowded at the ends of the branchlets. The hairless leaves are darker on top and lighter underneath with some lateral veins on both leaf surfaces. The leaf margins are entire and slightly wavy with four small swellings at the leaf axils. 
The creamy-white, sweetly scented, bell shaped flowers are about 8 cm long with maroon streaks and speckles inside the flower tube. The flowers appear from December to February.
The 60 -70 mm diameter, round green fruit succeeds the flowers. The skin of the fruit is smooth, ribbed and leathery, becoming soft when mature.
A profusion of flat seeds are distributed by wildlife that feed on the soft, ripe fruit.
Growing regions
Rothmannia capensis is widespread from the southern Cape up along the coast to northern Kwa-Zulu Natal as well as Mpumalanga and the southern and western parts of Gauteng.
Growing conditions
The Cape gardenia prefers a sunny position with some protection from frost. Plant it in a large hole in well drained soil to which plenty of compost and bone meal have been added. Water regularly.
Best season
Rothmannia capensis should be protected from frost and should be given adequate amounts of water.
The seeds germinate easily when planted in a standard seedling mixture and should be kept damp. Plant into pots when the proper leaves have formed.
Growth rate
The Cape gardenia will develop relatively quickly, about 500 mm – 1 metre per year if well cared for.
The wood of Rothmannia capensis is hard yet pliable and is widely used for household utensils such as spoons and cooking sticks for porridge as well as implement handles. The powdered roots are used to treat rheumatism and leprosy being rubbed into incisions in the skin over affected parts. The juice of the fruit stains blue and when heated is applied to wounds to facilitate healing. Burning roots also assist in the healing process when affected parts are held over the smoke.
             R. capensis Flower Bud      R. capensis Leaves and Fruit         R. capensis Flower