A major event during the year was the completion of the Banksia Centre Garden for the Disabled, constructed as a major government contribution to the International Year of Disabled Persons. It was designed to provide quiet enjoyment in an easy-access garden, and to give disabled and elderly people opportunities for various activities associated with plants.
The garden area consists of plant beds with colourful perfumed flowers and scented and textured foliage, wide level paths, shady trees, water features and many resting places. The beds are raised to bring some plants closer to the eye level for people confined to wheelchairs or with reduced vision Planting near one of the pools has been designed to attract birds.
The activity area contains a classroom, foyer, office, working glasshouse and other indoor work areas There are several raised beds where visitors may garden or see plants which may be appropriate for their own gardens.
In August 1981 the Gardens hosted the ninth meeting and conference of the International Association of Botanic Gardens (IABG). This was the first time the IABG has met in the southern hemisphere with fifty-two delegates from thirteen countries and thirty-seven institutions attending.
The ninth annual meeting of the Council of Heads of Australian Herbarium was held in October 1981 and attended by the heads of herbaria from all States, and Territories. An observer from New Zealand attended for the first time.
The Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment visited the Gardens in October to inspect the various activities. At the request of the Committee a submission was prepared on studies being carried out at the Gardens on endangered plant species.
Gardens’ staff continued to participate in the Australian Biological Resources Study and the preparation of the Flora of Australia. Mr A. B. Court and Mr M. D. Crisp received grants to support taxonomic reasearch contributing to the project and Mr I. Telford prepared the text for the family Cucurbitaceae.
A checklist of Australian Orchidaceae, prepared by Mr M. Clements was published. He also contributed to Orchid biology Vol. 2, edited by Prof J. Arditti and published by Cornell University Press.
No. 11 of the series Growing Native Plants was published. It featured rockery plants which are an area of horticulture increasing in popularity with the growing interest in courtyard gardens.
The second edition of the Catalogue of the Living Plants Supported by Herbarium Vouchers was prepared for publication. The first edition, released in 1980 has attracted considerable interest, and through exchange, has resulted in more publications for the Plant Sciences Library
Dr M. D. Crisp was appointed Australian Botanical Liaison Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for twelve months.
Mr J. W. Wrigley resigned as curator after thirteen years during which he made a major contribution to the development of the Gardens.
Mr H. Streimann was seconded to the Government of Papua New Guinea for twelve months to a teaching post at the Forestry College, Bulolo. While in Papua New Guinea he will continue to collect specimens for the Gardens and herbarium.
Ms R. George, from the Department of Forestry, Sarawak, who is involved in the establishment of a botanical gardens in Sarawak, spent five months studying the Gardens.
Staff of the Gardens participated in the 13th International Botanical Congress (IBC) in Sydney in August 1981 and contributed to symposia, poster displays, field excursions and the associated meeting of the International Association of Plant Taxonomists. Many international botanists attending also visited the Gardens.
Staff also participated in conferences of the International Plant Propagators’ Society, Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation, 10th World Orchid Congress in Durban, South Africa, Symposium on the Biology of Rare Species and Endangered Species in Australia, the Museum Education Association of Australia, the Federal Biennial Conference of the Society for Growing Australian Plants and the 15th general assembly of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and National Resources in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Field collections were largely confined to day trips within the region. A 16- day field trip to the north west of NSW yielded valuable data and specimens for both the herbarium and living collections.
Progress was made in studies of endangered plant species including successful propagation of some plants now found in small numbers on Norfolk and Philip Islands. The rare Canberra daisy Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides which is now found in small numbers in Victoria, NSW and the ACT (it was formerly on Capital Hill) was successfully propagated from seed collected before work began on the new Parliament House. In co operation with the Parliament House Construction Authority plants were re-established on Capital Hill
Horticultural research during the year was severely restricted as a result of staff changes. Two Anigozanthos cultivars, Anigozanthos ‘Dwarf Delight’ and Anigozanthos ‘Regal Claw’ were, however, successfully propagated by tissue culture. Some of these cultivars were subsequently released to commercial tissue culture laboratories through the various state nurserymen’s associations.
Work on the symbiotic germination of terrestrial orchids, particularly in the genus Caladenia, continued. The endangered species, Caladenia hastata was germinated successfully for the first time.
Studies on vegetative propagation within the genus Eriostemon were undertaken. Greatly improved strike rates were obtained with several difficult-to-root species.
Early morning bird walks began on trial basis and proved a major success with visitors.
A plaque to record the site of the first farm in the Jervis Bay Territory was erected in the Gardens’ annexe near Lake McKenzie The plaque and stone The annexe was opened to visitors one Sunday a month on a trial basis to assess public interest. support were funded by Mr G. Leslie, a son of the first farm manager.
The annexe was opened to visitors one Sunday a month on a trial basis to assess public interest
Floral emblem: The Royal Bluebell, Wahlenbergia gloriosa, was chosen in May as the floral emblem for the ACT. It grows naturally in sub-alpine forests and in summer has striking bell-shaped flowers. It is also a frost-hardy, easily propagated ground cover.
The emblem was chosen by the Minister following the recommendation of a five-person committee.