Some updates from the staff – come and see the changes to your Gardens

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Impression of the new Horticultural Centre
Impression of the new Horticultural Centre

From the Executive Director, Dr Judy West

After the reopening of the Gardens in May, we are happy to see a steady increase in visitors returning to the Gardens, recording 31,885 visitors in June which is an equivalent number for this time last year. The one-way pedestrian system is working well, and we have been monitoring physical distancing compliance with visitors.

We’re pleased to announce that ANBG Volunteers will have the opportunity to return to work from August 2020. Volunteer Supervisors for each volunteer program are working on COVID-19 Safety Plans to ensure the safety of volunteers, visitors and staff. All volunteers will need to sign their Volunteer Agreement Form and have a special COVID safe induction/training session before they can recommence. We look forward to seeing our wonderful volunteers soon.

The majority of staff are now back in their ANBG office, with some splitting their days between home  and on site. It is great to see colleagues in the flesh (so to speak) instead of on video screen for the past few months. In the meantime those staff on site during our closure have managed to progress lots of activities, especially infrastructure and building projects.

On 12 July, the Australian Government announced the biggest single investment made in Australia’s Commonwealth national parks, including for the Gardens. The new funding component for the Gardens will enable us to implement the final target of the Masterplan Phase 1, with development of the Horticulture Centre including workshops, storage sheds and staff amenities.  The new facilities will be adjoining the new National Seed Bank in the Northern Precinct.

Funding was also announced for extension of the boundary fire suppression system that will cover the entire boundary fence line and include a site wide evacuation warning system.

With this major injection of infrastructure funding, the Gardens in recent times has received record levels of funding for major capital projects and refurbishments, allowing for continued implementation of the Gardens Masterplan and renewing much of our aging infrastructure.

The tender for the new National Seed Bank has been finalised and the Architect has been selected to design the new facility.  We will make this announcement soon and quickly move into the design phase.

After considerable time working on specifications, we are currently finalising the tender for the builder to construct the Ian Potter National Conservatory. Construction is planned to commence in November, and we will provide more details when the builder is appointed.

The Banksia Garden is nearing completion with the interpretation signs installed on Thursday 16 July and the dry-stone wall to be completed by the end of July. The garden is now open for people to wander through; and the main plant out will now be completed in Spring. An official opening will be scheduled when possible later in the year.

The Banks Building has undergone major refurbishments and it is looking spectacular. ANBG Management made the decision to revert to the original name which was the Banksia Centre Education and Learning. This provides a strong link to the new Banksia Garden adjacent to the building. With the new look, we decided it would be fitting to provide new names for the rooms in the building. To link in with the new Banksia garden and with the tradition of honouring significant people the following names have been chosen:

  • Celia Rosser Room (previous Carpet room) – Celia Rosser is an Australian botanical artist, best known for having published The Banksias, a three-volume series of monographs containing watercolour paintings of every Banksia species. Celia Rosser is one of only two women who has a species of Banksia named in her honour – B. rosserae. Celia is very happy to have her achievements recognised and open to having her work reproduced in the room to tell her story.
  • Daniel Solander Studio (previous Glasshouse room) – Daniel Solander was the Botanist working with Joseph Banks on James Cook’s Endeavour voyage to Australia and the pacific. They collected the first specimens of Banksia at Botany Bay in 1770. Banksia solandri is named in honour of Daniel Solander.

New-look Banksia Centre

New look Banksia Centre

The Crosbie Morrison building has also seen some amazing refurbishments with new flooring, upgrades to all bathrooms and a new kitchen. We will be taking bookings from 1 August with a reduction in room capacities and with COVID-19 safety procedures in place.

Crosbie Morrison breakout room

Crosbie Morrison breakout room

The self-guided Flowers, Fruit & Foliage (FFF) walk has returned and is now available online and at the Visitor Centre. Thanks to Ben and Ros Walcott for producing the trail each fortnight.

A newly branded and updated Visitor Guide and Map is now available at the Visitor Centre – it’s quite attractive and refreshing.

Four historical panels will soon be placed around the Gardens – Rock Garden, Education Lawn, Rainforest Gully and Red Centre Garden – as part of a 50th Anniversary outdoor ‘Reflections’ exhibition. Visitors will be able to stand and reflect on the historic images from our collection, taken prior to the construction and planting of the gardens.

A new fence has gone up around the Conservation Garden which will keep the hungry browsing creatures out and help those plants to flourish. And the front entrance pedestrian path has been completed, with some follow-up plantings to be done next plant-out.