Five years of funding totalling $128,000 from the Australian Government Biodiversity Fund has seen Goondiwindi Botanic Gardens “come of age”.
Over 2,000 new plants have gone in, with a concentration on the mid and under storey and groundcovers. This was made possible by the maturing of the over storey plantings, first commenced in 1988. Kevin Sloan and Di Sheinberg have done all the on ground work, a massive effort. Before plants can go in the ground the sites have to be prepared by ripping, mounding, hole digging and weedmat installation. A slow release fertiliser tablet is placed in the hole, followed by setting the plant and filling around it. A tree guard is put in place, mulch is applied, and a dripper connected to the automatic watering system is installed. This attention to detail has seen an excellent survival rate over the years.
Another great boost from the Biodiversity Fund was the construction of our state-of-the-art propagation facility in the compound. The heater-mister unit, glasshouse and shadehouse all have automated sprinkling and misting systems which provide the necessary climate control. Kevin and others have put together a growing seed collection from the Gardens and elsewhere. Cuttings are freely available. We are now able to produce many of the plants we need to increase planting densities and replace short-lived species.
Because of the capacity we have developed a keen propagation group has started up with an initial 20 members. Bernadine Paesler has shown us how to strike soft woody cuttings, and we expect to become very productive at and between our monthly Sunday morning sessions. New members are welcome at any time.
The plants we grow will be for the Gardens but also for street and park plantings, restoration of riparian zones, and use by landholders in projects such as shade lines and even agri-forestry. When we are fully operational we will be taking orders for job lots.
All in all, the Biodiversity Project has been a great success. The Gardens are years ahead of where they would be without it. We are immensely proud of this magnificent community asset.