An autumn afternoon in the park

Over the weekend, the continued autumn weather was perfect for a stroll with Daniel in the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. Now, this is something we easily take for granted, and we forget that until about the 1850’s, the concept of an open space, and which is used for nothing but the recreation of the citizens, was completely unheard of. In cities older than Johannesburg, for example London, chances are that any open spaces older than 1850 or so were either a royal garden, an open air market or a military parade ground. So the fact that we have the gardens as a kind of public space is something to be thankful for.

In this particular park, one of the central features is the Emmarentia dam. Both the dam and farm are situated on what used to be Louw Geldenhuys’s part of the original Braamfontein farm. The dam was built mainly to provide work for landless Boer farmers at the end of the South Africa war in 1902 and Louw named it after his wife, Emmarentia.

We decided to explore the northern section of the garden, strolling past the rose garden located next to terraced ponds and fountains, the herb garden and also a section called the Shakespeare garden. It seems that all the flowers here were noted by Shakespeare in the 16th century and all are labelled with names and quotations from his various plays.

And then, something quite unexpected happened. I was amazed to see not only one, but three different wedding parties using the park for their formal wedding photos during the hour or two we were there. I read afterwards that the park has its own wedding venue with a chapel garden and they can cater for 80 wedding parties during a weekend! Luckily for the brides, with over 30 000 trees in the park covering an area of over 81 hectares, none of them needed to be in danger of stealing the other’s thunder!

Image credits: All photography by me


  1. Can you believe I have never been...shocking I know...need to make a plan. Love your photos!

  2. We went to the park over the last long weekend and with all the autumn leaves falling, families gathering and happy laughter and fresh outdoor air we were reminded again how lucky we are to have this green oasis in the middle of Joburg - and we live in Emmarentia! So nice to see it highlighted so beautifully by your great photo's.