Phindile Ntenelele

22 January 2024

Trees hold a special place in his heart

Tending to the trees on the estate is Phindile’s favourite task. His love for trees is evident in how he puts his head in his hands just thinking about cutting down a tree!

But when it became necessary to cut back Cape Ash trees for the building of a chapel on Vergenoegd Löw, he used the opportunity to carve knopkieries from the branches. The dictionary will tell you “the ‘knobkerrie’ is a short stick with a knob at the top, traditionally used as a weapon by mostly Zulu and Xhosa tribes,” but in truth, it is used less as a weapon and more for ceremonial purposes. It also serves as a gift to leaders, and a support for the elderly, or self-defence while walking in the veld.

Lately, it has been used as a fashion statement by youngsters, calling it a “swagger stick”. Vergenoegd Löw’s managing director, Corius Visser, also uses it as a handy gift to visitors.

Phindile Ntenelele, the green soul behind Vergenoegd Löw's vibrant landscapes, shares his passion for trees and gardening.

Phindile Ntenelele, the green soul behind Vergenoegd Löw’s vibrant landscapes, shares his passion for trees and gardening. His hands, sculptors of beauty, carve knopkieries from branches, blending tradition, and style.

Phindile moved to Cape Town in 2007 from the Eastern Cape, got a job planting trees, and this is where his love for gardening took seed. He joined the Vergenoegd Löw team in 2017 and is part of a team of three who tends to the gardens on the estate.

“The job that I am doing here: I love it. The people on the farm are happy. I look forward to coming to work every day.”

The man who turns every day into a masterpiece of growth and greenery.

The man who turns every day into a masterpiece of growth and greenery

His day starts at 08:00. The morning is dedicated to clearing and tidying the extensive gardens in front of the visitors’ areas like the Manor House, Clara’s Barn, and Geuwels restaurant.

After a midday break it is general garden maintenance like watering via sprinkling system, depending on the season, lawn cutting, shaping the hedges, and feeding.

“I have seen a big change over the years, not only in the developments on the farm, but also in the working systems.”

He likes to garden at home in Khayelitsha, where he lives with his family. He is a father of two girls, aged six and three. Even on his off-days, he thinks about the gardens at Vergenoegd Löw and what needs to be done.

When Phindile goes back to the Eastern Cape to visit family, he does gardening and likes to show other people what he has learnt.

“One day I might want to open a small business and use all the skills that I have learnt since starting gardening.”