- Our Botanic Bicentenary
- Red Box Gallery
Who we are
The Botanic Gardens Trust is a recognised centre of excellence in plant science and education with outstanding research and outreach programs in botany, ecology and horticulture.
The Trust was established by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Act 1980. Our objectives are:
The Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens is regarded as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Situated on the shores of spectacular Sydney Harbour adjoining the Sydney Opera House, its 30 hectares are the green heart and lungs of the City of Sydney.
The Royal Botanic Gardens represents almost 200 years of history. Some of its stories are told in the stupendous old trees, some in the stone walls and old garden beds and others in its heritage statuary and buildings. Some stories have left no physical mark but are remembered nonetheless as a dominant part of our history, stories such as Australia’s first European settlement at Farm Cove (then called Woggan-ma-gule by its Cadigal inhabitants). With around three and a half million visitors a year, new stories are being made every day.
While a part of our mission is to protect and cherish our heritage, the Royal Botanic Gardens is by no means frozen in time. The new Palace Rose Garden and Camellia and Begonia Gardens are examples of plantings and landscapes that have been planned on 21st century principles of sustainability while meeting long-established expectations of the community. And it is these principles of sustainability - coupled with our goal of inspiring and educating our visitors - that inform our bicentenary planning for the Royal Botanic Gardens. A key goal for our 2016 planning is to make the Royal Botanic Gardens self-sufficient in water for irrigation and other non-potable uses.
For our bicentenary, we plan to transform the Macquarie Precinct - the area extending through the gates of the Royal Botanic Gardens opposite the Mitchell Library, down to the Tropical Centre, then sweeping across in an arc to the Palace Garden Gate. We’ll be calling for designs that will improve pedestrian access from the Domain to the Gardens, provide a grand set of monumental gates before opening out to new vistas, with glimpses down to the harbour. Our new landscaping will lead us down to a re-modelled Tropical Centre that will also house a Macquarie Precinct Visitor Centre. Close by will be a tree-top walk that will wend its way through the rainforest canopy to the Palm Grove in the heart of the Gardens.
Many of our existing landscapes will be revitalised through our Fresh Landscapes and New Adventures project. We’ll feature intriguing new plants and design our new landscapes on the basis of sustainability, while using innovative interpretation and wayfinding for our visitors. Our New Adventures component of this project is a children’s garden designed to excite and stimulate interest in the natural environment.
The Domain is Sydney’s most popular park with playing fields, lawns and paths surrounded by avenues of established trees. Extending over 28 hectares and with over four million visitors a year, the Domain is used daily by city workers for recreation and is the iconic location for open air entertainment (especially Sydney Festival), mass rallies and other community events. It is also a botanical parkland, featuring landscaped gardens and significant feature trees from Australia and overseas.
The Domain is also the epicentre of Sydney’s cultural precinct. At its northern end, its arms wrap around the Royal Botanic Gardens giving access to Government House, Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, each with its own program of cultural events. Sydneysiders might know it best as the perfect picnic spot with unsurpassable views, especially of New Year’s Eve fireworks.
To the east, the Domain’s pathways lead visitors directly to the front door of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The spires of St Mary’s Cathedral and the magnificent stone Land Titles Office frame the southern end of the Domain, leading through to the Australian Museum and Hyde Park. On the western side of the Domain, on lands that were once a part of the Domain, are some of New South Wales’ most significant historical, cultural, influential and intellectual landmarks: Hyde Park Barracks, the Mint, Sydney Hospital, Parliament House and the State Library of New South Wales.
The Domain will be home to many of the events in our 2016 Celebrations series to mark our bicentenary year and as the site of the first intercolonial cricket game in Sydney, it will host our invitation bicentenary cricket match.
For our bicentenary, we’re planning to restore leisurely pedestrian access in the area around Mrs Macquaries Point by restricting vehicular traffic flow, giving pedestrians priority and by re-landscaping to recreate the natural setting of the Point. At this end of the Domain we’d also like to open a window into the harbour to view undersea life to help people understand the continuity of life between the land and sea. The entire Domain can be seen as the front door to a cultural precinct unsurpassed anywhere in Australia. Leading up to our bicentenary we will reinforce its role as a cultural hub through significant plantings, welcoming entrances and interpreted walking routes.
Mount Annan Botanic Garden
Mount Annan Botanic Garden displays the enormous diversity of our Australian flora. Covering over 400 hectares on the south-western outskirts of Sydney between Camden and Campbelltown, it is Australia’s largest botanic garden. It is also home to the NSW Seedbank and our research on the cultivation and biology of Australian plants. Bicentenary plans include a new facility for conservation research and education, fostering scientific cross-fertilisation with universities and other kindred organisations. This facility will feature state-of-the-art laboratories, research space, multi-sized function rooms, lecture facilities and increased capacity for seedbank, preserved collections and for glasshouses.
Plant species from all over the Australian continent are represented at Mount Annan Botanic Garden: palms and tree ferns of the tropical north, desert dwellers such as bottle trees, wattles, bunya pines, coolabah trees, gum trees, waratahs, kangaroo grass and kangaroo paws. Springtime at Mount Annan features an amazing display of Australian wildflowers.
As the most visited attraction in Sydney’s south-west, Mount Annan Botanic Garden is also an integral part of the lives of the local communities. As with our other estates, it is valued for its vistas, plants, wildlife and fresh air as well as providing important space for recreation in an increasingly dense urban environment. It is also the site of the Stolen Generation Memorial and a location for Sorry Day commemorations. And it hosts and co-sponsors the Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living, as well as many community events and education programs.
We’ve come a long way but we’re hoping to reach out to even more of our growing local communities. For 2016 we’re planning a striking new and more accessible entrance adjacent to a new visitor centre. Inside the Garden we’ll offer some new features - an eco-adventure garden for older children, an aquatic platform that will enhance the facilities of Lakeside as an entertainment space, and an orchid house that will showcase our magnificent collection of orchids and provide a world of discovery for visitors.
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, is at an altitude of over 1000 metres and displays one of the world’s finest collections of cool-climate plants. The 28-hectare garden is situated adjacent to a 189-hectare conservation area of sandstone woodland and gullies. It offers breathtaking vistas across to the Hunter Valley to the north and the brilliance of its autumn hues and springtime explosions of colour are unforgettable.
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden is the natural gateway to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and 2008 will see the opening of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Centre located at the Garden. It will be complemented by a new education centre, together with plantings and interpretive signage that will highlight plants of this World Heritage Area.
Our plans for 2016 will build on the world heritage focus and include a canopy walk through the Gondwana section and a Wollemi Pine discovery experience that will be located in the conservation area. And we’ll add a collection that is new to the Trust - an Alpine House that will display Australia’s increasingly threatened alpine plant species.
As a part of our Bicentenary Plant Diversity Project, our team at Mount Tomah will continue to build comprehensive and diverse plant displays by collecting from the wild in the tablelands and mountains in Australia and from other Southern Hemisphere and equatorial cool-climate locations. There is some urgency to this task in the face of diminishing habitat as a result of climate change, and the collected specimens will provide an important living resource for our scientists as well as extending the experience of our visitors.
Mount Tomah is also a valued part of the Blue Mountains community. We’ll be enhancing the attractiveness of the Garden for our community’s children - and our visitors - by creating a medley of features for children, carefully placed around the Garden to surprise and delight. And we know that the renowned artists of the Blue Mountains will engage strongly with our Art in the Gardens project.
The role of the Botanic Gardens Trust is multi-faceted, but foremost it is a scientific institution. It is world-renowned for the quality of its scientific and horticultural research into the plants of Australia, and particularly, New South Wales.
The National Herbarium of New South Wales is located in the Royal Botanic Gardens, together with the Botanic Gardens Trust library, one of the premier botanical and horticultural libraries in Australia. The NSW Seedbank is located at Mount Annan Botanic Garden which is also home to the horticultural scientific research team. All our scientific research benefits from access to the living collections in each of our estates - and the results of the research in turn enhance these collections.
Our scientific programs are very broad in scope. Our activities came prominently to the public eye with our work on the Wollemi Pine but include much more than this - from the discovery of new species of algae and fungi in Australia to the growing of the giant corpse flower from Indonesia, from reshaping the Tree of Life using the latest DNA sequencing techniques to classifying the vegetation communities in New South Wales. We have plant systematists who describe and classify the world’s flora, ecologists who study the viability and conservation of remnant vegetation, horticulturists who propagate and maintain living collections of rare plant species, plant pathologists who study and treat plant diseases, and much more.
The Trust publishes two journals, Telopea - a journal of plant systematics, and Cunninghamia - a journal of ecology. The work of our scientists is also widely published in peer-reviewed scientific publications and through the Trust’s online plant information system PlantNET. The results of our research are combined with the rich store of information held in the preserved and living plant collections, linked to Australia’s Virtual Herbarium.
Bicentenary planning for our science program is all about meeting escalating expectations for accurate and authoritative answers to the big questions facing us in Australia. We’re planning facilities for a Centre for Plant Conservation and Research and new program funding to support our vision for the Centre as a hub for scientific cross-fertilisation. Science will also be supported by an integrated program of collecting new plant material for research.
The public programs of the Botanic Gardens Trust are at the core of our mission: to inspire the appreciation and conservation of plants.
Our educational approach is to develop the appreciation, understanding and knowledge of plants - their conservation and importance - and to make this information accessible to as many people as possible.
Over 20,000 school children visit our estates each year as part of their primary and secondary classes. For those beyond school years we have hands-on workshops, courses, illustrated talks, free tours and other speciality tours. Others become involved in our various scientific or visitor-focused volunteer programs. The Community Greening program, in particular, reaches well beyond our gates, creating community gardens across the State.
Of course, our primary resources are the estates themselves - the inspiration that forms the basis of the best learning. Not all our programs are overt and our bicentenary planning integrates many ‘soft’ approaches - innovative wayfinding, interpretation and comprehensive plant labelling - with a particular focus on engaging children.
We’ll find new ways for our knowledge and skills to take root in the broader community - such as expanding our website to provide a virtual botanic garden. And we’ll work with partners to promote and implement tertiary and technical courses to provide the community with the information and skills they’ll need in the future.
Our mission is to inspire the appreciation & conservation of plants.