Did you know?
The Free State Botanical Gardens there's a petrified tree trunk, estimated between 150 and 300 milion years old.
The Free State Botanical Gardens, located in Bloemfontein, also known as the City of Roses, are dedicated to cultivating and displaying the varied flora of this region. Roses, of course, feature prominently.
These botanical gardens first opened in 1969, and while much of their appeal lies in their floral beauty, these gardens are also of interest to history buffs: the curator's house was built by World War II Italian prisoners of war; the old stone walls were built by British troops during the South African War; and prehistoric pottery relics found in the area are on show in the Education Centre.
But if it's the flora you've come to see, you won't be disappointed. The Free State Botanical Gardens houses over 400 species of plants from the region, including the vibrant red-hot pokers and wild dagga plants for which the province is renowned.
You can see these species and other local flora in the indigenous garden. Other specialised gardens here include the water-wise garden, the medicinal garden, the succulent garden and the bird garden. The latter is a magnet for over 140 bird species.
The Free State Botanical Gardens rest in a woodland valley, framed by hills. Self-guided hiking trails crisscross the landscape and guided tours are also available. There are over 50 species of reptiles in the gardens and almost as many mammal species; look out for them on your wilderness walks.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Free State National Botanical Garden
Tel: +27 (0)51 436 3530
How to get here
Fly direct from any major city to Bloemfontein. If you’re driving, from Johannesburg and Cape Town take the N1 to Bloemfontein, and from Durban take the N3 to Harrismith, and then the N5 to Bloemfontein.
Best time to visit
The Free State Botanical Gardens are open 365 days a year. Operating hours are from 8am to 4.30pm (Monday to Friday), and 8am to 5pm (weekends and public holidays). Spring and autumn are particularly beautiful times to visit.
What will it cost
Adults R16; senior citizens R12; students/scholars R12; pre-schoolers R8.
What to pack
Hat, sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, binoculars and camera.