History of the Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden


“A stream of water flows through Witpoortjie all the year round. And through the slow milleniums this stream, assisted by the elements and seasonal flood times, has eroded its course down to its present level, so that the person who treads the footpath in the deep valley between the koppies walks in the shadows of precipitous crags that have been eaten out by the quiet waters that he scoops up to make tea with.”

Herman Charles Bosman. (1905 – 1951)
From Witpoortjie in A Cask of Jerepigo



The area around the Witpoortjie Falls which form the centrepiece and backdrop to the Botanical Garden has been used for recreational purposes since the late 1800s. The Witpoortjie Falls probably get their name from the fact that visitors travelling from Johannesburg by train used to disembark at Witpoortjie Station and walk down to the falls.

The Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden was started in July 1982 and is the youngest of the eight Gardens managed by the National Botanical Institute. The Roodepoort and Krugersdorp City Councils made the establishment of the Garden possible by providing land on a 99 year lease and portions of it by donation to the Institute. The Gardens were initially known as the Transvaal National Botanic Gardens and could only be visited by special arrangement. The Garden was opened to the public on a daily basis in 1987.

Major infrastructural developments took place in the early 1990s and included the construction of the Entrance Building, the Nestlé Environmental Education Centre, Sasol Dam and Bird Hide as well as the paving of the main walkway.

Since its early days, the Garden has been developed to include, amongst others, a succulent garden, cycad garden, water garden, fern trail, arboretum and wild flower area. Future plans for the Garden include a visitor’s information centre, restaurant and function venue, display glasshouse as well as many other exciting projects.

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