The final weekend of April 2018 saw the unveiling of the innovative new community garden in Bendigo: The Garden for the Future. The garden presents a modern new addition to Bendigo’s Botanical Gardens, and provides a unique and immersive response to the current issues surrounding climate change in the region.
Gardens play a critical role in uniting a community and increasing that community’s relationship with the environment. The Bendigo Garden for the Future is a 3.5-hectare collaboration between TCL, Paul Thompson and Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design. TCL is an internationally acclaimed landscape architecture and urban design firm who deliver a range of projects both nationally and internationally, with a focus on the “poetic expression of landscape and contemporary culture”.
The Garden is both practical in its design and implementation, ensuring its longevity for many years to come, and educational as it encourages visitors to see the benefits of both native and exotic plants and utilise them accordingly. Unveiled on April 22nd, the garden is a community endeavour, 20 years in the making. The original plot was purchased by the council in the 90s, and in 2009 the plans for the garden were revealed. The opening ceremony was more than just a celebratory event for the council, but one for the locals, as the garden is the result of the years of hard work from the whole community.
“People love to help, not just staff but the community also helped to plant [the garden],” said the City of Greater Bendigo, mayor Margaret O’Rourke. “The wider community has pitched in to help [put in] 30,000 plantings from all of the world. It is important to the community to have this beautiful open space that complements the Botanic Gardens.”
Designing a new garden that responds to the dramatic change in Australia’s current and future climate was a challenge for TCL. A plant palette had to be designed that would allow for the flora to thrive both in the current climate, but also in the extreme conditions predicted for Bendigo’s future climate. TCL and partners looked for inspiration from global locations that feature similar climates that have been predicted for Bendigo in the next half century, such as South America and the Middle East.
The layout of the gardens was inspired by Bendigo’s geological patterns and alludes to its Gold Rush heritage in a number of ways. One such example is the circular lawns that reference “pudding”, an extracting method that sees gold found in clay, which left spherical impressions in the Bendigo landscape.
Containing over 600 exotic and native species of plants, the garden has three themed areas: the International Biome, the Australian Biome, and the Fun and Fantasy Lawn. The International Biome is comprised of a range of imported plant species from around the world, including South and North America, India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The Australian Biome features Australian natives that are ideal for the Bendigo climate. The Fun and Fantasy Lawn acts as the garden’s centrepiece where Australian natives and international plants form a cohesive fusion in “unexpected and spectacular” ways. This area aims to inform visitors of the partnership both exotic and native plants can experience, and therefore encourage them to create a garden filled with both.
“As landscape architects, we have an opportunity to communicate important environmental messages through high quality and memorable design,” explains TCL Director, Lisa Howard. “We wanted to create a diversity of plant genera, species and forms that come together in a way that is attractive and interesting, but organised in a strong framework that allows for research and testing.
“Some plants will offer quick growth, being visually evident in two to three years, but the majority will be of medium to slow growth, where the design intent may not be immediately visible for ten to fifteen years, before the garden reaches full maturity in thirty to forty years.”
In addition to flora, varieties of turf were tested across the garden’s lawns in order to assess the adaptability suitability of each plant to Bendigo’s climate.
A pavilion is the focal point of the southern end of the garden. Designed by Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design, the green structure acts as a “visual anchor” to the Fun and Fantasy Lawn, and provides a stage for community events including performances, plant sales, moonlight cinema events and more. The area surrounding the pavilion is also perfect for picnics, barbeques, parties and weddings.
The Future Garden provides many benefits for the community. The garden will provide a boost to the economy, acting as a prime destination for tourists. It will also increase sustainability by promoting sustainable plant choices and improve the health and wellbeing of the local community, by providing an easily accessible location for outdoor activities.
Stage two of the garden project will see the construction of a visitor’s information centre, an outreach centre, markets along the promenade, and the development of further gardens between the old Botanic Gardens and the new Future Gardens. The garden is completely free to visit and is open to all members of the community.
Concept images from Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design.