News from your Gardens | Winter 2015

  • Master Plan outlines new vision for the Botanic Gardens

    An iconic conservatory, a new cafe and visitor centre and a state-of-the-art seed bank are among the exciting new additions released in the Master Plan for the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

    • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment Bob Baldwin launched the visionary 20-year Master Plan in June and pledged $5 million to start implementing it.

      Mr Baldwin said the plan promises an exciting future for one of Australia's world-class institutions.

      "This Master Plan charts a bright future for the Gardens, as a centre for world-leading research and conservation, and a top notch Canberra attraction," Mr Baldwin said.

      "Through the expertise of one of Australia's top architecture and master planning teams and some great input from the community, we have arrived at a dynamic 20-year plan for the Gardens.

      "This will be the most significant upgrade in the Gardens' 45 year history, driving new visitor experiences, new business opportunities and a big boost to the Gardens' scientific and conservation work.

      "We've already earmarked $5 million to start implementing the plan, which will let us get started on some of the cornerstones, such as the new seed bank, a conservatory displaying tropical native plants and a bushland walking trail leading to the National Arboretum.

      "In addition, long-time champions The Friends of the Gardens have pledged $200,000 for an interactive piece of public art - a tree house that visitors can enjoy while engaging with the Australian landscape.

      "The Master Plan includes a new gateway entry experience, a larger visitor centre, a nature play area, wedding garden, ecotourism experiences in the bushland precinct, and an event precinct aimed at young adults.

      "The new seed bank and horticultural facilities will increase the horticultural, research and conservation capabilities of this leading national institution.

      "This is an ambitious vision, and it will take an estimated $25 million and up to 20 years to fully realise, but we're rolling up our sleeves and getting started.

      The majority of the investment will come from the Australian Government over the coming decades, and we'll also be working with supporters and like-minded businesses to implement the plan."

      Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja said more appealing Botanic Gardens would give the Canberra tourism industry a boost, helping to attract and impress visitors.

      "I think the master planning team have hit the nail on the head with high quality design developed within a functional approach - the ideas are exciting and achievable, and they'll appeal to locals and visitors alike," Senator Seselja said.

      "I look forward to seeing some exciting partnerships forged between government, the philanthropy sector and the business community, to bring this blueprint to life."

    Read more on the master plan

  • Blossoming future for delicate native shrub

    The future population of a critically endangered plant with limited distribution in south-east NSW now has a greater chance of survival thanks to a partnership between Australian National Botanic Gardens, the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, the National Parks and Wildlife service NSW the and the Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

    • From a handful of cuttings and just over 12 months of careful propagation, the population of Delicate Pomaderris has been increased from less than 100 to more than 600 plants.

      In May 2015, staff from the partnership agencies and local volunteers planted out over 500 additional shrubs near Tarago and Goulburn with the aim of improving the viability of the populations at both sites.

      Senior Threatened Species Officer for NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH), Keith McDougall said that after initial unsuccessful attempts to build the population from a small number of collected seeds, the decision was made to attempt propagation by cuttings.

      "Given their specialist expertise in this area, we sought the assistance of the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) in late 2014. The result was almost 600 healthy plants for translocation, all grown from the original cuttings" Dr McDougall said.

      Pomaderris shrubs only occur in Australasia and of the 70 known species, 31 have extremely restricted habitat and range. As a result, most are listed as threatened under various legislations including the Delicate Pomaderris which is listed as critically endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

      David Taylor, Curator of Living Collections at ANBG, said that the plantings are a significant step towards securing the future of a priority threatened species.

      "This successful initiative will provide guidance for future threatened species recovery actions and open the door for similar efforts where seed is unavailable or is challenging to germinate. As a backup to the translocation, the ANBG is retaining a selection of the original genetic representatives for future research and potential natural landscape enhancement plantings " David said.

      Dr McDougall was keen to point out that the project was not just an academic exercise and that there were many lessons to learn from looking after a species such as the Delicate Pomaderris.

      "Some Pomaderris are possibly relics of past climates and fire regimes, and may well provide indications of how other Australian plants will respond to our changing climate in the future. They also have commercial potential in horticulture, which is just beginning to be realised."

    Read more on the pomaderris

  • Dinosaurs in the Garden for National Science Week

    A unique interpreted discovery trail through the Gardens will give visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore the world of dinosaurs and the evolutionary history of plants during National Science Week.

    • The Gardens has partnered with the National Dinosaur Museum to bring this trail to life. The trail will introduce visitors to plant evolution using the dinosaur models as a drawcard, highlighting the living plants around them as links to the past.

      Understanding how plants have evolved and altered the planet over time is crucial to figuring how plants might respond in rapidly changing world. The trail will run as part of National Science Week from 14 - 24 August 2015.

    Read more on the dinosaurs

  • New Seed Bank refurbishment

    The National Seed Bank (NSB) has a new look after renovations to accommodate a range of new equipment and a growing team of NSB scientists, students and volunteers.

    • The Seed Bank stores seeds long-term for conservation, and to use for research and restoration projects that address biodiversity conservation issues.

      The Seed Bank is home to a large and ever-increasing collection of Australian native seeds from across the country and its island territories. In particular the Seed Bank holds significant collections from Australian alpine and Southern NSW tableland grassland communities.

      Currently our collection consists of approximately 6000 accessions of 3500 species; including 163 species in urgent need of conservation (listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).

      An important part of the conservation process is the research undertaken to uncover the 'secret code' required to germinate each native species. Many native species have dormant seeds. In the wild, these seeds lie in wait to germinate only when conditions are right for establishment and plant survival.

      However in the laboratory, nursery, or restoration sites, germination is often required 'on demand' and dormancy is a huge barrier to seed use. Seed biology research is done behind the scenes at the Seed Bank. Many visitors pass by the research cottage daily, unaware of the laboratory that lurks within, located in a former curator's living room.

      The building has had many changes; from an early focus on orchid research and propagation, to a facility for horticultural research, and its current role as the home of the Seed Bank. The laboratory facility is where the Seed Bank and Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research's seed research programme is conducted.

      Some of the latest equipment added to the lab from the generous support of the Friends Council and Friends Public Fund includes a new growth chamber for germination testing under different climate regimes, an extension of the freezer-space used for long-term storage, and a seed counting machine to improve efficiency in processing seed collections.

    Read more on the seed bank

  • Meet Annalisa Millar- Gardens new Partnership and Development Manager

    With the recent launch of plans for exciting new projects through the Gardens' Master Plan, Annalisa Millar, our new Partnership and Development Manager has her work cut out for her.

    • Focusing on developing strategies to attract corporate sponsorship and philanthropic donations for the Gardens is the driving goal for Annalisa. This additional revenue will help to support a range of public and education programs and activities as well as key components of the Master Plan.

      Annalisa has extensive experience in developing and establishing corporate partnership and philanthropic programs for national institutions; occupying similar roles at Questacon and the National Gallery of Australia. Presented with the opportunity to build and gather new support for the Gardens, Annalisa she saw a great opportunity to contribute her experience and passion to the organisation. Her existing life-long relationship with the living collection and the place was another lure to taking up the position.

      "I have always loved the Gardens. I grew up in Canberra and have watched the Gardens develop over the years. It's a place I love to spend my spare time - and now I get to spend my working days there as well". "It is an extremely exciting time to be joining the Gardens after the recent launch of the new Master Plan. The opportunities to attract philanthropic and corporate support for some of the main projects and explore synergies and mutual benefits for partners will be a key focus over the next few years."

      She sees the over arching benefit for corporate partners is brand alignment with Australia's national botanic garden that has strong nationwide focus. Furthermore, multi-level engagement with the Canberra community in both educational and community activities is another area of benefit to partners. She has identified the important scientific and conservation role that the Gardens play as a huge attraction for philanthropic donations as well as corporate partners.

      "The thing that interests me most in joining the Gardens, is working with the extremely passionate and dedicated staff, and also helping to communicate their story to potential corporate sponsors and donors."

    Read more on Annalisa

  • Winter Flowers in the Gardens

    Many Australian plants reach their peak in winter. A brisk walk around the Gardens in the crisp, cool winter air may lift your spirits, warm you up and give you some ideas for your own winter garden.
    Here we feature some flowers you can see this winter in the Gardens that may also inspire you to add colour to your garden at home.

    Read more on winter flowers
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