National Botanic Gardens
The tenth anniversary of the official opening of the National Botanic Gardens was celebrated in October 1980. The celebration took the form of a public lecture by Emeritus Professor Lyndsay Pryor on the topic ‘The Botanic Garden in a Changing World’. The lecture paper was subsequently published.
Open days were held on 18 and 19 October when the public was invited to inspect areas of the Gardens not normally open. These included the herbarium, glasshouses, seed store and laboratories. Several community groups provided displays of their activities related to the work of the Gardens. Musical groups performed throughout the weekend. It was estimated that about 1800 visitors attended despite the inclement weather on one day.
Erection of a kiosk was completed and a concessionaire began operations from it in February 1981. A high standard of cuisine has been maintained and the public appears appreciative.
Her Excellency Lady Cowen, C. St. J., opened a memorial to the late Dr Nancy Burbidge, a famous Australian botanist. The memorial is in the form of a small amphitheatre located in the eucalypt lawn area and is used as an open-air classroom and meeting place for students and other groups, It has also been used for an open-air twilight concert.
A number of organisâtions with which Dr Burbidge had been associated during her life proposed and funded the project.
In April, Mrs Tamie Fraser turned the first sod on a special garden for the disabled being constructed as a major initiative for the International Year of Disabled Persons, The project, which is being funded by the NCDC, will include a glasshouse for teaching purposes, a classroom, raised planting beds and displays of scented and differently textured plants.
Emphasis continued to be placed on education, and large numbers of students visited the Gardens. A glasshouse for teaching school groups was completed. The Commonwealth Teaching Service provided a plant biology teacher to assist in developing secondary school programs. A grant was received from the Schools Commission to develop an innovative education program on bird interpretation. Birds are a major feature of the Gardens and the program will be designed specifically to enhance children’s knowledge of the appearance and songs of Australian native birds. Special emphasis will be placed on helping children with poor sight or other disabilities to recognise birds by their Songs.
A proposal to extend the area of the National Botanic Gardens has been under consideration for some years. An environmental impact statement on this proposal released for public comment received wide support from members of the public, interest groups and Government authorities. The Minister for Home Affairs and Environment gave an environmental clearance for the project and the Department indicated that the extension would proceed subject to staff and financial resources becoming available.
The herbarium collections continued to be developed. There are now about 90 000 specimens of vascular and 20 000 specimens of non-vascular plants in the herbarium.
The botanists at the Gardens began work on contributions to the new edition of Flora of Australia being sponsored by the Commonwealth Government. They also contributed to two major publications on the Australian flora: the Flora of Central Australia and Flowering Plants of Australia.
A preliminary check-list of the vascular plants of the south coast of New South Wales has been completed and further work will be developed as a joint project with the Herbarium Australiense of CSIRO.
The first edition of the Catalogue of the Living Plants Supported bv Herbarium Vouchers was published. Work has begun on a catalogue of Australian mosses and Volume 10 of the series Growing Native Plants was published.
Field collections during the year were largely restricted to day trips within the vicinity of the ACT. Co-operative fieldwork was carried out in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, with financial assistance from the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, in Israelite Bay, Western Australia, with assistance from the Australian Orchid Foundation; in Portland, Victoria. with assistance from ALCOA, and in central Australia, with assistance from the CS1RO Division of Forest Research.
With the assistance of the University of Papua-New Guinea, the Division of Botany, Lae, and the Forestry College, Bulolo, about 5000 specimens of mosses, lichens and other non-vascular plants were collected by an officer of the Herbarium.
Officers of the Gardens attended meetings, of the Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria and the Council of Nature Conservation Ministers Working Group on Endangered Plant Species.
The annual meeting of the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority was held at the Gardens.
Officers attended conferences of the International Plant Propagators’ Society, the Museums Association of Australia and the Australian Nurserymen’s Association.