January 2020.

In just two years, a dedicated team at Mirtehof has created a breathtaking oasis in the Karoo. THE HOMEOWNERS Bets Janse van Rensburg and Stevan Möller WHERE Prince Albert in the Karoo SIZE 4.7 hectares TYPE OF SOIL Sandy, clay and rocky (with rocky layers in the subsoil) he first thing that catches your eye is the glorious view.

Then the aromas hit you: star jasmine, gardenia, honeysuckle, alyssum, myrtle, mint and rosemary, followed by the sound of birds twittering, the wind stirring the leaves and water bubbling in the pond. And if you’re lucky enough to stay in the guesthouse, you also get to taste fresh veggies from the garden and fruit from the trees. A visit to the impressive gardens of the historic Mirtehof estate in Prince Albert is a ‘sensory’ experience in every sense of the word. The entire estate is a feast for the eyes but it’s the 2 500m² garden below the manor house and surrounded by low white walls that is so breathtaking. This garden, where plantings began in 2017 once construction of the main house, guesthouse and outbuildings was completed, is a colourful conglomeration of roses, shrubs, flowering plants and veggies, carefully arranged in avenues and on pergolas, between walkways and patios.

Mirtehof, in all its glory, is a long-time dream for owners Dr Bets Janse van Rensburg and her husband Stevan Möller of Bloemfontein. With the help of landscaper Rentia Verster, building contractors Adan Liepner and Neels Swart of Agri Eco Earth, and Karoo plant specialist Sue Dean of Renu-Karoo, they have transformed this 4.7ha smallholding from ordinary to extraordinary.

Someday, Bets and Stevan plan to retire here. “I grew up in the Senekal area of the Free State on a farm full of roses and other flowers,” says Bets. “We often visited Prince Albert as our bond with the town stretches way back to the early 1900s when my great-grandfather, Christiaan Jacobus Bam, was the magistrate here. “We own a house in Market Street, but Stevan and I had always wanted to open a guesthouse.”

By Marlene Malan • Photos Francois Oberholster & Amora Erasmus

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