SA's secret gardens: Here are 7 to visit this winter

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden boast the aloe species that grow as high as eight meters. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden boast the aloe species that grow as high as eight meters. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 28, 2021


Candide, the free gardening app that connects green lovers across South Africa, has put together a list of gardens to visit this winter.

Here are some suggestions:

The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, Gauteng

Here, you will find one indigenous cactus - Rhipsalis baccifera.

"This plant doesn’t look anything like most people’s idea of a cactus. It doesn’t even have proper spikes, just clusters of harmless hairy spines," said Candide’s Country Manager, Roné de Bruyn.

Winter also brings an abundance of blooming aloes, strelitzias and orchids to the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. Visitors can also enjoy the Shakespeare, Rose and Herb Gardens, the Hedge Demonstration Garden and the main arboretum. Located at Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg. Call 011 712 6600.

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, Gauteng

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden boasts aloe species that grow as high as eight meters, and the flowering Hypoestes Aristata, also known as ribbon bush or purple haze. A nature reserve, the garden has a geological trail that visitors can enjoy where they’ll be privy to magnificent proteas, including the Protea roupelliae, “Silver Mountain Sugarbush”, Protea welwitchii, “Dwarf Sugarbush.” Also, spot the White-bellied Sunbird, Black-chested Prinia, Streaky-headed Seedeater, or the pair of Verreaux’s Eagles that nest on the cliffs near the 70m Witpoortjie Waterfall. Located at Malcolm Road, Poortview, Roodepoort.

The Free State National Botanical Garden, Free State

You’ll be awestruck by the bright red and orange aloes, fruit from the buffalo thorn and red-berry mistletoe at the Free State National Botanical Garden, which becomes highly colourful in the winter months, in glorious contrast to its natural, tall grassland and woodland. Guests can visit the Succulent Garden or get up close with the treasured Champion Tree, an old wild olive called The Old Man of The Garden, thought to be over 200 years old.

"The garden is designed in the shape of South Africa’s outline, complete with its nine provinces and also boasts masses of yellow-green karee tree flowers and the soft grey-green of kiepersols or cabbage-trees at this time of year," said de Bruyn. Located at Rayton Road, Dan Pienaar, Bloemfontein.

Durban Botanic Gardens, KwaZulu-Natal

Durban Botanic Gardens is home to an exotic tree collection. During this time of the year, enjoy the kamere gum tree, which displays vivid colours, as well as the breadfruit and cannonball trees covered in fruit. The trumpet and petrea trees are in full flower, as is the Vernonia colorata. The oldest surviving palm in the garden is over 145 years old and can be found behind the tea kiosk.

Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden is also full of life in the winter, as its African mud turtles breed, while herons and spoonbill chicks get ready to leave their nests. Located at 9A John Zikhali Road, Berea.

Mauritzfontein, Northern Cape

According to Mauritzfontein landscaper Arthur Mennigke, the vygies and old Camel thorn trees (Vachelia erioloba) are a sight to behold at this time of year, as the vygies brighten up the coldest days and the trees form beautiful stark contrasts against the clear, blue winter skies of the Nama Karoo.

The aloes bring large amounts of sunbirds to the garden including, whited bellied, southern double collared and dusky sunbirds, as well as red eyed bulbul and mousebirds.

"Colourful, hanging, bell-shaped flowers of Naval’s wort (Cotyledon orbiculata) also flower in winter and can be found in abundance throughout the garden. Mauritzfontein boasts four garden landscapes - green, succulent, woodland and vegetable - and can only be viewed by appointment.


Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, Western Cape

Harold Porter National Botanical Garden is a sight to behold. The park is dotted with yellows and ivories from the sickle-leaf conebush, as well as the pinks, reds and oranges of pincushions, proteas and pagodas.

Travellers should pack a picnic and visit the garden’s famous waterfalls and amber pools, or try spotting the tiny arum lily reed frog that lives in arum lilies found in ditches and watercourses. Located at Clarence Drive and Broadwith Road in Betty's Bay

Garden Route Botanical Garden, Western Cape

The Mushroom Meander trail, at this 19-hectare winter wonderland, offers walks where colourful and intricately shaped mushrooms cover the rehabilitated indigenous forest. Cyptotrama chrysopelea, commonly known as “Golden cointop,'' is a small, bright golden yellow, dry cap stalk mushroom that visitors can observe growing on wood.

Situated at the base of the Outeniqua Mountains in George, the Garden Route Botanical Garden is the only un-irrigated garden in the world. It showcases immense floral diversity, a huge range of insects and birds, and has more frog species in its wetland than the entire United Kingdom.

Located at 49 Caledon Street, Campher's Drift in George.