Ballarat’s historic SMB Botanical Gardens will re-bloom as part of a major re-development of Federation University Australia buildings on Albert Street, in the city’s central business district.
FedUni and the Victorian Government are working together to establish a Ballarat Technology (Tech) School and an extension of the Tech Park Central commercial operations as part of a joint $17 million refurbishment at the SMB site – and have earmarked funds to reinstate a section of the gardens.
The Botanical Gardens, established in 1879, were inspired by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, a botanist, and examiner at the School of Mines Campus. A surviving section of the original terraced garden provides a cool, shady retreat for students and staff at the University’s SMB Campus on Lydiard St South.
Darren Holland, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Support and Services), said the gardens were a significant part of the School of Mines teaching and learning, history, and the University was committed to maintaining and enhancing the gardens for the enjoyment of generations to come.
“The gardens will receive a major upgrade with up to 1000 new plants covering 40 species being introduced. New mulch and top soil also will be added to the existing site,” Mr Holland said.
“The revitalised gardens will be a major attraction of our SMB Campus and provide a restful and attractive drawcard for the community, students and staff.”
The gardens were originally developed to allow pharmacy and botany students access to botanical specimens in order to further their studies.
Baron von Mueller took a practical role in the development of SMB’s Botanical Gardens and became a generous benefactor who ‘donated collections of seeds and leguminous fodder plants.
In 1879, George Porter Day began to tend some 200 varieties of plants, mostly medicinal including borage, marigold, fennel, chamomile, caraway and yarrow. Day’s valuable contribution to the establishment of the Gardens was recognised in 1880 when he was employed as the School’s first gardener.