This week, I will be describing some of the newer botanic gardens with their increased emphasis on native plant collections and environmental sustainability. The first of these probably belongs to the previous century, though its origins are slightly different.
1.Araluen Botanic Park, 59ha, 1929
: Originally established as a holiday camp for members of the Young Australia League. ‘Araluen’ is an Eastern States aboriginal word meaning ‘singing/ running waters’. It was sold in 1990 to the State Government, who undertook major restoration of the heritage structures and gardens.
: 14 ha of developed gardens and The Grove of the Forgotten, a series of terraces descending a steep slope, flanked by Pencil Pines in the shape of a lyre, a symbol of music. A waterfall cascades through the terraces down to a calm reflection pond, a beautiful way to commemorate the 88 Young Australia League members , who were killed in World War I. It is a very peaceful spot.
2. Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, 90ha, 1945
http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/national-parks/australian-national-botanic-gardens: In the 1930s, Canberra was known as ‘The City of Flowers’, but there was no botanic garden. While preliminary research and planning occurred between 1933 and 1935, it was not started until after World War II and opened to the public in 1967. The plan specified that it was to be was built close to the proposed university and have a scientific basis, rather than “for ornamental purposes only”.
The gardens were developed on the foothills of Black Mountain, which is topped by the Telstra Tower and overlooks the city (see 1st photo above). The plants in the foreground are Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) and their flowering spikes were used by Australian aborigines to make spears. The following photos include :
Photo 1 : Waratahs (Telopea speciosissima), the official floral emblem for New South Wales and photo 2 : a hybrid waratah ‘Parry’s Dream’;
Photo 3 : Narrow-Leaved Drum Sticks (Isopgon anethifolius) and photo 4 : Rose Coneflower (Isopogon formosus);
Photo 5 : Homoranthus flavescens (gold) and photo 6 : Grevillea ‘Poorinda Adorning’ (red).: It contains scientific collections of 78,000 native Australian plants (one third of all Australian plant species), displaying the huge range of diversity of Australia’s habitats and flora. Plants are grouped by geographical regions from Coastal Rainforest to the Red Centre of Australia or by botanical plant families. The photos below show a Brittle Gum (Eucalyptus mannifera); Dendrobium speciosum plants in the tropical glass house; and a Water Dragon in his habitat.: It conducts research in plant classification and biology and includes : the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research; the Botanical Resource Centre, which houses the Public Reference Herbarium with specimens which represent the native and naturalised plants of the A.C.T., the Southern Tablelands, Australian Alps and the South Coast; the Australian National Herbarium and the National Seed Bank. There is also a great library and bookshop.
These photos show the Red Centre (with the Telstra Tower in the background), its design plan, Porcupine Grass (Triodia pungens) and a sculpture of a Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus). It is wonderful to walk through the cooling rain forest after a visit to the hot Red Centre, seeing representatives of the ancient Gondwanan forests, which used to cover much of our continent 60 Million years ago, but now only grows in patches on the eastern fringe (less than 1 per cent of our total land area). The last photo is of a Wollemi Pine (Wollemi nobilis), one of the world’s oldest and rarest trees. It belongs to a plant family over 200 Million years old and is thought to have existed during the Jurassic era with the dinosaurs. It was thought to have been extinct for over 2 Million years, until a small patch was found by bushwalkers in Wollemi National Park in 1994.3. Booderee Botanic Gardens, 80ha, 1951
: Originally started as a frost-free annex of the Australian National Botanic Garden, it was sold to the local Koori community in 1995 and is the only aboriginal-owned botanic garden in Australia. It became independent of the ANBG in 2000 and is jointly managed by Parks Australia.
: It showcases the long relationship between the Koori people and the area and plants of South-East Australia with display beds of bush tucker and the medicinal uses of plants.
Its a lovely peaceful spot with curving paths through woodland and a lovely ornamental lake.
4. Wittunga Botanic Garden, 14ha, 1975
Originally established around an old private homestead called ‘Wittunga’, these gardens show the close relationship between the water-wise plants of Australia and South Africa and include a Bog Garden, a Butterfly Garden and display beds of Erica, Proteas and Leucadendrons. There were so many unusual and dramatic looking plants, which I had never seen before !
5. Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt. Cootha, 56ha, 1976
: Became the main botanic garden in Brisbane after all the city flooding.
: Contains 20,000 plants of 5,000 species from all over the world, arranged in thematic and geographic communities. In 1985, the Australian Plant Communities collection (27ha) was added and contains native plants from all over Australia, but especially Queensland. A 4ha area for a conservation walk, kitchen garden, new lagoon and playground will be added in 2015.
: The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is also located in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.6. Mt Lofty Botanic Garden, 100ha, 1977
: Focuses on Cool Temperate Plants and has one of the richest collections of ferns in Australia.
: It is also the site of the ATCO Heritage Rose Garden with beds of Species roses, showing the history and development of the Modern Rose. It took some time and dedication to find (it is up the very top of the hill!), but it was definitely worth it !