To get a real sense of Jozi being the world’s largest man-made urban forest, come and play in The Parks, says Bridget Hilton-Barber of the Ministry of Fabulousness
The Parks is the collective name for the well-heeled, densely forested suburbs of Parktown, Parktown North, Parkview, Parkhurst, Craighall Park and Westcliff, which border the city’s biggest and best public parks.
I’m talking one mother of a green belt with great possibilities for adventure – from soul strolls and family picnics to dog walking and crazy-mad mountain biking. Plus some gentle eating and drinking of course.
I walk often with friends and dogs at the much loved and well frequented Emmarentia Park and Botanical Garden (www.jhbcityparks.com) which is 81 hectares and consists of two sections – the wilder, dog walking park which has magnificent trees, dams and wetlands, as well as biking trails and canoeing facilities; and the formal botanical garden which has themed sections, an arboretum and a play area for kids, no dogs allowed.
The dog park section is well maintained, and the dogs generally well behaved, if not entirely enthusiastic, considering how many are walked here daily. There are plenty of shade trees and benches for moments of quiet repose, there are three river-fed dams that are home to happy ducks and healthy plants, and it’s easy to walk for a couple of hours without feeling like you’re in a city at all.
Sometimes it’s even better, sorry dogs, to head for a ramble around the botanical garden on a Sunday. This is unabashed garden romance and is a popular spot for wedding photographs.
I love the rose gardens with its different levels of pools and spitting fountains, I especially love the Herb Garden with its soulful statue of a little boy and his buck, and also the Shakespeare garden, oh my, faints with delight. As Shake himself said, these flowers are like the pleasures of the world.
One of my other favourite green things is a brisk walk around Zoo Lake, one of the city’s oldest parks (it opened in 1908) famed for its fountains, its rowing boats and resident geese and ducks.
Zoo Lake can be rowdy on the weekends, but during the week, it’s a quiet and fascinating place to do a few laps, and I watch the passersby, admire the distant skyline of Braamfontein and sometimes have a coffee at the lovely Moyo restaurant on lake’s edge. “Perhaps”, wrote American poet Wallace Stevens, “the truth depends on a walk around the lake”.
They serve good coffee and fresh light farm-style meals, and I listen to the clatter of children and the chatter of cyclists. Delta Café has direct access to Delta Park’s extensive biking trails and is very popular with the weekend post-ride cappuccino crowd.
Delta Park is a massive 108 hectares of grasslands and woodlands with dams and waterfalls, and includes the delightful 7.5 hectare enclosure that is the Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary, the oldest in Johannesburg.
Next to Delta Café is the extensive Colourful Splendour Nursery which is always good for an uplifting wander. The nursery specialises in indigenous and environmentally friendly gardening and I leave inspired – and hungry.
Around the corner from Delta Park, inside the designer bottle store Liquor @ Craighall, I stop to buy cheese from Angus the artisanal cheese guy who sells a delicious array of organic cheeses from around the country, all free of hormones, antibiotics, artificial colourants and produced with vegetable/microbial rennet. Yum. Cheese by Angus
On the first Sunday of every month, at Pirates Sports Club in Parkhurst, there’s the delicious Jozi Real Food Market a child and pet friendly vegan market offering a range of fare including raw juices, coffee, super foods and fresh organic vegetables.
And around the corner is the vegan Greenside Café, where owner, Dimitri Gutjahr, prides himself in his food combinations and says his customers love the way they feel, and the abundant energy they receive after eating there. Namaste.
- Read about how journalist and author Nechama Brodie worked out that Jozi is indeed the world’s largest man-made urban forest – The Joburger who went up a tree and came down a forest
Read more of Bridget’s Fabulous Green Routes here
Bridget’s Mpumalanga route Discover Bridget’s fabulous Mpumalanga route