History of the Lowveld National Botanical Garden


Although the founding fathers selected the site of the Lowveld Garden for its spectacular scenery, abundant plant life and the rivers, these features were probably also appreciated by prehistoric man, Australopithecus, an advanced hominid who roamed this region some three million years ago. He was small-brained and made primitive stone tools from pebbles. About 1.5 million years later he was followed by Homo erectus, a direct predecessor of man, with a larger brain and the capacity for making much more complex stone tools. Although they were also made from pebbles, they had superior cutting edges and were used choppers and cleavers, used for chopping trees, slaughtering animals and digging out roots and tubers. Many of these implements have been found in the Botanical Garden, some of them as large as 10 to 30 cm in length.

Grinding stone. Photo:L MilneFiner and more sophisticated tools bear testimony to the larger brain of Homo sapiens. He also made arrow heads and the rock paintings in areas near the Garden are proof that in those times game was plentiful here. Pottery made by Negroid tribes some 1,500 years ago has also been found in the Garden, along with numerous "querns" or grinding stones.

Most of the Garden has been planted to lawn and flower beds, with paved pathways, but it is, nevertheless, an interesting archaeological site


In 1955 the Municipality of Nelspruit decided that the town needed a botanical garden to promote tourism, education and conservation of the diverse flora of the region. Years of patient lobbying and deputising followed. Eventually two adjoining tracts of land were donated by the local Municipality and the Board of HL Hall & Sons. In 1969 the Lowveld Botanic Garden came into being and a botanist and Curator were appointed. The original work consisted mainly of clearing impenetrable bush and creating paths with vistas. Gradually the Garden took shape and finally developed into the botanical jewel that it is today, with thematic and taxonomic areas.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute SANBI Home Gardens' Home
This Garden's Home