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Book review: The Garden of Babylonstoren by Franchesca Watson and Heidi Bertish

Heidi Bertish

Often likened to the biblical Garden of Eden, Babylonstoren is more than just a farm: it is a sustainable wonderland infused with charm, personality and history. And now, with the release of The Garden of Babylonstoren, you needn’t head to the Drakenstein Valley of the Cape Winelands to see it. As the book’s foreword so succinctly puts it, ‘This visually stunning tribute covers every aspect of the 3.5ha garden: its design, Cape Dutch history, plants, cultivation methods and the people behind it all.’

The Garden of Babylonstoren smallImages credit: Heidi Bertish

Book review: The Garden of Babylonstoren by Franchesca Watson and Heidi Bertish

babylonstoren mountainThe Garden of Babylonstoren begins with a brief history of the land and farm, outlining how it has adapted to environmental changes and evolved since it was first granted to Dutch burgher Pieter van der Byl in 1692. Author Franchesca Watson eloquently describes the efforts that went into making the farm the Babylonstoren we know and love today, providing insight, clarity and lesser-known facts that help paint a picture of the garden as a whole. But much like Babylonstoren itself, the visuals throughout The Garden of Babylonstoren speak for themselves, and photographer Heidi Bertish has captured the pure essence of this magical place in over 150 spellbinding images. From the produce grown and livestock kept to the Cape Dutch architecture and experts who nourish the land, every aspect of the farm has been covered in beautiful and glorious detail. ‘We grow with our garden – we cultivate the ground, plants and ourselves,’ says Babylonstoren’s head gardener Liesel van der Walt, and we have no doubt that The Garden of Babylonstoren will encourage new growth in all who read it. The Garden of Babylonstoren by Franchesca Watson and Heidi Bertish (Struik Lifestyle, an imprint of Penguin Random House South Africa; RRP R400) is available at all leading bookstores.