Favourite Late 20th Century Botanic Gardens

It is wonderful seeing the new directions in which botanic gardens are developing. Nature and environment are increasingly threatened as human populations continue to increase and botanic gardens are playing an increasingly valuable role as seed banks for the future and in the mitigation of climate change and environmental education of the public. As the pace of life becomes even more frenetic, they are also extremely important for relaxation and the soul!

1. Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens, 42ha,  1986


: Part of Mogo State Forest and leased back to the Eurobodalla Council for a Botanic Garden, it showcases the native plants of the Eurobodalla region and their diversity in form, colour, habitat requirements and sensory characteristics. It also explains their use as food and medicine by the local aboriginal people. Here are photos of their official map and interpretive board on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk:BlogLate20thCent BG 80%ReszdIMG_3636BlogLate20thCent BG 80%ReszdIMG_3641: There is a Visitor Centre , a Herbarium and 7km of walking tracks. It is a very impressive contemporary botanic garden.BlogLate20thCent BG 40%ReszdIMG_3690BlogLate20thCent BG 40%ReszdIMG_3691Above the lake, there is an amphitheatre for performances with audience seating set into the hill. I loved the random animal sculptures, including the little possum below, along one of the tracks.BlogLate20thCent BG 40%ReszdIMG_3706BlogLate20thCent BG 40%ReszdIMG_3709BlogLate20thCent BG 40%ReszdIMG_3725BlogLate20thCent BG 40%ReszdIMG_3713

2. Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt. Tomah, 28ha, 1987


: Located in the World-Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains, it is situated 1000 metres above sea level and showcases many beautiful native and exotic plants not suited to Sydney’s climate. It places an emphasis on cool-climate plants from around the world, especially those from the southern hemisphere. This is the view from the Visitor Centre with a stone labyrinth in the foreground. The 3rd photo shows the view from the pond looking back up to the Visitor Centre.BlogLate20thCent BG 20%ReszdIMG_5029BlogLate20thCent BG 20%ReszdIMG_5011BlogLate20thCent BG 20%ReszdIMG_5086BlogLate20thCent BG 20%ReszdIMG_5045: One of the few botanic gardens where plants have been grouped according to their geographical origin, allowing  the visitor to see both the similarities and differences between the plants of each region and understand the evolution of the floras of the different continents.BlogLate20thCent BG 20%ReszdIMG_5060BlogLate20thCent BG 20%ReszdIMG_5037: There are wonderful rockeries, water courses and waterfalls and bog gardens in front of the Visitor Centre, (which incidently has a fantastic view!), as well as woodlands, camellia and rhododendron collections and 2 interesting display gardens and walks: The Gondwana Forest Walk and the Plant Explorer walk with excellent interpretive boards. They are so impressive in fact, that we always call in to visit these botanic gardens whenever we are in the Blue Mountains.BlogLate20thCent BG 50%ReszdIMG_5132 - CopyBlogLate20thCent BG 20%ReszdIMG_5118: There is also a World Heritage exhibition centre called the  ‘Botanists Way Discovery Centre’, which tells the stories of early botanists who explored the northern Blue Mountains seeking rare plants and trying to find a crossing to the west, as well as those of the local  Darug people. The bookshop is excellent!

 3. Australian Botanic Garden, Mt. Annan, 416ha, 1988


: Even though we haven’t visited these yet, we hope to soon! They are the 3rd botanic garden, managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, and they are the largest botanic garden in Australia, so I had to include them !!!

: Solely comprised of Australian native plants, they showcase the diversity of Australian flora and will eventually include most of Australia’s 25,000 known plant species. It contains a Bush Food Garden and the Australian Plant Bank with  a seed bank and research laboratories devoted to research and conservation of Australian native plant species, especially those of NSW. See : http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/annan/Australian_plantbank.

4. Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, 363ha,  1989 and The Australian Garden, 15ha, 2006

http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/visit-cranbourne     and


: Victoria’s equivalent of the previous botanic garden, it contains 363ha of remnant native vegetation, a protected site of state significance for biodiversity with 390 native plant species, 20 mammal species and 11 amphibian species. There are walking tracks through heathlands, woodlands and wetlands.BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszdmelbourne spring 184BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszdmelbourne spring 143

: The contemporary landscaped display beds of the Australian Garden contain 170,000 Australian native plants from 85 bioregions in Australia and follow the journey of water from the arid inland landscapes of Central Australia through dry river beds to major rivers and finally the coast.BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszdmelbourne spring 170BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszdmelbourne spring 148

: The art and architecture are very modern and Australian and the presentation of the garden is very stunningly dramatic.BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszdmelbourne spring 116BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszdmelbourne spring 106

: Display gardens also feature contemporary garden issues like the Backyard garden, for kids as well as adults, Lifestyle Gardens, the Greening of Cities, even the Weird and Wonderful! A day is not long enough to explore this amazing garden and it is constantly evolving, so there is always something new to discover!

5. Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta, SA, 250ha, 1993


: Located on the shores of the Spencer Gulf, with spectacular views of the Flinders Ranges, this coastal park features significant areas of natural arid zone vegetation including Western Myall woodlands (Acacia papyrocarpa) and chenopod (Saltbush) plains together with coastal vegetation dominated by Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina) and samphire.

: There are many  highly evolved plant communities that are specially adapted to thrive in an environment where temperatures are extreme and drought prolonged and this botanic garden was established to research, conserve and promote a wider appreciation of Australia’s arid zone flora. In fact, it is  the only botanic garden in the world to specialize in the conservation and display of flora from the southern arid zone of Australia (where the annual rainfall is less than 250mm). Regional collections currently include : Flinders Ranges, Gawler, Eyre, Central Ranges and Great Victoria Desert, with further arid areas planned in the future.

: Sustainability is a large part of their charter and sustainable design and  practices has been successfully incorporated into these gardens including the use of : solar panels, a Waste Water Treatment Plant, rain water collection, underground evaporative air‐conditioning ducts,  an award winning energy-efficient Visitor Centre with rammed earth walls, LED lighting, recycling and the sale of locally produced ecoproducts. I am really looking forward to visiting it one day !!!

And finally, because it is a fairly new botanic garden and we have a personal connection :

6. Gold Coast Regional Botanic Park (Rosser Park), 31ha, 2002


: The land for these botanic gardens was donated in 1969 by the Rosser Family, who are relatives of my husband. John Rosser was a very good friend of Ross’s uncle Alf, who was killed at Pozières in World War I and married Alf’s sister Essie. He was a man ahead of his times in so many ways and was vitally interested in many social issues from education to politics, peace activism, environment , self-sufficiency, gardening, beekeeping and  health.  John and Essie were both vegetarians and both lived well into their nineties. The couple led simple, non-materialistic lives and valued lifestyle over possessions.They raised 6 highly intelligent, well educated, high achieving children, who all returned to their self-sufficiency roots in later life.

: I remember visiting their daughter Jean and their beautiful old home and garden on a hill at  ‘Benowa’ when I was newly married. I struck my first successful rose cutting from their old bush of ‘Countess Bertha’. It was such an interesting place with 4 types of plumbing in the kitchen, lots of unopened packets of hardware on the backs of doors, bookcases of folders and folders of newspaper clippings and scrapbooks and a glass-less lounge window overlooking the beautiful garden and the blue Springbrook mountains beyond the Nerang River. Only now, there is a mass of brick houses between their property and those mountains, as the Gold Coast had grown and developed!!! If ever there was an antidote to the urban sprawl and concrete jungle of the Gold Coast, this garden is it and I think John would be very happy to know his donated land has been put to such good use!

: It includes a sensory garden, specially designed for the disabled, a native butterfly garden, a rose garden, native plants, a montane rockery, freshwater wetlands and a Mangroves to Mountains walk. There are also Commemorative Avenues of Queensland forest giants planted by the Curators of Australia’s Botanic Gardens and International Friendship Force, a nonprofit cultural exchange organization promoting friendship  and goodwill through a program of home-stay exchanges since 1977, a concept I’m certain John would have wholeheartedly embraced. We are really looking  forward to visiting this botanic garden next time we go to Queensland!

The 1st photo below shows my old rosebush, which I grew from the cutting. The 2nd photo shows my current ‘Countess Bertha’ rose bloom.

BlogLate20thCent BG 30%ReszdIMG_0626BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.16.40Next month, I will be starting to write about my favourite gardens, which are regularly open to the public, including historic homes and gardens, nursery gardens, specialty nursery gardens, education gardens and  sculpture gardens. In the mean time, enjoy all those wonderful botanic gardens!




Favourite Early 20th Century Botanic Gardens in Australia

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.Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6824Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6834

: 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.

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2. Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, 90ha, 1945

https://www.anbg.gov.au/gardens/            and

http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/national-parks/australian-national-botanic-gardensBlog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.26.06BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.29.43Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.25.09Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.30.22: 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).Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.34.21Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.29.03Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.33.37Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.34.43Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.28.05Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.30.03: 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.Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_0677Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.40.06Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.39.35BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-06 11.31.16Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 11.24.01: 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.Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.43.16Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.46.12Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.44.44Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.43.31Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 11.34.52Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.50.433. 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.Blog Early20cent BG40%ReszdIMG_4424Blog Early20cent BG70%ReszdIMG_4415 - Copy

: 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.

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Its a lovely peaceful spot with curving paths through woodland and a lovely ornamental lake.

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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 !

Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_9198Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_9201Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_9195Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_9191Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_9193Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_92025. 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.Blog Early20cent BG20%ReszdIMG_06226. Mt Lofty Botanic Garden, 100ha, 1977


: Focuses on Cool Temperate Plants and has one of the richest collections of ferns in Australia.

Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2014-10-27 11.58.46Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2014-10-27 12.09.33: 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 !Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2014-10-27 12.34.57Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2014-10-27 12.56.56



Favourite Late 19th Century Botanic Gardens in Australia

The following botanic gardens were developed much in the vein of the early colonial gardens, but as the new century approached, garden styles changed from a layout of  systematic experimental trial beds to more landscaped park-like pleasure gardens with sweeping green lawns and display beds for general enjoyment.

1. Portland Botanic Gardens, 3.2ha, 1858

http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/places/result_detail/1899?print=true     and


: One of the earliest regional botanic gardens in Victoria ( 3rd oldest in the state).

: Has retained the original squared layout of the traditional experimental trial grounds and systematic gardening, which is rare in Victoria. The Curator’s Cottage, 1859, is one of the oldest garden buildings in Victoria.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4141Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4149: This botanic garden is of scientific significance for its collections of plants, characteristic of Late 19th Century Victorian gardens. It has garden beds of roses and dahlias dating back to 1857. There are 300 different roses and 170 types of dahlias, 13,000 of which are bedded out annually. I love their colourful patches, right next to the old Croquet Club House and lawns. It is a delightful step back in time!Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4155Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4150: I also really like the way they have incorporated native plants in amongst older exotic species.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4168Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_41742. Ballarat Botanical Gardens, 40ha, 1859


: Located on the western shore of Lake Wendouree, this botanic garden is one of Australia’s most significant cool climate gardens. Here are some local pedestrians!Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4080Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4055: There are 52 mature trees listed on the National Trust Significant Trees Register  and many lovely heritage buildings and pavilions, housing beautiful classic Italian marble statues (dating from 1884-1888).

Blog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 108Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4060

:  The Prime Ministers Avenue is of national significance and contains a collection of busts of Australian Prime Ministers, set in the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue of the Gardens. The collection includes a portrait of one of the founding fathers of Federation, Alfred Deakin, who was the first Federal Member for Ballarat and the second Prime Minister, as well as giving his name to the future Deakin University, Geelong, where I used to workBlog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 097: There are  thematic collections of ferns, grasses and indigenous plants, a sensory garden and display beds of bedding plants, roses, rockery and woodland plants. We used to love visiting these gardens in Spring, when the Iceland Poppy beds were a mass of colour !Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_3425

: Lake Wendouree is  also a great spot for bird watching and photography. We saw our first Crested Grebe (4th photo below ) and first Musk Duck (5th photo below) there, as well as plenty of cygnets (1st and 2nd photos below) and felt very privileged to watch the rare courting rituals of a Blue Billed Duck (3rd photo below)!Blog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 041Blog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 027Blog late19centBG60%Reszdmid september 2012 091 - Copymid september 2012 092 - CopyBlog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 1323. Hamilton Botanic Gardens, 4ha, 1870


: Another early provincial garden in Western Victoria with heritage-listed buildings and fountains, 8 trees on the Register of Significant Trees, sweeping lawns, rockeries, lakes and islands, a delightful sensory cottage garden (bottom photo), an aviary (where we saw our first Princess Parrots – see 1st photo below) and an Abutilon collection. It is a pleasant spot to picnic and play.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4353Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4340Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4370Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4361Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4368Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_43444. George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, 42ha, 1886


: Set on Fannie Bay, it is one of the few botanic gardens in the world to have native marine and estuarine plants occuring in the garden naturally. It has survived the devastation of both cyclones and the bombing in World War Two.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6263Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6286

: It has the oldest church building in the Northern Territory, the former Wesleyan Methodists Church, 1897, which was moved there in 2000.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6267Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6268

: Plants include tropical orchids, bromeliads, cycads, palms, rainforest plants, native Top End plants and a Baobab collection.

5.Cairns Botanic Garden and Flecker Garden, 38ha, 1886


: A tropical paradise, renowned for its 4000 species of tropical flora from South-East Asia, South America, Africa and Far North Queensland, including orchids, bromeliads, tropical fruit trees, palms and ferns, bamboos and gingers (see 3rd photo below), aroids and Nepenthes (carnivorous Pitcher Plants – see 2nd  photo below). It contains some of the rarest plants in the world, including the tropical flower Amorphophallus titanium, which weighs 70kg and has a leaf diameter of 7m – only 1 of 2 in Australia.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1347Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1269Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1285Blog late19centBG30%ReszdIMG_0682Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1249Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1369

: Comprised of the Flecker Garden (formal garden), salt water and freshwater Centenary Lakes, a rain forest boardwalk (1st photo above), the Gondwanan Heritage Garden showing plant evolution, an aboriginal plant use garden and the Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park, which contains 700 native plant species and has  lovely walks (Red Arrow 1.5 km and Blue Arrow 6.6km) with great views over the coast.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_0679I loved the variety in these tropical leaves – quite stunning!Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1262Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1270Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1282Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1255Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1258

6. Kings Park, 400ha, 1892 and Western Australian Botanic Garden, 17ha,  1967

http://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/kings-park    and


: Prime position on Mt. Eliza, overlooking the Swan River and the city of Perth.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3410Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3414

: Originally designed as a European style garden, influenced by the English and Aesthetic Movements.

: Includes 267 ha of significant remnant bushland.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3402Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3404

: Focuses on the conservation of the state’s unique and diverse flora.  Western Australia is home to half of Australia’s 25,000 plant species, most of which are found nowhere else on earth. The South-West region of Western Australia is a global diversity hot spot with more than 8000 native plant species. Beds are grouped by state regions, taxonomic groups or purely spectacular displays. When we visited WA in Spring 2008, we found that every region in WA had a totally different set of flora and it was great seeing the display beds with representatives from all these different areas. These include : Wheatbelt, Goldfields, Stirling Ranges, Rottnest and Garden Islands, Kimberley, Mulga, South Coastal and Darling Ranges.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3398Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3431

: The Conservation Garden (4,600 square metres) contains 400 species of the most critically endangered and rare species in the state.

The photos below show Mangle’s Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthus manglessii) and Gilham’s Bell (Darwinia oxylepsis).

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Favourite Early 19th Century Botanic Gardens in Australia

Botanic gardens are excellent places to visit to get an overall view of the state’s flora and history. I love their size and scale, their sense of history and promise for the future. Not only are they repositories of all plants, including national collections of species, but they also provide green space in the cities- clean air, respite from the clamour of the city, enjoyment and relaxation, often being the stage for music, plays,  weddings and photo shoots, as well as providing education and inspiration. I always love their bookshops- a fantastic source of books about gardening and environment, both on local and global issues, as well as identification guides.

I decided to look up the official definition of ‘Botanic Gardens’ and found a great website : http://www.bgci.org  for Botanic Gardens Conservation International, which quotes a definition from the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation as follows:

Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.”

Apparently, there are currently 1775 Botanic Gardens and arboreta in 148 countries worldwide, maintaining over 4 million living plant collections of over 100, 000 plant species.

Their use has changed through history.  Originally starting as Physic Gardens to study and grow medicinal plants, they have evolved into pleasure gardens and scientific institutions, which are continually adapting to and serving the needs of their societies, as new challenges are met.

When Australia was first settled, they became instruments of colonial expansion and economic development. Curators planted imported plants to see how they would cope with the climate and soils of the new colony, as well as native species to educate the general public and determine their usefulness. They even had acclimatization programs for introduced species like sparrows ! Seed banks and herbaria were developed and seeds and plants exchanged between other botanic gardens all over the world. Many of our common garden plants were the result of discovery by plant collectors in remote areas during the Victorian era , who then transported plants, cuttings and seeds back home in protective Wardian cases (photo below) for propagation in Botanic Gardens.Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 13.21.11

Today, they play a key role in :

  • Plant conservation and diversity
  • Education of the public on environmental issues
  • Mitigation of the effects of climate change
  • Survival of the planet with seed exchange and helping ecosystems adapt to new climates in different regions.

H. Bruce Rinker has written a beautiful article titled ‘The Weight of a Petal: The Value of Botanical Gardens’ (see : http://www.actionbioscience.org/biodiversity) , in which he points out their vital role in the genetic protection of threatened species. Over 34,000 plant species are currently threatened – mainly due to the effects of increasing population : deforestation, habitat loss, the spread of invasive species and agricultural expansion – and 2/3 of the world plant species are in danger of extinction by the end of the 21st Century.

The first botanical gardens in Australia were founded in the capital cities and major regional towns in the early 19th century. As time went on, their roles and garden design evolved according to the fashions of the day. There was a lull over the first half of the 20th century due to the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s and two World Wars, but as economic times improved in the 1960s and 1970s, more money was allocated for the development of new botanic gardens, as well as improving the existing ones. Because there are over 140 botanic gardens in Australia, the following list (in order of their creation) is only a portion of them, most of which we have visited and I will include brief notes about their special attributes.

  1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, 30ha, 1816


: Prime location in the heart of Sydney at Farm Cove with sweeping lawns right down to the edge of Sydney Harbour.

: Oldest scientific institution in Australia

: Site of the first farm in the new colony (1788), its story recounted in the First Farm display . Cadi Jam Ora : First Encounters is a display which tells the story of the Cadigal people, the traditional Aboriginal owners of the Sydney city area, and features plants that originally grew on the site of the Royal Botanic Garden.

: Large number of early colonial buildings and structures, including the last remnant of the  Macquarie Wall (1810-1812).

: Many feature gardens of exotics and natives, including rare and threatened species from all over the world.

: National Herbarium of NSW and an excellent library and shop

: Many fountains, sculptures and memorials. See : http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome/royal_botanic_garden/tours_education/self-guided_tours/art_and_memorials.

I have always loved the celestial sphere sundial in the herb garden.Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdnov 2011 102Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdnov 2011 105

2. Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, 14ha, 1818


: My first Botanic garden in my birth state, so will always hold a special place in my heart! Another superb location on Queen’s Domain overlooking the blue waters of the Derwent River. The photo on the right below is the view from the Burrow underneath the Visitors’ Centre over the Derwent River. The feature photo for 19th Century Botanical Gardens is of the entrance to these botanic gardens.Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 13.10.42Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 13.13.01: 2nd oldest botanic garden in Australia with a number of heritage listed buildings,  2 convict-built heated walls (1829) to afford protection for frost-tender plants and extend the growing period of fruit trees and a Lily Pond built in 1840. I have fond memories of a performance from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party set on that lily pond! Les Winspear (see photo) played the Mock Turtle singing ‘Will you, won’t you. Will you won’t you. Will you join the dance? ‘.  There is also an iconic stone arch from the old AMP building ( Anniversary Arch, 1913) at the bottom of  the steps leading down from the Lily Pond terrace.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_0623Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 12.58.02: Historic plant collections, especially of plants from the Southern Hemisphere (including an early collection of New Zealand plants) and a large number of Significant Trees from the 19th century.

: Specialises in Cool Temperate Flora and has an important conservation collection of Tasmanian plants.Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 12.30.47Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 12.38.08 : There are beautiful green lawns  and display gardens. As a kid, I always loved the Floral Clock. There is also a Japanese garden, a Chinese collection,a French Memorial Fountain to commemorate the French explorers visiting Tasmania, an Epacrid Garden (Gondwana), a herb garden, a conservatory, a fernery, a Fuschia House and the world’s only Subantarctic Plant House! There is also a Community Food Garden, which is often featured on Gardening Australia on ABC with Tino Carnevale.Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 12.28.35Blog Early19cent BG20%Reszd2013-06-21 12.28.183. Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, 38ha, 1845

http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/      and


: Also in the heart of the city on the banks of the Yarra River.

: Sweeping lawns and ornamental lakes and displays of more than 50,000 plants, representing 10,000 different species (31 plant collections) from all corners of the globe. See : http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/visit-melbourne/attractions/plant-collections. The lakes are beautiful and form the backdrop to theatre productions like ‘Wind in the Willows’. Some have floating islands on them.Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_0417Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdjens visit jan 2010 135

: Site of the Melbourne Observatory built from 1861-1863;  the Plant Craft Cottage, 1850, which is the oldest building in a public garden in Victoria; 1854 Director’s Residence (now Gardens House) and 1901 Temple of the Winds , as well as numerous heritage gates, pavilions, lodges, nurseries and fences.Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_0414Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_0425

: National Herbarium of Victoria with 1.5 Million dried plant, algae and fungi specimens. See : http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/science/herbarium-and-resources/national-herbarium-of-victoria. Half the specimens were collected before 1900 and one third were collected overseas. It also contains a library of botanical literature and artwork.

: Also the site of the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology. See : http://arcue.botany.unimelb.edu.au/.Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_0386Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_0697 : The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Gardens is a magical place for kids to learn about gardening and their environment.

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: Guilfoyle’s Volcano, originally built in 1876 to store water for the Botanic Garden, has spectacular dramatic displays of low water use plants.Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_0421Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_0423

4. Geelong Botanic Gardens, 81ha, 1851


: 4th oldest botanic garden in Australia and set on a hill overlooking Corio Bay.Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_1430Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_1599

: 38 trees listed by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) on the Register of Significant Trees including the largest and oldest Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)  1859 (photo above ) in Victoria, a Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis)  1869 , seen in background of the  photo below and a Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) planted in 1873. The Ginkgo tree is 156 years old and it is over 16m high and 4.17m in circumference.Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_1492Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdnov 2010 017

: Heritage Rose Collection and State collections of salvias and pelargoniums. There are also beautiful shrubberies, display beds and contemporary kitchen gardens.Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdnov 2010 040Blog Early19cent BG40%ReszdIMG_1452Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdnov 2010 024Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdlate sep 2011 051

: A number of heritage buildings, fountains, statues, including one of the bollards, for which Geelong is famous. This one depicts the first curator of the Geelong Botanic Garden, Daniel Bunce, about whom I might write a post in a future Random Thought, as he was an amazing character! Having collected it on explorer Ludwig Leichhardt’s second expedition, he introduced Sturt’s Desert Pea to the Botanic Gardens and was often chastising young Victorian ladies, who would try to sneak a sample for their pressed flower albums, which this bollard is hiding behind her back! See : http://www.friendsgbg.org.au/news/news-archive/george-jones-the-bunch-bollard-and-the-naughty-girl for the story.Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdnov 2010 031Blog Early19cent BG40%Reszdnov 2010 011

: A very impressive 21st century addition at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, featuring Geelong’s indigenous flora, Australian native plants, ancient Gondwanan plants and low water use plants.

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5. Adelaide Botanic Gardens, 51ha, 1854


: Prime location on North Terrace next to the hospital, university , art gallery and museum. I’ve always thought how wonderful it is to have a beautiful restful garden right next to a hospital, as well as close to all the educational institutions for learning and inspiration!

: Noteworthy buildings include The Palm House 1875, Santos Museum of Economic Botany 1881, the Bicentennial Conservatory, 1988 (seen in the photo  below) and Amazon Waterlily Pavilion, 2007.

: The International Rose Garden and National Trial Garden is well worth a visit for rose enthusiasts – I love their giant arches of Old Climbing roses.

: The Garden of Health (http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens/Visit/Adelaide_Botanic_Garden/Garden_of_Health) has over 2500 plants from 295 species. It includes the Garden of Contemplation and the Garden of Healing, showcasing plants from both eastern and western medical traditions.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_7114Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_7112Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_93356. Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, 20ha, 1855


: Right on the Brisbane River- a perfect spot for establishing a colonial garden growing crops for a new colony, but flooded 8 times between 1870 and 1974, a fact which eventually led to the development of a new Botanic Garden at Mt. Lofty in 1976. The early gardeners imported exotic crops like tropical fruits (mango, pawpaw and  tamarind ), tobacco, sugar cane, grape vines, wheat, coffee, spices, textile plants and timber trees, as well as planting natives.

: There is a Bamboo Grove, Weeping Fig avenue, ornamental ponds and a River Stage. It has a great old-fashioned vibe and is well-used and loved by city workers.