News and Events
SAGIC Honour's Roll 2012 Recipient: Una van der Spuy
Author of 12 books on plants and gardening.
Owner of the famous Old Nectar Homestead and Garden in Stellenbosch.
Una Dorothy van der Spuy was born on 20 July 1912 at East London, South Africa.
Until the age of nine years she lived on a farm in the Stutterheim district. She then started school in King Williams Town (Bisho) and matriculated there in 1928, after which she studied at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, and later with Unisa. Her subjects were Economics and International Politics, with the objective of, at some future date, making a career in politics.
From 1938 to 1941, (during the first part of World War II) she lived in London and experienced the trauma of the bombing, both with incendiaries and high explosives.
She returned to South Africa in 1941 and she and her husband, General K.R. van der Spuy C.B.E., M.C., bought the property Old Nectar, an old Cape Dutch House with a few hectares of ground. As there was no garden she immediately set about trying to create one worthy of the house. In this, despite having no knowledge of plants when she started, she succeeded admirably, as the garden in due course was declared a National Monument, the only private garden to have been thus honoured to date. From 1950 she has opened the garden each spring to raise funds for various charities and it has become well-known and featured in magazines and books in many countries of the world.
Ten years after she arrived at Old Nectar Una started contributing gardening articles to magazines and a few years later she wrote her first book, Gardening in Southern Africa. In order to illustrate her books she learned photography and, over a period oft 12 years, she took about 10 000 pictures of flowers in order to produce pictures of good enough quality to use in the books. For many years she was active in the field of conservation and preservation, particularly with regard to old buildings which were being demolished at an alarming rate.
In 1992 the Cape Tercentenary Foundation made an Award of Merit to her for outstanding services to Conservation in the Cape. Una also received a medal from the Nurserymen's Association for Meritorious Service to Horticulture".
Her latest book, on her favourite plants, will be published soon.
In a months time Una van der Spuy, the legend and inspiration to the Green Industry and gardeners everywhere, will turn 100 years old. In 2012 SAGIC would like to recognize Una for her outstanding contribution to gardening in South Africa, by adding Una van der Spuy to the SAGIC Honour's Roll.