happy 200 birth­day

The Royal Tas­ma­nian Botan­i­cal Gar­dens is cel­e­brat­ing its bi­cen­te­nary, with a year of cel­e­bra­tions

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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.

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