The combined area of the dam and its gardens is over 81 hectares, which is fortunate as this glorious emerald of a park, with its contrasting areas of activity and serenity, draws an inordinate amount of visitors on a daily basis. The park is only six kilometres from the city centre.
Located at the northeast side of the park, the dam is a popular destination for energetic canoeists and small-boat enthusiasts. Sailing, canoeing and diving club facilities are housed on its eastern embankment.
The vast green surrounds are equally popular with dog walkers, cyclists and runners, while on weekends the sloped grass embankments are filled with picnickers.
Emmarentia and the gardens date back to 1886, when the farm Braamfontein was established by Frans and Louw Geldenhuys. After the South African War Louw contracted landless Boers to build the dam, which he named after his wife, Emmarentia. On the dam geese, dabchicks, moorhens and other water fowl share their home with canoeists and kayakers.
In the northern section, take a pleasant stroll through a rose garden, indigenous herb patch, or view an amazing collection of succulents at the Johannesburg Botanic Gardens. The gardens have terraced ponds and fountains and a Shakespearean garden, with herbs and roses. It is a favourite spot for wedding photographs. There is also a chapel garden catering for the many wedding groups that use the park as a formal venue.
There are 2 500 specimens of succulents and more than 20 000 indigenous trees in the park.
Getting there:It is open from sunrise to sunset, and there is safe parking from different access points in Thomas Bowler, Orange and The Braids roads. The main entrance is in Olifants Road.
Download a map to the gardens [Jpg, 247kb]
Johannesburg Botanical Garden Herbarium and Library
The library and herbarium are at the Johannesburg Botanical Garden Administration Block in Emmarentia.
The herbarium houses 5532 indigenous and exotic pressed plant specimens, which help visitors and staff help identify the foliage in the park. Next to the herbarium, the seed room houses seed collections from other Johannesburg City parks.
The library has 1421 books, and 1414 journals and pamphlets on taxonomy, biodiversity, morphology, plant anatomy, plant geography, ethnobotany and landscaping.
The herbarium offers free services such as:
Plant identification (assisted and self-service)
School group tours (booked through Environmental Education)
Access to the library and herbarium collection