Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

We spent the Easter Weekend in Melbourne, visiting family. One of the attractions of the city we visited was the Royal Botanic Gardens. They are free to enter and easily accessible from the city centre, especially via tram. The gardens are next to the Shrine of Remembrance, a war monument.

One of the main entrances is the Observatorium Gate, named after an old astronomical telescope.

Behind this gate on the right you will soon find the Ian Potter Childrens Garden. It features sand and a watercourse, hedge labyrinths of aromatic plants, a vegetable and herb garden, a lookout in a grove of massive bamboos, and a hidden elephant sculpture. I am told it is not usually as full as it is in the above picture; again, it was Easter.

Botanic gardens can serve a myriad of functions - education and training, research, science communication, plant conservation, recreation, and much more, and accordingly they may look very differently. The RBGM looks at first sight very much like a public park, so one feels that the recreation aspect is a big focus. Shown above is the central lake, and when we were there several weddings were taking place around it, probably because it was 4 April, an easy day to remember.

However, there were also science communication activities going on; we came past a big stall presenting different wooden plant fruits, ethnobotanical information, and photographs of the Amorphophallus that was unfortunately just past flowering. And of course the RBGM are also one of Australia's top botanical research institutions and feature one of the largest herbaria on the continent. I have yet to visit it, because so far I have only made it to Melbourne for a conference or on public holidays...

Finally, this is what I find particularly fascinating about the vistas of the RBGM: The city centre of Melbourne is so close that one will often see the towering skyline directly behind an open park landscape. It looks downright photoshopped sometimes, like one of those surreal SF book covers where a futuristic city sits directly in the middle of wilderness.

No comments:

Post a Comment