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Free State NBG: South Africa’s Most Precious Garden


Early in South African history the site of the Free State National Botanical Garden was inhabited by Iron Age Basotho dwellers. Remains of their pottery have been found and are on display in the Education Centre. The Free State National Botanical Garden dates back to 1965, and is one of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)’s ten national botanical gardens in South Africa. SANBI is a statutory body whose mandated focus is on South Africa’s national biodiversity heritage.


The garden spans a valley between dolerite koppies (small hills) capped with rocky outcrops – typical of the area.

The natural vegetation is composed of grassland, woodland and fascinating Karoo plants. Succulents and bulbous plants form a natural garden amongst the rocks on the koppies and can be seen along the scenic nature trails.

The garden has an abundance of wildlife, including over 140 bird species, 54 reptile species and about 32 mammal species, with over 300 plant species in the developed area.


Lapa: The lapa can be used for social functions such as birth-day parties, weddings, year-end functions, etc. it is equipped with chairs and tables, a stove with oven, and a fridge.

Marquee area: A picturesque marquee lawn is available for big functions. The lawn is 35 m wide and 70 m long. This area is suitable for functions such as weddings, concerts, meetings, birthday parties, etc.

Walking trails: We encourage all visitors to walk the beautiful Motshetshe and Garden View trails. These will showcase the beauty and diversity of our Free State plants.

Nursery: We encourage the use of indigenous plants in home gardens by making them available at competitive prices. This service is available daily. A special plant sale is held annually, usually late September, with the full support of the Botanical Society of South Africa.

Specialists are working on a DNA barcoding project in order to help law enforcement and officials to identify

Braai area: A braai area is available for visitors who want to dine alfresco.

Environmental education: To further the vision of environmental education for sustainable living, our programmes offer learners hands-on experience in the garden environment Guided tours: Guided tours for schools and other interest groups require prior arrangements with the administration office, during working hours. Restaurant: The restaurant operates privately. Visitors can bring the whole family and enjoy good service from the restaurant with a stunning view of the garden. The kids can play on the lawns in front of the restaurant while you relax with a sundowner.


The water-wise demonstration garden illustrates the use of indigenous Free State plants to conserve water in domestic gardens. A self-guided tree route introduces visitors to 43 of South Africa’s beautiful indigenous trees along our two walking trails.


  • Watch the bird life from the bird hide at the dam.
  • Be intrigued by the fascinating Medicinal Garden. This section houses replicas of Basotho and Boer dwellings, and a range of intriguing plants with medicinal properties.
  • Walk the Motshetshe and Garden View trails. Both trails are approximately 2.1 km long.
  • Experience the uniqueness of the Succulent Garden and the Garden of Hope.
  • Keep to the pathways and lawns; do not walk in the beds.
  • Take note of our ‘Picnic in, Litter Out’ policy. Please take home everything you bring in.
  • The garden serves as an important conservation area. For this reason we do not allow the following into the garden: balls, bats, bikes, kites, frisbees, skateboards, rollerblades, scooters, fires, gas braais, dogs, cats, musical instruments, or radios/CD players.

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