Cape Town - Recently named International Garden of the Year, it's no surprise that Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town is a well-known landmark and attraction among both South Africans and visitors from abroad.
With the addition of the award-winning 'Boomslang' Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, the extremely well-curated, picturesque gardens are attracting more attention than ever before and recently celebrated more than a million visitors crossing their threshold in 2014.
However, while being the flagship garden, Kirstenbosch is by no means the only botanical garden in South Africa.
Here's a whirlwind tour of the other 9 to explore across the provinces:
Kwelera National Botanical Garden, East London
Kwelera is the latest National Botanical Garden. It was officially declared in 2014. Kwelera, derived from an old Khoi word ‘Goerecha’ meaning ‘many aloes’, is the first National Botanical Garden to be established in the Eastern Cape and forms part of the Kwelera Nature Reserve.
Harold Porter, Betty's Bay
Lying in the fertile fold where two kloofs meet, the Harold Porter Botanical garden is an absolute wonderland for nature-lovers. Forming part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, the garden has a rich diversity of fynbos, carefully curated to showcase different vegetation and climate regions. Beautifully tended grass walkways guide you along and pretty ponds make for perfect picnic spots.
There are also spectacular waterfalls rushing down both Disa and Luiperd's Kloof and during summer months, keep your eyes peeled for the delicate and rare red disa on mossy cliff faces.
While these gardens are absolutely magical to visit year-round, showing off the best of Karoo vegetation, if you go between August and October, you will be treated to a colourful display of spring flowers, Namaqualand style.
Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens, Worcester
Cultivating and displaying a wide variety of desert and semi-desert plants, this Karoo-centric garden at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range has a truly South African feel to it. It is also home to two popular hiking trails - the Shale and Grysbokkie trail.
KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden, Pietermaritzburg
The beautiful and tranquil KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden specialises in the conservation of plants from the eastern region of South Africa and of rare and endangered species from elsewhere. One of the most spectacular features the gardens have on offer, is the avenue of London Plane trees, which form a breathtaking and romantic canopy over a leafy walkway.
Free State National Botanical Gardens, Bloemfontein
Covering 70ha and home to more than 400 species, this botanical garden features plants mainly from the Free State, Lesotho and Northern Cape.
From November to March, most of the plants in the Garden are in full leaf and from March to June the colourful autumn shades of yellow and red dominate. The natural areas of the Garden are a haven for wildlife, including 144 bird species, 54 reptile species and about 32 mammal species.
Lowveld National Botanical Gardens, Nelspruit
What makes these gardens particularly spectacular, is the fact that both the Crocodile and the Nels River rush through them. Before these two rivers converge in the Garden, they form spectacular waterfalls which can be viewed at the Cascades and the Nels viewpoints. Apart from the stunning natural water features, the garden is also home to an enchanting African Rainforest as well as a host of clivias that make a gorgeous display in spring.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, Johannesburg
The garden's vegetation is known as 'rocky highveld grassland' and features savanna habitats and dense bush alongside streams and the spectacular waterfall. It's a very popular spot among urbanites to break away and have a picnic in nature.
Pretoria National Botanical Garden, Pretoria
A 35 m high quartzite outcrop divides the Garden in two sections. Its frosty south-facing section and the north-facing, warmer section present two different worlds to the visitor and botanist. A paved nature trail gives access to the fascinating natural vegetation on the ridge, which boasts a diversity of indigenous fauna and flora.