March 6th, 2021Your say on the Malmsbury Botanic Gardens
Macedon Ranges Shire Council wants input to the draft plan to deliver future strategic and sustainable management of the gardens.
Robert Newton, president of the Friends of the Malmsbury Botanic Gardens, says the draft Master Plan report, completed and published in 2019, contains over 120 pages of key recommendations compiled from the initial request for community engagement from the council.
“One of the concerns we raised in our original submission to the council is improving the water supply to the gardens,” Mr Newton said.
“Gisborne and Kyneton Botanic Gardens have recycled water systems while here at Malmsbury the gardens are watered only from run-off mains water and the rain,” he said.
The Malmsbury gardens, listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, date back to 1855.
Magnificent specimens of mature and over-mature trees, including giant sugar gums and coastal sequoias, surround a lake created from a natural billabong.
It is an unpretentious botanic garden without the colour and order of flower beds seen at the likes of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
Having more of an arboretum appearance, there is a pinetum; two avenues, one of elm, the other of poplar; and two striking Bunya Bunya pines, listed on the National Trust register of significant trees, within the gardens’ boundaries.
Chris Bromley, treasurer of the Friends committee, says the organisation feels strongly about preserving the gardens’ heritage.
“The council should undertake an audit of every single tree,” Mr Bromley said.
“This would ensure once past their prime they are replaced with what will last for another 150 years.
“We also want all the trees and plants located on-site to have a name plaque.”
The gardens are a treasured feature of the town and very popular with locals and visitors alike.
The Malmsbury Village Fayre annually filled the gardens with stalls, live music, local produce, and activities for young and old until the pandemic in 2020.
“People picnic around the lake, weddings are held under the trees, and the gravel walking track benefits our dog walkers,” Paula Needham, secretary of the Friends committee, says.
“Also, there have been geese and goats in the gardens since 1870. While the goats are long gone, the geese still consider the gardens and the town their domain.”
The council will make the draft Master Plan available to the public for six weeks to facilitate feedback. If necessary, it will be amended, then finalised and submitted to the council for adoption.
However, the council currently has not committed to funding implementation of the Master Plan.
The community can provide feedback online at mrsc.vic.gov.au/yoursay or by email or written submissions until March 29.
Words & main image: Carol Saffer
Pictured, from left, Paula Needham, Chris Bromley and Robert Newton at the edge of the gardens near the Malmsbury Viaduct