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Bloemfontein

Free State National Botanical Garden – Get in Touch with Nature

The Free State National Botanical Garden in Bloemfontein offer visitors an opportunity to relax in a natural environment surrounded by beautiful indigenous vegetation. Encompassing a lush valley between the impressive dolerite koppies, Bloemfontein's Botanical Gardens includes both woodland and grassland, as well as a wide variety of animal life. Open all through the year, the Free State National Botanical Gardens are lovely for a day out in the Bloemfontein sun.

Covering a landscape of 70 hectares the Free State National Botanical Garden was established in 1965. At the time of the Kirstenbosch Jubilee Year Tour in 1963, the decision was made to create a botanical garden in the Free State so as to put on display the province’s impressive flora. The current site of the gardens was bought by the city in 1965 and then placed under the jurisdiction of the National Botanical Gardens of South Africa. This proved to be the ideal site with a lovely setting and fantastic climatic history. Free State National Botanical Garden was officially opened on 22 February 1969. From that time onward the botanical garden has been a popular spot for nature lovers as well as an ideal location for research.

Bloemfontein’s Botanical Garden has more than natural heritage, but is also a site of historical interest. Pottery dating back to the Iron Age has been discovered here and can be viewed in the herbarium. During the South African War British troops were placed in the area. They established a dam here. Horseshoes discovered close to the nursery area may have originally come from a farrier shop there. During World War Two Italian prisoners of war built an office beside the curator’s house.

Throughout the Free State National Botanical Garden there are some 400 plant species featuring lovely decorative indigenous trees. The bold colors of Lion’s ear, dwarf coral tree and red-hot poker are splashed through the garden. Pathways guide visitors through this natural wonder and up to rocky outcrops with stunning views. Spring is the best time of year to visit and autumn enjoys warm shades of yellow and red. A fascinating array of wildlife live here including 124 bird species, 50 mammal species and 54 reptile species.

At the visitors’ center you will find the ticket sales office and a gift shop. Also located here is the nursery where you can purchase surplus plants. A day in the Free State National Botanical Garden is a refreshing escape from city life, one that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and at one with nature.