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EEnjoy a picnic on the large open lawn under the shade of one of the ancient trees. Cycle or run, while watching the activities of canoeists and boaters on the dam. Walk your dog, while taking in the smell of nature when you explore this garden.
The Johannesburg Botanical Garden offers a green space in the middle of an urban area. At its heart is the Emmarentia Dam. The garden itself is a mixture of open spaces that includes marshland, grassland, trees, and cultivated gardens, making it an attractive outdoor recreational space for everyone, including visitors in wheelchairs.
Jogging, cycling and walking dogs along the garden's well-marked tracks are popular activities, along with bird watching and walks through the garden’s evergreen, acacia and podocarp forests.
TThere are trees from all over the world—grown from seed through the garden's global exchange programme with other botanical institutions. Every year some 3000 packets of seeds are exchanged—some rare and endangered.
TThere are a number of special gardens and services within the garden itself, and all are worth exploring.
Take a tour of the Johannesburg Botanical Garden Herbarium, which houses 5532 indigenous and exotic pressed plant species. The seed room, next to the Herbarium, houses seed collections from other Johannesburg City Parks, while the library has 1421 books, 1414 journals and an assortment of pamphlets.
Enjoy the Shakespeare Garden, named so because all the herbs planted there are referred to by Shakespeare in his plays, such as mint, camomile, marjoram and lavender. Each plant is labelled, and includes the quote referring to the particular plant. Look out for the Shakespeare Festival held annually in the garden to celebrate his birthday.
TThe Rose Garden has 10 000 roses! There is also the Herb Garden, Hedge Garden and Arboretum. Designed to look like a desert with a dry river bed, the Succulent Garden has more than 85 species of succulent plants in the garden, from the aloe, euphorbia, emblem, sansevieria and the cactus family.
With plants come birds, and the park is home to many garden birds and waterfowl, which can be fed. Dogs are walked in the northern stretches of the grounds. With its well-marked paved tracks the garden is a firm favourite for runners, and it provides for wonderful scenery. Fishing also takes place from the banks of the dam, while canoeing, sailing and kayaking are practised by the casual and professionals.
It is hard to believe that this green treasure was once a sports field.