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There is also a tea pergola and a floreum for meetings, shows and exhibitions.The dam is fed by two smaller dams above it, which are home to many aquatic birds.

Two productive boreholes were sunk, as well as a submersible pump in one of the southern dams, which provide the water for the reservoir.

With the completion of the basic engineering operations, extensive planting was undertaken.

Visitors enjoy its special gardens – the Shakespeare Garden, the Rose Garden, the Herb Garden, a Hedge Demonstration Garden and the main arboretum, which houses family groupings of plants and trees of South Africa and the rest of the world.

The gardens contain an attractive mix of bunched indigenous and exotics surrounded by lawns, overlooking the 7,5-hectare Emmarentia Dam, which dates back to the turn of the century, popular with canoeists and boaters.

The 81-hectare Botanical Garden form one of Johannesburg’s vital green lungs.

The land for the gardens was set aside in 1969 – at the time it was a sports field and golf driving range consisting of bare veld and no trees.

By 2009, apart from the area east of the southern lakes which has been left under natural veld grass and bog, and the Rose Garden, the whole area was contoured to existing levels, grassed with kikuyu and half of the pathways paved.

The pathways are so designed that all parts of the garden can be visited without the need to backtrack.

Some 3 000 packets of seeds are exchanged each year, many of which are rare and endangered, thus perhaps being preserved from extinction, far from their native habitat.

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