Share this article

A prehistoric garden is being created at the botanical gardens, where students will be able to undertake environmental studies.
THE public will get to know how vegetation has evolved over millions of years when a Prehistoric Garden opens at the Johannesburg Botanical Garden.


An artist's impression of the interior of the gardenAn artist's impression of the interior of the gardenConstruction of the garden started in late June and the first phase of the project is expected to be complete by mid-July, according to the botanical garden’s acting manager for conservation areas, Sandra Viljoen.

The first phase includes the construction of the garden structure, which will have steel beams and netting to create an idea of a cocoon. Viljoen explains that the builders are getting ready to lay a pavement inside; they are also working on the wall of the structure. Exhibition stands will be installed after completion.

The second phase of the garden, which is likely to follow in the new financial year, will include planting trees from the Cretaceous era and installing sculptures. The cycad plants will be among the first trees to be planted in the garden, while dinosaur sculptures will be the first to be installed.

Cycads are seed plants identifiable by their stout and woody trunks and crown of large, hard and stiff, evergreen leaves. They vary in size and shape; some have trunks that are only a few centimetres tall, while others have tall trunks. They grow very slowly, living for longer than other plants. Some cycads can survive for up to a 1 000 years.

Schools and tertiary institutions will be able to do comprehensive environmental studies at the garden,Viljoen says.

Emmarentia Dam and the Johannesburg Botanical Garden are on Olifants Road in Emmarentia. The dam and the gardens date back to 1886, when the farm Braamfontein was established by Frans and Louw Geldenhuys. After the Anglo Boer War, Louw contracted landless Boers to build the dam, which he named after his wife, Emmarentia.

In the northern section, there is a rose garden, an indigenous herb patch andan amazing collection of succulents. The gardens have terraced ponds and fountains. There is also a Shakespearean garden, with herbs and roses, 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.

Related stories:

Trees to be planted for Mandela
Education tops greening agenda
Zoo cuts its carbon footprint
Kids learn about environment