The Bendigo Botanic Gardens’ Garden for the Future is an inspiring and sustainable landscape that provides diverse opportunities for learning about plants, horticulture, landscapes, botany, ecology, conservation and heritage. It is a place for the whole community to enjoy.
The brief for the Garden for the Future was extensive. The critical question for the Garden for the Future is how do you respond to the desire for a contemporary interpretation of a garden that can help us prepare for and embrace the future? How do you capture the imagination of generations to come? How do you educate visitors and inspire the local community?
The idea behind the Bendigo Garden for the Future is not only practical (to ensure the garden’s own survival), but to educate and encourage visitors to use the climate-appropriate plants found here in their own gardens in new and interesting ways.
Designing a brand new botanic garden in a rapidly changing climate was no straight forward task. The TCL and Paul Thompson design team had to think laterally in order to come up with a planting palette that would not only thrive in today’s conditions, but also in the hotter and more extreme conditions forecast for Bendigo in future climate models.
To do this, inspiration was sought from other areas of the world that currently experience similar rainfall patterns and temperature variability to those projected for Bendigo in the next fifty years – areas as far away as South America and the Middle East.
The highly graphic layout of the gardens was inspired by the geological patterns of Bendigo and interprets the site’s famous Gold Rush history through a number of formal gestures. One of these is the circular lawns, which is a reference to the practice of ‘puddling’ – a method of extracting gold from clay that has left circular depressions in the landscape surrounding Bendigo.
The garden has three distinct areas arranged around an oval-shaped promenade, the “International Biome,” the “Australian Biome” and the “Fun and Fantasy Lawn,” which cuts through the centre of the site. The first is composed of imported species, the second of Australian species, and the third a fusion of both.
The International Biome presents a diverse collection of plants from South and North America, India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean that are suitable for the Bendigo climate. It draws connections between international plants and plants that are native to Australia.
The Australian Biome displays a range of plants from around Australia that can thrive in the Bendigo climate.
The Fun and Fantasy Lawn collection is the centrepiece of the garden – it is where weird and wonderful plants from Australia and around the world come together in unexpected and spectacular displays. This collection demonstrates to visitors that they do not need to choose between a native garden and an exotic garden; a well-composed combination of the two can produce great outcomes.
A lime-green pavilion designed by Peter Elliott Architecture and Urban Design sits at the southern end of the garden and provides amenities and a place to stage community events, such as performances, moonlight cinema, plant sales or anything else the community desires.
2019 AILA Victoria Award for Gardens
Location Bendigo, Victoria
Client City of Greater Bendigo
Collaboration Paul Thompson and Peter Elliot Architecture and Urban Design
Photography City of Greater Bendigo (top), Alison Hoelzer (rest)