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Flora Shaw from the London newspaper ‘The Times’ visited the farm in late 1892 and wrote the following about her experience of the Irene Estate: The hill-tops have been planted with European trees – pine, oak, chestnut, etc., the lower slopes are clothed with vines, and in the valleys plantations of oranges and lemons alternate with American, Australian and African timber. There is hardly a crop from tea to turnips which I did not see in the course of a long morning’s drive. Nellmapius was of the opinion that the Highveld had incredibly fertile soil and that it was not being utilised to its full potential, as had been thought possible up until that time. He felt that the soil could yield a greater variety of products, such as wheat, rye, barley and oats, as well as maize, millet and sorghum, all of which were found to thrive in the Highveld soil. The experimental farm became a refuge for Nellmapius, who in the early mornings could be found “tenderly inspecting his young orange trees and carefully going through the immense stables where horses, cows and even wild animals knew him intimately”

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