happy 200 birthday
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is celebrating its bicentenary, with a year of celebrations
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens has turned 200 and is celebrating its bicentenary with fun and festivities throughout the year. The highlight so far has been the official launch on April 10 by HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the first member of the Royal Family to visit the Gardens since the ‘Royal’ prefix was bestowed by Her Majesty The Queen in 1967.
The team at the Gardens has worked hard to prepare for this milestone. The living collections are flourishing, and the visitor facilities have been spruced up, including the new visitor hub at the main gate. This hub provides visitors with the opportunity to find out what is in season, and to hear about all the hidden secrets as they embark on their visit.
The installation of three architecturally designed decks, sitting atop the iconic Lily Pond marks the bicentennial year, while providing a contemporary focus to this historical part of the Gardens. Waterlilies are bursting into colour as spring weather lures them out of winter dormancy.
Colour also abounds in the rose display from October through to February, with the historic Eardley Wilmot Wall providing a backdrop to the stunning rose arbor, which showcases the beautiful ‘Pierre de Ronsard’ and ‘Lorraine Lee’ roses.
Located adjacent to the roses is the famous Tasmanian Community Food Garden, known fondly as Pete’s Patch. Peter Cundall’s legacy lives on, with a bicentennial range of seeds endorsed by Pete, because they are ‘blooming marvellous’, available for sale at The Botanical Shop. The ABC Gardening Australia TV crew continues to use the vegetable patch, and visitors are often welcomed by Tino Carnevale as he is filming a segment for the show.
The annual Tomato Sale is also part of the spring landscape at the Gardens, with about 6000 tomato seedlings of more than 100 heirloom varieties being snapped up by visitors over a 48-hour period. This year the sale is on October 18–20, and Australia’s leading tomato experts will be in town for the launch of Tomato: know sow grow feast by Penny Woodward, Janice Sutton and Karen Sutherland. This spring promises to be even bigger than usual, and the heirloom seed bank, which stores more than 500 tomato varieties, ensures the long-term sustainability of this flagship event.
While this has been a year of celebration, severe weather in May saw unprecedented flooding and wind damage across the 14ha site, with the loss of 13 trees in one night, including three significant trees. However, with sadness comes opportunity, and the revitalisation of the Tasmanian section of the site provides exciting opportunities, with new landscaping plans underway.
The Gardens welcomes more than 475,000 visitors annually and features a number of unique collections, including Australia’s only Subantarctic Plant House. It is considered to be the country’s premier cool-climate garden experience, making it a must for locals and visitors.
And did we mention that the Gardens has also launched a special bicentenary range of botanically infused gin?
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Spring tulips; an aerial view of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens; new Lily Pond decks; the rose arbor ; HRH Prince Edward at the o cial bicentennial launch.