‘Source of pride’ to return to Botanic Gardens
VOLUNTEERS at a much-loved Coffs Harbour icon are overjoyed an important part of their history will make a comeback.
Losing their famous glasshouse was a big blow for the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden but last week’s announcement that $782,096 in grant funding will go towards its reconstruction was a boon for locals and visitors alike.
The money ensures a completely new building will be erected at the site of the old greenhouse which was in danger of collapse and removed in 2017.
Friends of the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden president Lindy Hills said the old site was very popular and ever since it was removed, volunteers had been eager for its return.
“At the regular volunteer working bees, the first question I’m always asked is ‘when is the new greenhouse being built?’,” she said.
“The greenhouses provided volunteers with opportunities to learn about plants they are interested in and develop their interest into expertise that could be shared with everyone.
“The news that we now have a grant for a significant part of the project is very welcome.”
Each of the greenhouses held different collections including an extensive collection of bromeliads, orchids, an arid zone display and many tropical plants.
It is anticipated that all of these previous displays and a few more including living plant walls and bonsai exhibitions will make a comeback once the new glasshouse is completed.
Ms Hills was looking forward to the development a modern facility at the gardens, a facility which almost 100 per cent of visitors indicated they would like to see return.
“Conservation and education goals will be well served by an inspiring new facility,” she said.
“And in these days of social isolation, the Botanic Garden will be able to provide a place that everyone can experience and make a contribution that enriches our community.”
The proposed new glasshouse is designed to replicate a tree shape overhead and Ms Hills said the three red dots on the floorplan represented the trunks, with branches fanning up and out. The design also references the previous greenhouse by reproducing the original hexagonal modules and will allow for additions to be made at a later date.
Having been involved with the Botanic Garden since 2013, Ms Hills is also in charge of the seed bank, which they use to improve their own displays and send to other organisations around the world.
“The garden is fortunate to have a herbarium containing a complete collection of specimens of North Coast species developed and maintained by renowned botanist Alec Floyd,” she said.
And after many years volunteering there is one part of the gardens that stands out for Ms Hills.
“My favourite part of the garden is also the result of Alec Floyd’s work, the rainforest area,” she said.
“It is the result of years of collecting and planting of North Coast rainforest species, many rare and endangered.
“Many of the plantings are now 35 years old and beginning to seed.”