Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, Krugersdorp

Walter Sisulu Natinal Botanical Gardens, Witpoortjie Falls Image source

This botanical garden was founded in 1982, but has been a popular venue for outings since the 1800's. The garden has been voted the best place to get back to nature in Gauteng for 9 years in a row. The Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden in Ruimsig is one of eight botanical gardens in South Africa. It covers almost 300 Hectares of ground with both landscaped and natural veld areas. Witpoortjie Falls is situated in the middle of the gardens and has been a favourite picnic spot since the late 1800s. The botanical garden was started in July 1982 and is the second youngest of the nine national botanical gardens managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The then 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 garden was initially known as the Transvaal National Botanic Garden and could only be visited by special arrangement. The garden was opened to the public on a daily basis in 1987 as the Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden. In March 2004, the garden was renamed the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, in honour of the late ANC stalwart Mr Walter Sisulu (1912-2003) who, together with former president Nelson Mandela, led the struggle for a, Democratic South Africa.
 
The area around the Witpoortjie Falls, which form the centrepiece and backdrop to the 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.
 
Major infrastructural developments took place in the early 1990s. These 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.
Over the years the following features have been developed in the garden; a succulent rockery garden, cycad garden, water garden, fern trail, arboretum, geological garden, People’s Plant Garden, birds and butterfly garden, dell section, waterwise garden, children’s garden, wild flower area, visitors’ information centre, restaurant and function venue.
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Last updated : 15-Mar-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 15-Mar-2019

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