Van Loveren has been in the Retief family since 1937 when H P B Retief’s father, who was from Paarl, bought him the land in the Robertson area. In 1939 Hennie married Jean van Zyl.
Throughout the years, Hennie and Jean planted many trees, resulting in the beautiful shady garden you see today.
The Robertson area, being semi-Karoo with an average rainfall of only 250mm per year, is dependent on water from the Breede River and the Brandvlei Dam near Worcester. For 50 weeks of the year Van Loveren receives a constant supply of 60 000 litres of water per hour that reaches the farm by way of a pipeline leading from a canal. This pipeline covers a distance of one kilometre and it starts at a point 15 metres higher than the garden, causing natural pressure of 1,5 bar that forces the water through the fountain, from where it flows into the dam behind the homestead. No pump is therefore required Trees and their stories
Many of the trees were planted to commemorate special occasions, and therefore the Van Loveren garden includes specimens that represent historical events, political figures, eleven grandchildren, head-boys and –girls, graduation ceremonies and other achievements.
We enjoy sharing a few of the more interesting stories with visitors. The trees that belong with these stories are numbered and labeled in green. The others are also identified to make your outing to Van Loveren even more worthwhile.
Pomegranate(Punica Granatum) - Approximately 1930
When Hennie arrived on the farm in 1937, this tree was one of many that formed a sheep-pen next to the homestead. This is the only one that he kept, and it is the oldest and only original tree at Van Loveren
Washingtonia (Washingtonia filifera)
The first tree which Hennie and Jean planted after their wedding in 1939
Norfolk Island Pine (Arancaria Excelsa)
Planted in August 1945 when Japan surrendered after World War II.
New Calidonean Pine (Arancaria Cookii)
Planted in May 1945 when Germany surrendered.
Rhus Lancea (Kareeboom)
Early in the Forties Jean wrote to a nursery in Natal, requesting a hardy tree. When the tiny specimen, costing 1/6 arrived at the Klaasvoogds railwaystation, the farmers, who also collected their mail at the station, were all convinced that it was the, to them, well-known karree. Jean, however, insisted that it was a Rhus Lancea. Hennie promptly fetched a karree branch from the river and planted it next to Jean’s Rhus lancea. Over the years the two karrees have become intertwined, since neither Jean nor Hennie would remove the one that either of them had planted. Jean always says she sees the trees as a symbol of Hennie and herself.
Bottle-brush (Callistemon saliquus)
In 1949, Wynand, Jean’s younger son, was only four years old when he jumped from a pig-sty and landed in a spike-thorn. He contracted osteomyelitis and became quite ill. Since both he and his mother cried so much at the time, his grandmother gave Jean this “weeping bottle-brush”.
Cork Oak (Quercus suber)
Jean and Hennie planted this tree with the birth of the Republic in 1961, but during the 1980’s it toppled over. Nico pushed a support under it and today it is still growing beautifully. Ouma Jean, being rather superstitious, was quite worried about the “Fall of the Republic”.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Jean planted this tree in 1967 during the Six Day War, thereby expressing the empathy she felt for her many Jewish friends.
Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica)
After F W de Klerk, the then State President, had made his speech in Parliament on 2 February 1990, with such dramatic results, Jean planted this tree for him. The two roses under the tree were planted to commemorate the Nobel Peace Prize that he and Nelson Mandela had received jointly. The Peace of Vereeniging for De Klerk and the Black Madonna for Mandela.
Traveller’s Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis)
When three of her grandsons turned twenty-one, Jean planted one of these palms for each of them next to the cellar, below the gable, with the wish that they would travel the world.
Reach for the Sky (Schizolobium parahybun)
Since 1990, the four Retief grandsons have all joined their fathers, Nico and Wynand, at Van Loveren. As each of them finished his studies at Stellenbosch, their grandmother, Jean planted one of these trees at the wine tasting area, since she believes that for them the sky is the limit.
Leopard tree (Brazilian ironwood – Caesalpinia Ferren)
This was planted for Nelson Mandela when he became President of South Africa in 1994. There are larger examples in the rest of the garden.