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Kings Walden

Kings Walden Garden is an historic garden set in soft green hills above the sub-tropical town of Tzaneen in the Limpopo province.

Famed for its romantic spirit and dramatic views of the northern Drakensberg Mountains, Kings Walden Garden forms part of a charming, century-old heritage guesthouse that offers elegant accommodation, champagne picnics and gourmet dinners.

In the 1930s a beautiful young woman stood spellbound at these same mountain views and said to the man beside her, "I never want to leave". He was the owner of the land and the view. "Marry me", he replied, "and you will never have to." Elsie Tooley did just that – and went on to create the original Kings Walden Garden.

Many years later, on the night Elsie Tooley died, lightning struck the giant blue gum tree from under which she had first been seduced by the glorious view. It still stands today, bone white and dramatic, a symbol of Kings Walden’s magical romantic spirit and history. The lightning tree is much admired and photographed, and is featured in Thomas Packenham’s book Remarkable Trees of the World.

From the lightning tree, a series of quiet paths and walkways lead to different parts of the garden, past trickling fountains, ornamental ponds, secret gardens and various water features. You can explore white gardens filled with iceberg roses, azaleas, camellias and zebra grass. Or sit awhile in the cool sunken garden, which has a small pool surrounded by giant tree ferns and lilies.

There is a formal Italian-style rose garden, with trellises and columns, whitewashed statues and mirrors, where the resident monkeys like to preen themselves. At the heart of Kings Walden Garden is an ornamental lake, the Bibigar or 'place of spirits'. The lake is guarded by a pair of giant concrete sphinxes, whose nipples, it is said, you should rub for good luck.