17 March 2020

National Botanic Gardens marks 50 years of science and beauty

| Genevieve Jacobs
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The Australian National Botanic Gardens

The Australian National Botanic Gardens collection includes one-third of all native plant species. Photo: Supplied.

One of Canberra’s great treasures – the Australian National Botanic Gardens – is turning 50, providing the perfect excuse to mark its significant role in the nation’s scientific and social life.

The lush sanctuary on the lower slopes of Black Mountain hosts an astounding variety of Australian flora, coaxed into flourishing in Canberra’s cool climate.

The Gardens have a dual aim: the plants are displayed for the enjoyment and education of visitors, but are also a vital resource for research into plant classification and biology. The Gardens also hosts a herbarium of preserved plant specimens closely associated with the living collection.

Plants threatened in the wild are also cultivated to preserve their genetic material and garner information that will help reintroduce them to their natural habitat. The Gardens’ living collection numbers more than 70,000 native plants, representing over 6,200 species, or one-third of Australia’s known native plants.

But most of all, the Gardens are a startlingly beautiful place that brings great pleasure to visitors and the many, many active Friends.

From March to December the Gardens mark its golden anniversary and showcase the importance of the national institution.

Dr Judy West

Dr Judy West, executive director of the ANBG. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Gardens Executive Director Dr Judy West said the Gardens have deep social significance as well as scientific value.

“The Gardens is a sanctuary in the heart of Canberra and has grown into one of the capital’s most cherished institutions where scientific excellence works to conserve our nation’s beautiful and unique flora in an elegant space that welcomes people from across the country and around the world.”

The Australian National Botanic Gardens, known then as the Canberra Botanic Gardens, was officially opened in October 1970 by Prime Minister John Gorton.


Banksias are a focal point for celebrations during the gardens’ 50th anniversary. Photo: Supplied.

A misting system was installed in a dry gully at the foot of Black Mountain to artificially increase humidity, allowing for the establishment of one of the Gardens’ major attractions, the magnificent Rainforest Gully.

More than half-a-million visitors come to the Gardens each year to relax in its tranquil setting, explore Australia’s floral heritage and enjoy the wonderful events and activities.

Although the COVID-19 health measures have meant that a number of events will be postponed in the immediate future, including the planned Banksia Festival, the Gardens remain open and plans continue to mark the golden anniversary appropriately.

This anniversary year will also see the construction commence on the Ian Potter National Conservatory. The stunning new attraction is due to open in 2022.

Further information can be found on the ANBG website.

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