The Gardeners

Perennial Border

In the late 1980’s, the GBG and Friends together took over the two narrow garden beds on both sides of the central pathway near the Hitchcock Fountain; to establish a Perennial Border.  Advice was sought and received from the RBG Melbourne as their new Perennial Border was proving to be very popular.

By the mid 1990’s, there were six regular and enthusiastic FGBG volunteers who were planning, buying plants and maintaining the Border with minimal help from the GBG staff.  The Borders were doubled in width in 2001 and this allowed a greater variation in the height of plants selected.  A few shrubs were planted to introduce further structure and texture among the perennials and create year round interest.

Now in 2014, the Perennial Border is to change direction once again.  The Borders have again been widened and new plantings are to include a more formal aspect along the central pathway.  The intention is to create a planting that offers a panoramic view of the historic core of the Garden as you approach the Hitchcock Fountain. Plants that reflect each other are to be planted on both sides of the central pathway but, given that sun and shade vary, each side will present its own character.  More shrubs are to be added to bring permanent structure and reduce the workload of cutting back, dividing and replanting perennials in the deepest sections of the border.

Plant selection and planning in future is to be in consultation with GBG management.  Future displays will aim to feature ‘the unusual’ and demonstrate how selected GBG collection species can be incorporated into garden and display beds.

The ‘Perennial Team’ is forever seeking keen volunteers to join them on Wednesday mornings.  There are weeds to manage, dead heading and trimming of those plants eagerly claiming more space than they deserve.

Heritage Rose Garden

In 1997, the Western District branch of Heritage Roses was given the opportunity to redevelop the rose beds in the Geelong Botanic Gardens.  The layout was redesigned, creating ten beds in which approximately 300 roses were planted.  Placed in groupings, varieties progress through the species roses on the lower beds through to the more modern breeding of David Austin on the upper beds.

The Heritage Rose group funded the purchase of all plants until 2012.  However in the winter of 2013 it was decided that the first two garden beds, which are filled with R. Iceberg, needed rejuvenation.  We are indebted to the Friends of GBG who agreed to fund the new planting and have also agreed to fund any future replacements.  These beds are now looking fantastic.  Western District Heritage Rose Group membership has declined considerably over the years but we continue to maintain the rose beds, meeting regularly to ‘dead head’, feed and prune.  When necessary, such as during the recent heat-wave (January 2014), extra days are needed to ensure the beds are at their best.  Winter requires a big pruning effort and the team is grateful for the assistance of TAFE students and their ‘hands on’ pruning lesson to help us complete the task.

All members of the Heritage Rose Group are also members of the FGBG, this assists with the supply of new plant material and provides necessary support for a volunteer group working in the Geelong Botanic Gardens.  It is one of life’s great pleasures being “at the Gardens’’, we all enjoy working as volunteers at the GBG.

The Silver Border

The Friends were nearing 25 years of existence – a Silver Anniversary – and a suggestion was made to mark the anniversary by planting a temporary border of silver plants.  A bed was allocated on the main East-West central pathway, stretching from the Hanson Gates to the rose garden.  These beds were regularly planted with bedding plants and sat beneath two rows of palms.  The time frame was short; start late in 2009 and be finished by April 2010.  Meetings were quickly held between GBG staff and the Friends to come up with ideas.

An extensive list of silver plants was drawn up; the criteria being that they needed to be fast growing, suitable sizes and easy to obtain.  Eventually three FGBG members, already volunteers on the Perennial Border, whittled the plant list down to a couple of dozen possibilities.  Meanwhile, the GBG gardeners were hard at work preparing beds and tidying the lower reaches of the existing palm trees.  Plants were sourced by the Friends, or propagated within the GBG in a surprisingly short time.

About six weeks after the first meeting, GBG staff gathered to plant dozens of tiny specimens, which barely seemed enough to cover the expanse of ground.  Everyone watched over the weeks with some amazement as, with careful attention from the GBG gardeners, the plants flourished.  By the deadline of April 2010, the Silver Border looked well stocked and very attractive.

The Silver Border has been so popular that it is now part of the permanent display, the silver foliage contrasting dramatically with the lush green surroundings and forming a wonderful avenue beneath the palms that frame the central path into the heart of the Gardens.  Many of the original plants have reached the end of their useful life and their removal and replacement offers exciting possibilities to the structure of the Silver Border.  The ‘Growing Friends’ regularly use these plants for propagation and offer silver border species for sale in the FGBG Nursery.