St Joseph’s “keeps them smiling” as their inclusive play park shows that playing is for everyone

Pledge R86 for 86 years of making a difference!

St Joseph’s Home’s unique inclusive play park for its young patients is currently in focus in the DSTV ad campaign to kick off the “Keep them smiling” summer campaign. The all-new play park that has been specially customised for children with disabilities has added a new dimension to the care and rehabilitation that vulnerable children facing life-limiting conditions receive at the 175-bed paediatric intermediate facility in their journey to recovery.

In fact, St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children in Cape Town has been providing 24-hour specialised and general nursing care, as well as rehabilitation for children with life-threating and life-limiting conditions for 86 years and the amount of R86 will help them continue to provide the free care to the medically fragile children.

“Although we are sometimes mistaken for an orphanage, we are a fully fledged, multidisciplinary paediatric facility,” explains Christa Robijn, St Joseph’s Resource Development Manager, adding, “we not only provide 24-hour nursing care, but holistic care and support in the form of occupational therapy, dietetics, social work, physio, speech therapy and educational support. Our little ones may be on the road to recovery, but they are still children. Just like other children, these kids deserve all the love, care and, of course fun, we can provide”.

Online campaigns
Despite the continued challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, St Joseph’s has had a very busy year with a lot of its fundraising activities moving online, such as the Happy Nappy Drive (June to August) and the ongoing Stellenberg Gardens Virtual Tour, which so far has raised more than R100 000 for the home and its special, young patients.

The current “Keep them smiling” summer campaign is aimed at raising funds for the home and partnering with retailers, manufacturers and suppliers of baby and children’s products. Says Christa Robijn: “With the launch of our summer campaign, we aim to raise R300 000 to help us fill the gap that comes with stocking up on summer supplies, such as baby toiletries, summer shoes and clothes, arts and craft supplies and toys, to name a few.”

She adds: “For 86 years, St Joseph’s Home has been giving medically fragile children a second chance at childhood. Our multi-disciplinary, intermediate services are offered at no cost to our patients and their families, so we appeal to the public to help us keep doing the good work by donating R86 for 86 years of St Joseph’s holistic care. We believe in second chances and know our supporters do too.”

Donate via:
– The St Joseph’s Home website:
– SnapScan:
– Webtickets:

The power of playing: Seriously good fun!
The new inclusive play park at St Joseph’s Home’s that was opened recently was designed from scratch to enable all the children at the facility to have the opportunity to explore, learn and play; but most of all, to relax, laugh and enjoy themselves outside in the fresh air.

“Play is for everyone,” says St Joseph’s CEO, Christelle Cornelius. “It is essential to children’s development, shaping the way they interact with the world around them. It enables them to learn new skills, make friends and build self-confidence. Play also gives children opportunities to take risks and challenges. We are beyond excited and grateful to see how much our children enjoy their new playground.”

The design of the play park and its features was a collaboration between Square One architects, Afrilandscape and the clinical and therapy team at St Joseph’s, as well as specialists in the field of inclusive equipment. Unique features are a wheelchair-friendly swing, a rope net swing for patients with limited physical abilities and play surfaces that are safe and supportive.

“We embraced our brief to provide a diverse play environment as an enticing escape from the children’s wards and adjacent school” explains Hugo van Niekerk, professional landscape architect at Square One. “Knowing the hardships the patients are faced with daily, we set out to create a playground that can be enjoyed by all children by incorporating multi-functional, universally accessible play spaces that allow children to connect with nature.”

And the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating! St Joseph’s young patients are loving their new, colourful and multifaceted playground in their own backyard.

St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children
Located in Montana, Cape Town, and established in 1935 by the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, this beacon in paediatric care in Southern Africa has provided expert and hands-on nursing and rehabilitation for over 23 000 orphaned and vulnerable children.

Facebook: @stjosephshome

Contact information:

Content marketing manager: Melissa Ndlovu
Tel: +27 21 934 0352

Stellenberg’s history and gardens: The Ovenstones tell us more about their magical home

Stellenberg homestead

The Stellenberg homestead

More than R80 000 has been raised for St Joseph’s to date by the virtual tour of the Stellenberg Gardens. Since 2015, Stellenberg Gardens in Cape Town has held Open Weekends in aid of St Joseph’s. However, due to the pandemic the gardens have not been open to the public for some time and the virtual tour was launched to enable the fundraising to continue online.

Andrew and Sandy Ovenstone tell us more about Stellenberg’s history and the gardens.

Some history about the Stellenberg property.
The origins of the Stellenberg estate date back to the seventeenth century and early owners under Dutch rule included Francois van der Stel, son of Simon van der Stel, the first governor of the Cape. Jan de Wit and his son Petrus owned the estate from from 1742 to 1767, and built the present manor house. The arrival of the British in 1806 marked the beginning of more than a century under direct British rule and understandably, British influence increased at the Cape and the Regency and Victorian styles started to supersede the local Cape Dutch buildings, which became dated, and even dilapidated. However, Stellenberg was maintained to the highest standards of authentic Cape Dutch style by subsequent owners.

Stellenberg old manor house

Stellenberg’s old manor house

When the Ovenstone family came to Stellenberg in 1953 they found classical Dutch architecture, already featured in books and paintings and gardens fashionable in the 1930s and 1940s: The original werf or square with its well and surrounding 18th century buildings, old walls, benches, and bridges. This was also the beginning of a period during which the restoration of Old Cape Dutch and Cape Regency buildings was encouraged. And to this end, some, including Stellenberg, were given national monument, now the Heritage status.

Andrew and Sandy Ovenstone returned to Stellenberg in 1973. After undertaking the restoration of an important outbuilding, which had been damaged by fire in 1971, Sandy understood that she did not have a blank canvas on which to redesign the garden, which at the time comprised lawns, English Oaks, rows of Hydrangeas and a large shrubbery with mature trees. She took her time, and only made minor changes for more than a decade, until she felt ready to embark on her garden story, by which time there was no doubt that she would use what was there as central to her design ideas.

Today, after some 48 years of hard work and dedication by the Ovenstones and their staff, incorporating a variety of ideas and inspiration, drawn from Andrew’s Scottish heritage and gardens in England, France and Italy which they visited frequently. There are 16 distinct areas in the gardens, namely the Garden Entrance, the White Garden, the Parterre Garden, the Vegetable Garden, the Garden of Paradise, the Herb Garden, the Shady Walkway, the main lawns and façade, the Wild Garden, the Upper-Stream Garden, Lower-Stream Garden, the Lime Tree Walk, the Garden of Reflection, the Vine Walk allée, the Walled Garden and the Pool Garden.

The Stellenberg Garden Plan

The Stellenberg Garden Plan

Where did the idea of opening up the gardens come from? How many people have visited the gardens over the years?
A: We opened the gardens for charity in 1991, and were amazed to receive over 400 visitors to our first open week end. Since then the gardens have been open for charity every year until COVID’s intervention. Based on ticket sales, and an estimate of accompanying children who do not pay, approximately 2000 people now visit the garden over an open week end in favourable weather.

What part of the gardens is your favourite for either of you and why?
A: I am sure that Sandy would say that her gardens are like her grandchildren. She loves them all equally. My favourite sections are the stream gardens, quite masculine, and wild but with enough continuity and structure. In the winter the stream gardens are at their best, while the walled garden becomes different, but Sandy loves its structure and the bare soil duly mulched in most of the planted sections.

How important are water and colour to the design of the gardens?
A: Colour and water are both important. Sandy has moved from bright colours to shades of green and white in some sections, with shades of green and blue in the pool garden, and brighter colours with shades of green in the walled garden. Eleven ponds or water features including the stream speak for the importance of water in the gardens. Sandy finds the sound of water calming.

How did you manage during the drought that we had in Cape Town a few years ago?
A: The drought was difficult. Even the old wells could not cope. Historically, parts of Stellenberg, including what are now the impressive Arderne Gardens, were known as the Stellenberg marsh. A high water table results in the gardens being wetter than normal in winter and not as dry in winter. We resolved not to change the design of the gardens but to improve the efficiency of our irrigation practice with less daytime irrigation and more computerized night time watering, and to let the lawns take the strain.

Tell us more about your staff and their contribution to keeping everything so beautiful, especially during the pandemic?
A: We pay tribute to the dedication of our staff in the video. They all make a contribution, as do our regular contractors who maintain the property and the houses thereon. We like to believe that with time, they become skilled enough to more than hold their own anywhere.

Where did the idea of a virtual tour come from and who produced the beautiful video for you?
A: We thought about two things, namely, the motivation of our gardeners in the absence of visitors, and our inability to contribute as meaningfully to our charity, St Joseph’s Home, in the COVID-19 environment. The stress in managing the manor house and the gardens with one person, our senior gardener, Jonas, who quarantined here, for four months was great. We decided to make the video as a project to encourage all of us in a creative rather than a financial sense.

The production was done by PMC Films, Popcorn Post Production, Ignition Design and Juice Audio.

How long have you been supporters of St Joseph’s and what about this organisation made you decide to contribute this way?
A: St Joseph’s has been our chosen charitable organisation since 2015.

Anything you would like to add?
A: What were known as the Claremont Public Gardens, now the Arderne Gardens, were originally created by Ralph Arderne on land bought from the then owners of Stellenberg in 1845. These Public Gardens serve all our communities, and have several champion trees, and other areas of interest, including a restored wetland area and Gingko trees directly descended from trees which survived the horrific nuclear bombing of Hiroshima at the end of WW2.

We support the Friends of Arderne Gardens, (FOTAG) without whose work the gardens would be neither as safe nor as well maintained, and encourage our visitors to also visit the Arderne Gardens, or to join one of their regular guided tours.

Stellenberg's White Garden

The White Garden

The Vegetable Garden at Stellenberg

The Vegetable Garden


The annual Stellenberg Garden Tour has gone virtual for St Joseph’s Home!

Beauty and history at its best for a great cause!

The annual open weekends of the Stellenberg Gardens in Cape Town have gone virtual and currently everyone can enjoy these spectacular grounds from the comfort and safety of their homes and contribute to a great cause at the same time.

Since 2015, the Stellenberg Gardens, the home of Andrew and Sandy Ovenstone, have held Open Weekends in aid of St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children, a paediatric care facility giving children with life threatening illness a second chance at childhood.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not been able to share the beauty of their gardens to raise funds for St Joseph’s Home. Like many charities, COVID-19 has negatively impacted the operations at St Joseph’s who rely on donations to provide free 24-hour specialised and general nursing care and rehabilitation to those who need it most.

Stellenberg Gardens Virtual Tour

Click here for the Stellenberg Gardens Virtual Tour

Magical garden and history

St Joseph’s is very excited and grateful that a beautiful video has been made of the Stellenberg Gardens to enable anyone to visit by way of a virtual garden tour! It can be viewed on the GivenGain fundraising platform where donations can easily be made in aid of St Joseph’s. Thanks to donations from the many virtual visitors to the gardens, more than R80 000 has been raised for St Joseph’s to date.

The origins of the Stellenberg estate date back to the seventeenth century and Sandy Ovenstone and her dedicated team of gardeners have created a magical garden in harmony with the historical homestead that is unique in South Africa.

There are 16 distinct areas in the gardens, namely the Garden Entrance, the White Garden, the Parterre Garden, the Vegetable Garden, the Garden of Paradise, the Herb Garden, the Shady Walkway, the main lawns and façade, the Wild Garden and reservoir walk, the Stream Garden, Lower-Stream Garden, the Lime Tree Walk, the Garden of Reflection, the Vine Walk allée, the Walled Garden and the Pool Garden.

Join them for a leisurely and inspiring stroll through these magnificent gardens by viewing the virtual tour here:

The video can also be viewed via the Stellenberg Gardens website at: by clicking on “Virtual Tour” and there is a donate button that links to the GivenGain fundraising page. All funds raised are carefully monitored and faithfully distributed.

To learn more about the history and the magic of Stellenberg and its gardens, read this interview with Andrew and Sandy Ovenstone on the St Joseph’s Home website. Click here.

St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children

Up to 500 children a year are looked after by St Joseph’s Home. A well-loved institution in Cape Town, it has provided post-acute, rehabilitative, restorative and palliative intermediate care for children with chronic life-limiting or life-threatening conditions for the last 85 years. The holistic, multi-disciplinary and family-centred intermediate care model further supports the children in their educational and psycho-social needs.

Located in Montana, Cape Town, and established in 1935 by the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, this 175 -bed beacon in paediatric care in Southern Africa has provided 24-hour general and specialised nursing care and rehabilitation therapy for over 23 000 medically vulnerable children. The most prevalent conditions treated are infectious diseases, neurology, malnutrition and trauma related injuries.

If you are interested in supporting this and other projects for St Joseph’s, there is more information here:


Christa Robijn
Resource development manager, St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children
Tel. +27 21 934 0352

Stellenberg walled garden

The Walled Garden

The Stellenberg Garden Plan

The Stellenberg Garden Plan

Stellenberg's White Garden

The White Garden

The old manor house at Stellenberg

The old manor house at Stellenberg

The Vegetable Garden at Stellenberg

The Vegetable Garden