A hotel’s garden can be a huge drawcard – it’s a sensory escape, a place for guests to relax and unwind. Catherine Schulze, General Manager of the Steenberg Hotel & Spa, has been at the helm of the property for over a decade and the extensive garden surrounding the original 17th century building is one of her passions.
Catherine uses the year round supply of colourful blooms and fresh greenery that come from the garden to welcome guests into the different spaces with personalised arrangements in the suites, rooms and spa.
“Freshly picked flowers are beautiful, reflecting the season and care with which the garden was created and nurtured. Anything intentionally done purely for the absolute pleasure of our guests I believe is felt at a deeper level, so handpicked blooms from the garden arranged with love will always outweigh a store-bought arrangement.”
The white washed buildings surrounding the werf are framed by beds of flowers. “As a hotel on a farm, things need to feel natural and not overly orchestrated so that our guests feel that the gardens are in harmony with the scale of the buildings, within their vineyard setting and the magnificent Constantia Valley, but are still intimate and interesting enough for them to feel at home.” explains Catherine.
One of the flowers that has become synonymous with Steenberg is the perennial, deep purple Salvia Leucantha, also known as Mexican Bush Sage, which has featured as a backdrop for many of memorable moments at the property and blooms from spring to autumn. “The beauty of salvia is not only its striking deep purple hue, but its velvet texture too is unmistakable, and at the start of a new day, the morning dew clings to every bloom glistening in the early morning light,” she adds.
The property also features a wide variety of roses, some of which are reminders of people who were dear to Steenberg, as well as plum and nectarine trees. These are planted behind the formal garden and was inspired by Catherine’s visit to her family farm. “They had formed such a beautiful arrangement in my home, that I wanted to recreate this seasonal treat of blossoms for our guests,” she says.
In the shade of an oak tree, Catherine has also created a small, private, scented garden for spa guests to enjoy while having outdoor treatments. The garden includes gardenias, pennyroyals, sweet viburnum, lavender and citrus, which are imbued with the fresh bouquet garni of fragrant herbs from the adjacent herb garden.
“Our gardens at Steenberg have been influenced and shaped by the contributions of our guests. Many have shared their knowledge, and ideas from their own gardens to enhance their favourite corner or bed. It is lovely to walk through in the quiet of the morning, before the day begins, and reflect on the richness of collaboration that the garden represents, knowing that some of our ideas have taken root in their gardens too.”