Shepparton - Australian Botanic Gardens Shepparton
The Australian Botanic Gardens Shepparton uses Australian native plants in themed gardens designed to represent the cultural, environmental, historical and agricultural characteristics of Greater Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley.
The garden designs depict the story of change. The garden themes follow a timeline and are revealed to visitors as they walk along the pathways. Each themed garden, many still to be constructed, are:
The Indigenous Land Management Garden - This garden will depict the grassy bushland and riverine areas of the Goulburn Valley prior to European settlement and will explain traditional Aboriginal land management practices. Plants showcased will represent the four bioregions of the Goulburn Valley. Local aboriginal input was used in the planning of this garden. This garden will be the first garden visitors will reach on the mound to signify the importance of the first inhabitants of the area.
The Weaving Garden - This garden features plant species used in the traditional aboriginal craft of weaving. Weavers from the Kaeila Aboriginal Art Gallery in Shepparton will be able to harvest the required vegetation, work on-site to demonstrate the craft of weaving and display woven.
The River Garden - This Garden will depict the importance of the rivers, in particular the Goulburn River, to our region. The designated plant collection known as the four Bioregions of the Goulburn Valley, will feature along the course. This long garden will act as a drainage system and will spill down the north side of the mound at the already constructed Drainage Discharge Point (shown on plan). The River Garden will run past and through other themed gardens to represent the importance of rivers to the linking of environments and communities over time.
The Clearing - For people exploring changes to the environment and the associated effects on the lives of local people ‘The Clearing’, designed to symbolise the clearing of the land for farming, will be in stark contrast to the adjacent ‘Indigenous Land Management Garden’. This space will act as an event space, with elevated views of bushland to the west and cleared land to the south.
The Sandhill Orchard Garden - The area of settlement around this area south of Shepparton was known for its sandhills and the establishment of some of the first orchards on those sandhills. The fruit was supplied to the local markets and to SPC. Most of the sandhills were later mined, despite the protestations of many who lived in the area. This garden recognises the importance of the local horticulture industry and recognises migrant influenced horticulture. The environmental history of the sandhills, including the associated loss of native vegetation and wildlife when the sandhills were removed, will also feature in the interpretive story.
The Market Garden - Market Gardens are important to this area which has good soils, a good climate for growing vegetables and a modernised irrigation system. It is historically important and will depict the influence of exotic agricultural practices and stories of early market gardeners such as Chinese man Ah Wong. Vegetable growing is also a developing industry in this area.
The Migrant Garden - This Garden will tell a story of migration using ‘migrant’ plant communities as a metaphor for the many distinct migrant communities of Shepparton. Each section of this garden will be named after a key ‘hero’ species from different ecological niches around Australia and will feature displays of Australian plant communities which are not indigenous to the Shepparton region. This garden represents ‘migrant’ plants with their floral ecological communities intact, albeit modified and adapted to suit their own home.
The Refugee Garden - The Refugee Garden adds an additional component to the symbolism of ‘a melting pot’, a celebration of difference. The plants in this garden will be a collection of native plant cultivars and hybrids, demonstrating manipulation and evolution of plant species over a period of time. It will be native plants which have been raised in cultivation and differ significantly from their wild ancestors.
The Terraces Food Garden - This garden was the first from the Master Plan to be created and its striking design, texture and colour is revealed only when the visitor reaches the top of the lookout area. The quality of this garden has set a high standard in order to tell the story of the development of irrigated and non-irrigated agriculture in the Goulburn Valley. It symbolises the river and channel systems throughout Greater Shepparton, crop planting, and features some of the native plants used as food sources by the traditional Aboriginal people in this region.
The Residence Garden - This Garden has been partly constructed and will be an urban design garden inspiring people to use low-water use design and plants in their home gardens. Species used will be commonly cultivated Australian plants known to do well in Greater Shepparton’s gardens. The open area and adjacent shelter will function as an ‘outdoor classroom’ and as a space for smaller group gatherings.
The Forest Entry Track - The Track links the top of Honeysuckle Rise and the natural bushland along the northern boundary of the site by means of a track which meanders through terraces and gardens planted with bird attracting species.
When we visited in December 2015 only a fraction of the overall grand vision had been completed but it was still a great start to what should become a magnificent Garden. A track winds up a big mound to a lookout with a metal flower sculpture which overlooks the Terraces Garden which represents an aerial perspective of the local landscape defined by its rivers, irrigation channels, fruit orchards, food crops and grazing areas. The patterns and textures look amazing from above.