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Open Gardens Australia Celebration Garden

Background

The Open Gardens Australia Celebration Garden is a lasting tribute to Open Gardens Australia's twenty seven year history (1987-2016) and success in opening almost 20,000 gardens and raising more than $6 million for charitable causes.

Mrs Tamie Fraser AO was the patron of Open Gardens Australia.

Open Gardens Australia has generously funded the development of the garden; a truly wonderful gift to the Arboretum and all Australians.

Harris Hobbs won the design competition for the Open Gardens Australia Celebration Garden, run by Open Gardens Australia and the National Arboretum Canberra.

Designed by Neil Hobbs for Harris Hobbs Landscapes. Constructed by Able Landscaping Pty Ltd in 2017. Opened 2nd April 2017.

Turning of the soil 27 June 2015

Mrs Tamie Fraser OAM, Patron of Open Gardens Australia, and Andrew Buchanan, Board Member of Open Gardens Australia, at the OGA Garden dedication
Mrs Tamie Fraser OAM, Patron of Open Gardens Australia, and Andrew Buchanan, Board Member of Open Gardens Australia, at the OGA Garden dedication.

Mrs Tamie Fraser OAM, Patron of Open Gardens Australia, Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Neil Hobbs, Landscape Architect, and Karina Hobbs at the OGA Garden dedication.
Mrs Tamie Fraser OAM, Patron of Open Gardens Australia, Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Neil Hobbs, Landscape Architect, and Karina Hobbs at the OGA Garden dedication.

Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Shane Rattenbury, today announced the selected design for the new Open Gardens Australia Garden at the National Arboretum Canberra.

Together with Mrs Tamie Fraser OAM, patron and tireless ambassador for Open Gardens Australia, Minister Rattenbury turned the sod today for the new garden, the first in the Arboretum's Gallery of Gardens. They were assisted by the recently elected President of the Friends of the National Arboretum Canberra, Ms Trish Keller.

The Open Gardens Australia Garden will be created to honour Open Garden Australia's long history and success in opening almost 20,000 gardens and raising more than $6 million for charitable causes over the past 27 years.

A selected panel of garden designers and landscape architects were invited to submit designs for this new addition to the Arboretum. The designers were asked to draw inspiration from the theme 'artistry of gardens' and to reflect the goals shared by the Arboretum and OGA.

The design selected was submitted by local landscape designer Neil Harris from Harris Hobbs Landscapes. The design concept for the garden fulfils the 'artistry of gardens' theme and will feature a grassed marquee space, a bird bath and various seating and paved areas. It contains a mixture of Australian and exotic plants, reflecting the diversity of gardens that were showcased by Open Gardens Australia.

Open Gardens Australia has generously funded the design and development of the garden; a truly wonderful gift to the Arboretum and all Australians.

Guests at the Open Gardens Australia Garden dedication. Photo courtesy of GardenDrum.com
Guests at the Open Gardens Australia Garden dedication. Photo courtesy of GardenDrum.com

Theme

Harris Hobbs designed the garden using the Australian rising sun metaphor and a mix of indigenous and exotic plants suited to the tableland climate and reflecting the diversity of gardens showcased by Open Gardens Australia.

The Celebration Garden designers drew inspiration from the theme 'artistry of gardens'.

The garden space embraces visitors and encourages entry. The radial hedges represent rays of sunshine breaking across the land. The landscape setting is unmistakably Australian, looking out across Lake Burley Griffin over the designed and natural landscape of Canberra, containing the gardens and event locations that were part of Open Gardens Australia for 27 years.

The entrances are flanked by native plants, with the centre planted with exotic plants referencing those commonly used by early Australian gardeners as a refuge from the harsh inland Australian climate. The selection of hardy evergreen hedges and mixed deciduous and evergreen exotic shrubs make a further reference to the history of Australian garden design and garden designers who worked in the Southern Tablelands areas of New South Wales such as Edna Walling and Beatrice Bligh.

The use of Banksias and locally sourced Grevilleas recalls the writing and illustrations of May Gibbs, whose garden, 'Nutcote', was another regular on the Open Gardens Australia calendar.

Entrance

The garden space can be entered from either side. Each is a mirror of each other, with planting and garden bed layout reflected on the centreline. The entrances are marked by Banksia serrata, with underplanting of hedged Podocarpus lawrencei, a local plant from alpine areas of the Territory. Shrub beds of local Grevilleas and Callistemon are contained by exotic hedges.

The entrances are marked by stone plinths with "Open Gardens Australia" cut into the stone as signage.

Central space

The central space consists of:

  • Irrigated grass, with space for a 10m x 6m marquee for events
  • Paved areas, seating, and a shallow ramp up to a ceremonial space
  • A ceremonial space backed by a dry-stone wall, incorporating a stainless steel representation of the OGA 'growing spade' logo by Geoff Farquhar Still of Artillion
  • A reflective steel bowl/bird bath, allowed to fill and drain with rainfall and evaporation, acting as a marker to our dry landscape and the need for gardens to respect their local climate
  • Deciduous trees, crepe myrtles and flowering cherries
  • A variety of clipped and rounded hedges to frame and edge the garden beds, Buxus sempervirens, Buxus microphylla japonica, Podocarpus lawrencei and Osmanthus 'Heaven Scent'.

The ceremonial space marks and celebrates all that OGA has achieved in their 27 year history for the thousands of staff, volunteers and garden owners who participated in the organisation over the years.

The planting palette recognises the garden will be an oasis for contemplation that will inspire the gardener in all of us by showcasing expert design, which reflects the spirit of the National Arboretum Canberra and Open Gardens Australia.

Landscape features

  • Brick paving referencing the local red bricks from Yarraluma Brickworks to mark entry.
  • 'Secret mortar' sandstone wall and entry walls. Stone from The Blue Mountains, constructed by Rock Solid masonry.
  • Stone letter-cutting of the sandstone welcome plinths by Ian Marr, a stone cutter from Araluen, NSW.
  • Stainless steel representation of the OGA 'growing spade' logo by Geoff Farquhar Still of Artillion
  • A shallow spun steel bird bath in the centre of the space, as a focal point and also as a reflection pond.
  • Bench seating.

Maintenance

The garden will require seasonal maintenance for hedge pruning and regular lawn mowing, but little other maintenance other than 'normal' levels of seasonal works including fertilising, light pruning

The garden is proposed to be irrigated – lawns and garden beds.

Plant Selection Criteria

All plants chosen are frost hardy and able to survive well in Canberra conditions.

Species list

Trees

Acer 'Crimson Sentry'
Acer japonicum 'Vitifolium'
Acer 'Bowhall'
Banksia serrata
Prunus serrulata 'Kanzan'

Shrubs

Buxus microphylla japonica
Buxus sempervirens
Chaenomeles japonica

Raphiolepis 'Oriental Pearl'
Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite'
Callistemon 'Mauve Mist'
Osmanthus 'Heaven Scent'

Accent and Ground Covers

Grevillea lanigera
Gardenia radicans
Kniphofia
varieties
Lomandra longifolia 'Tanika'
Juniperus squamata 'prostrata'
Podocarpus lawrencei

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