When people imagine Jo’burg, they tend to picture the hustle and bustle of the big city – full of towering buildings, blaring hooters, and brusque people. In fairness, that’s mostly true. It’s easy to feel like you’re a cast member from Ants when you drive through Sandton CBD. If you manage to go more than a block without someone hooting, well Dorthy, you’re probably not in Jo’burg anymore. And there’s a reason Jo’burg wasn’t given the moniker “The Friendly City”.
But if you’re prepared to look (and enlist the help of some Instagram friends – thanks Michaela!) Jo’burg has some secluded corners of tranquility – though at 1.25km2, the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens can hardly be considered a hidden gem!
These beautiful gardens, on the edge of the Emmarentia dam, are a haven of peace, right in the middle of the city. It’s an odd sensation. When you stand at the dam, you can see all the giant buildings, and a steady stream of cars. But all you can hear is the rustle of the trees and ducks quacking quietly.
I live in a coastal town that only has two seasons: beach weather and hurricane weather. We don’t really get autumn, specially since most of the trees here are evergreens. So seeing all these towering trees covered in reds and oranges and golds was absolutely magical. Everything about the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens is something straight out of a fairytale.
There’s really something for everyone. There are wide open spaces where your children can run around and play. You can go canoeing on the lake. There are rose gardens to walk through. Even a succulent garden – every blogger’s dream!
The pictures in my last post were taken in a lovely archway in the Rose Garden. While we were wrapping up the shoot, some security came and started asking us why we were taking pictures. Eventually it came out that it was fine for us to be taking pictures for personal use, but they thought that because we were using a big camera we might be planning on selling the pictures. The next part was strange. One of the security guards kept telling me that it’s women’s month so I must be proud and keep taking my photos and enjoy myself. He was very sweet, but all in all it was just…odd.
If you live in Jo’burg or you’re planning on visiting, I can’t recommend the Botanical Gardens enough. If I lived in the area, it’s the kind of place I could happily go every day on my lunch break. I might even be persuaded to exercise by stopping in for a run after work. I love going on holiday to big cities, but even I sometimes just need to sit somewhere quiet and take a breath. If you live there, I can only imagine you feel that even more. And the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens are the perfect sanctuary of peace when you need to get away.