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Council adopts botanical gardens management plan

Botanical Gardens team members Jordan, Gill and Adam.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Mount Alexander Shire Council has adopted a new plan to guide the management of the much loved Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, which are among the oldest in Victoria and a valued public open space in the shire.

The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Conservation Management Plan (CMP) identifies the heritage values and significance of the gardens in a local and state-wide context.

It includes an assessment of the significant features of the heritage-listed gardens, with policies and actions to manage, renew and protect them for decades to come.

The botanical gardens are part of an important collection of provincial gardens. The plan covers the area gazetted as the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Reserve, which includes the caravan park and sunken oval as listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

“The conservation management plan is an important document of high quality that will guide how we manage and use the botanical gardens into the future,” said Mayor Christine Henderson.

“It builds on previous plans that have helped conserve the built heritage in the gardens, with a focus on managing the trees and gardens as a living landscape.

“The plan includes a risk assessment and considers real challenges and responses for the management of trees which are already showing signs of stress in response to climate change. It also aims to balance the recreational use of the gardens with protecting heritage values,” she said.

The plan includes a new Statement of Significance which will now be submitted to Heritage Victoria for review and approval.

Other recommendations include the continued management of significant trees, maintaining a diverse collection of large trees in the heart of the gardens, propagation of rare and unusual species, introducing a botanical record keeping system, consolidating the rose collection, re-establishing planting programs and adding contemporary displays to annual plantings.

According to the plan built heritage like the kiosk, entrance gates and curator’s residence at the caravan park should be restored while retaining reconstructed elements such as the rotunda, summerhouse and fountain.

Park infrastructure like the lower and middle bridges, stone weir, historical pathways and the 4Cs club tables will be conserved while the old fish hatchery will be documented and removed. The plan recommends the installation of botanical and interpretive signage, with more tours and furniture to improve the visitor experience. The suggested works will require the approval of Heritage Victoria.

Council has already endorsed plans to develop a concept landscape plan for the former tea rooms and adjacent BBQ area to improve access to the facility and surrounding landscape to attract more visitors, users and hirers. Staff are also investigating funding opportunities to restore the gates and fountain.

The CMP was developed by John Patrick Landscape Architects with input from conservation and heritage experts at Bryce Raworth Ptd Ltd.

An assessment of community values was shaped by a community survey in 2017, and the plan was updated to response to community feedback received on the draft earlier this year.

The plan will soon be available for view on Council’s website or at the Civic Centre in Castlemaine. For more information visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au.

Image: Botanical Gardens team members Jordan Maw, Gill Miller and Adam Philipson.

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