Embark on a floral journey of discovery at the Pretoria National Botanical Garden, a treasure chest of South African flowering plant species and trees and definitely among the more beautiful of the tourist attractions in South Africa.
The Pretoria National Botanical Garden, located in the suburb of Brummeria in east Tshwane, was established in 1946 after the University of Pretoria’s experimental farm and private properties were acquired by the Department of Agriculture. The garden was formerly known as the Transvaal National Botanic Gardens, and was primarily a research facility under the management of the Botanical Research Institute, which dates back to 1903.
In 1989 the institute amalgamated with the National Botanical Garden of South Africa (Kirstenbosch) to form the National Botanical Institute, which became the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in 2004. The Pretoria National Botanical Garden opened to the public in 1984.
Flora and fauna
A 35 metre high natural quartzite outcrop divides the garden into two sections, a cool south-facing section and warm north-facing section, each of which sustains different floral varietals, in man-made biomes. Paved nature trails traverse the ridge, passing by a small waterfall along the way, as you walk up the short but steep incline under the shade of fragrant trees, impressive cycads and other natural ridge vegetation line the path.
When looking for things to do in Gauteng, you'd do well to remember that so many of these things can be done in one amazing location, at these gardens.
No matter what time of year you visit there are always wonderful flowers and plants to enjoy such as the colourful mesembs (also called vygies) from the Karoo desert with their brilliant, shimmering flowers of red, mauve, pink, orange and white or the west coast Namaqualand daisies which add splashes of orange and white. On the quartzite ridge, Magalies plane (Ochna pretoriensis) and peeling plane (Ochna pulchra) burst into masses of yellow flowers, and the thorny acacia species sport fluffy scented flowers, while along the pathways near the tea garden you’ll find broad bands of colourful clivias and September bells (Rothmannia globosa) characterised by their large, scented, creamy white bell-shaped flowers.
Although the focus of the garden is on flora, this great bounty of plants has attracted around 200 bird species, as well as reptiles and small mammals such as dassies, grey duiker and scrub hares.
Attractions for visitors
In recent years a number of new facilities have been added to the garden for the added enjoyment of the many visitors on weekend getaways in Gauteng who come to spend their weekends strolling through the nature trails and relaxing on the manicured lawns. These include a visitor’s centre, the Eco Craft Gift Shop, an environmental education centre, concert stage, tea garden and the Mokha restaurant. With a scenic deck overlooking a small wetland area, Mokha is a particularly popular lunch venue and also caters for functions such as weddings and other celebrations.
Large tour groups are welcome at the garden, where plenty of parking is available for buses and disabled access is provided. Guided walks of the medicinal garden can be arranged for up to 20 people at a time.
The gardens are open every day of the year from 8am to 6pm. No entry is permitted after 5pm.
The shop is open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays, and from 1pm to 5pm on Sundays.
The Mokha restaurant is open seven days a week.
- Adults: R22
- Students: R12
- Children over six: R8
- Children under six: free
- Pensioners have free entry on Tuesdays