Johannesburg Botanical Gardens and Emmarentia Dam

Just 6km from Johannesburg’s city centre, Emmarentia Dam and the surrounding botanical gardens provide an open space and recreational area for Joburgers and visitors alike. A popular weekend picnicking site, the park is touted as one of the best places in the city to walk your dog, jog or ride a bike.

Johannesburg Botanical Gardens has seven distinct gardens:  the Herb Garden, the Hedge Garden, the Succulent Garden, the Shakespeare Garden, the Rose Garden, the Chapel Garden and the Arboretum (a collection composed exclusively of trees).

The Herb Garden contains aromatic plants which have medicinal benefits, culinary uses and cosmetic purposes. The Hedge Garden consists of 58 species of hedges, and the Succulent garden, which may be visited only by appointment, is planted with more than 2 500 species.

The Shakespeare Garden features herbs which the 16th century playwright referred to in his works.  Adjacent to the Shakespeare Garden lays the Rose Garden which is planted with over 4500 rose bushes. To the east of the Rose Garden lays the Chapel Garden, which is often used by bridal parties for wedding photography.

Portion of the Rose Garden in the Johannesburg Botanical Garden. Photo courtesy of d’Urban

The Arboretum has a variety of indigenous and exotic trees, including Californian Redwoods, silver birches and English oaks.

In the north-east of the garden lies Emmarentia Dam which is fed by two smaller dams within the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens.

Dam and facilities
Emmarentia Dam spans 7.5-hectares, an area which makes it ideal for water sports such as canoeing and sailing small boats. There are club facilities on the eastern embankment, and birdwatchers can see geese, dabchicks, moorhens and other waterfowl.

Emmarentia Dam is fed by two other dams which also lie in the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. 

The small café near the main entrance on Olifants Road serves light meals and refreshments but home-packed picnic baskets are welcome.

Safe parking from different access points in Thomas Bowler, Orange and The Braids roads.

Historical background

Johannesburg Botanical Gardens dates back 1866. The farm “Braamfontein” was owned by the Geldenhuys family, who contracted landless Boers to build the main dam after the South African War. The dam was named after Louw Geldenhys’s wife, Emmarentia.  The gardens were founded around this time too, so the 30 000 trees found within are well-established.

A map of the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens is available here.

Visiting hours
Sunrise – Sunset