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At present, the plants in the Rose Garden, the Herb Garden and the Hedge Garden demonstration section are labelled.

Unfortunately, like all botanical gardens worldwide, labels at the Johannesburg garden are vandalised. The main one has a unique design, in that the whole area was excavated and the soil was used to create a berm so that it is concealed from view from within and outside the garden.

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.

A Podocarpus forest – of evergreen trees and shrubs – with representatives from around the world is growing apace.

Great blocks of stone were brought down from the nearby Melville Koppies, which were then fitted together to construct the dam wall.

In all, 42 families of plants are incorporated into the design based on suitable sites for the majority of species within the families.

The families, comprising South African and exotic species of trees, are the framework around which shrubs and perennials are added to complete both the aesthetic and botanical picture.

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.

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