R35 gets you into the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, one of South Africa’s 10 national constant gardens. Spring on the Highveld is one of the most striking seasons with the garden coming to life again. Coral trees are draped with red flowers, attracting nectar-feeding sunbirds, and wild pears bear delicate white blossoms.
Snack on sarmies beneath the Witpoortjie waterfall, watch Verreaux’s eagles perched at the top with binocs, and walk up the slope to the top to admire the view. If you’ve got time and energy be sure to also trot along the self-guided JCI Geological Trail which is roughly 3,5 kilometres.
This gorgeous Roodepoort park cleverly incorporates the natural highveld environment into a network of themed gardens such as the cycad garden, the bird and butterfly garden and (my favourite) the succulent rockery. Collectively, the grounds feature over 600 indigenous plant species.
In October and November, migrant swallows and cuckoos return with a host of other bird species to build nests and breed, and local wild flowers emerge.
Keen twitchers can also visit the Sasol bird hide, which overlooks a dam and small wetland area – the garden is home to 232 species.
If you forgot to bring the cheese for the crackers, there’s a lovely restaurant in the garden called Eagle’s Fare and they offer a Sunday buffet. Or (and I strongly suggest this) gather the coins and buy an ice cream to accompany the great summer sunshine and take your time to appreciate the beauty on your doorstep.