Secure from development in the heart of a continually expanding mega city, Brenthurst plays a crucial role as a green lung and haven for wild life. The garden is 70 percent indigenous, with trees and plants from Australia, South America, New Zealand and Japan enhancing the splendour.
Brenthurst Garden, is situated in Parktown Johannesburg, and is rated as one of the finest in South Africa and can certainly be placed amongst the great gardens of the world.
The estate begins on Federation Road, some of which is incorporated into the property, and runs right up to the southwest border of Killarney. It retains remnants of the original Sachsenwald forest, huge eucalyptus trees soaring upwards, helping to block out the roar of traffic from the freeway.
Its history goes back to the turn of the last century, when the elegant gabled house, now known as Brenthurst, was built for Drummond Chaplin by Sir Herbert Baker.
The first trees were planted here in 1890 by entrepreneur Edouard Lippert, to meet the huge demand for pit props from the mines as well as building material for the boom town that had sprung up in the treeless veld. The estate is a remarkable encapsulation of the history of the Johannesburg landscape - once open veld and now the largest man-made forest in the world.
Brenthurst supports sound conservation initiatives and believes it allows similar conservation space in an urban environment.
"Nothing could be more enjoyable or more rewarding for me than to share this garden. We began the implementation of organic, ecologically friendly garden practices here in 2001. At the same time we have gradually been adapting the planting to its Highveld setting, introducing plantings of indigenous grass and endemic plants. We have seen the gardens come alive in a new and enthralling way, with many new birds and many more butterflies and insects in a rich and fascinating web of diversity.
Gardening becomes so much simpler, so much more enjoyable, when you work WITH nature, rather than against it. A haven for wild life can still be a beautiful garden and we hope you will be able to see the proof of this at Brenthurst and join us in this great adventure." - Strilli Oppenheimer
Quiet Gardens - The primary vision of Brenthurst Garden’s Quiet Garden is to provide a place for contemplation, silence, reflection and a relationship with nature. We are linked to the Quiet Garden Trust which incorporates Quiet Gardens throughout the world.
Garden Tour - Visitors can experience the different types of gardens on the premises such as the Pelagonium Garden, The Fragrant Bell Garden, The Shade Garden/Children's Terrace, The Grassland Garden, The Eco Pond, The Renoir Terrace, The Big Lawn, The Butterfly Garden, The Monkey House Garden, The Koppie, The Japanese Garden, The Wetland Garden, Loss of our first Born, The Labyrinth, The Vegetable and Cutting Garden and Strilli's garden. The Gardens are open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the year.
Secure from development in the heart of continually expanding mega city, Brenthurst plays a crucial role as a green lung and haven for wild life. The garden has become the site for a number of conservation research projects on wild life, specifically birds, butterflies, insects, honeybees and bats in urban environments, several of which also involve the transfer of skills.
Ongoing surveys are producing ever increasing bird and butterfly lists for urban Johannesburg, evidence of the attraction of veld grasses and indigenous shrubs and trees. Chameleons have also been reintroduced, with great success. Other creatures such as mongoose, frogs, reptiles and various small rodents have found their own way ere, adding steadily to the diversity of life.
Research is also being carried out into the effects of electromagnetic devices, light pollution and scent on insect abundance and diversity.
The precipitous site of Brenthurst was one of the last to be sold, bought by Consolidated Goldfields of South Africa, who commissioned Sir Herbert Baker to design a house for their directors. Originally named Marienhof after Lippert's original homestead, the estate has been the home of the Oppenheimer family since 1922. Baker poised the house, with its tall Cape gables, high on the bare rock of the koppie, above a garden plunging with terraces and steep stone steps. Over the next half century, within its rugged setting and burgeoning forest, the garden gradually acquired a more elaborate structure and formality.
1959 brought a major remodelling, commissioned by Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer and undertaken by the remarkable Joane Pim. A pioneer of landscape design in South Africa, the hard landscaping and layout of Brenthurst today in nearly all hers. It was her redesign of the terracing that made the garden easily accessible for the first time in its history. Trained in Britain, she was able to interpret the classic English style to superb effect, but she was also a great innovator and an early advocate of indigenous and waterwise planting, In that, as well as in her structural work, she laid the foundation for the garden as it is today. Dick Scott, head gardener from 1974 to 1999, carried on Joan's work, with assistance from landscaper Beth Still.
When Strilli Oppenheimer became custodian of the garden in 2001, she was determined to respect its unique history. As a pioneer of the natural gardening movement, she has set about applying biodynamic principles at Brenthurst.
The gardens of Brenthurst are quite unique and extremely diverse. Rated as one of the finest gardens in South Africa and one of the great gardens of the world, Brenthurst is inspired by its African surroundings. Filled with indigenous and endemic plants and completely organically sustained, Brenthurst lives in true harmony with nature. Today it is a haven for birds and small mammals, while insect life is prolific too. Rodents, frogs, reptiles and raptors all live there in natural balance