Fronds. Newsletter of the Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens. No. 65 August 2010

The ANBG is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. This lovely magazine was sent to me by a friend, who knew of my interest in parks and gardens.  Herbaria and botanic gardens are, of course, archives of a different sort, keeping information about the botanical resources in an area or on a theme. 

The ANBG has an active and supportive group of friends who, over the years, have raised over half a million dollars for the Gardens and its associated activities.  They too are celebrating an anniversary – 20 years of this amazing support.  In addition to the fundraising, Friends have helped source seed for research projects, assisted in the Herbarium, provided physical support through volunteer guides and held concerts. However, the true treasure for me was the article by Dr David Headon, “In search of a ‘true’ botanic garden.”

In this article Dr Headon investigates the history of the ANBG, which has previously held that the antecedents of the Gardens were either Walter Burley Griffin’s 1911 plan for Canberra which incorporated an arboretum and botanic garden, or a 1934 recommendation from Dr B.T. Dickson of the Plant division of the CSIRO that a scientific botanic garden be established in Canberra.  Headon argues instead that first credit for the idea should be given to Charles Bogue Luffman, Director of the Royal Horticultural Gardens in Melbourne.  Loffman was present, in 1901, at the Congress of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors and others interested in the building of the Federal Capital of Australia.  In the papers of the proceedings, Luffman identifies 7 prinicpal features for a capital city, of which a botanic garden, featuring Australian native species was one. 

It would be great if we could track down the minutes of the meeting, and perhaps any correspondence Luffman may have had, to further explore the ideas he presents.


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Archivist, historian, avid reader

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