A whole new legion of fans are expected to be drawn to the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, south of Batemans Bay, when it reopens to the public later this year.
The Botanic Garden is already ranked as the region’s number one attraction by TripAdvisor, but manager Michael Anlezark expects it to attract a whole new market segment when it reopens after being devastated by last summer’s bushfires.
“We are building new display gardens that will offer people something inspirational,” Mr Anlezark said.
“Each garden will be built around a different house facade and will have a theme – coastal, wildlife, formal or cottage; featuring plants from our region and showcasing how they can be used in anyone’s front yard.
“People will be able to walk through each garden and learn about water use, the features of each plant and how they grow. They can then download the plans online and buy the plants at our nursery or from other local nurseries.
“Even the landscape materials will be easy to source locally.”
Mr Anlezark is confident the project will draw new visitors to the Garden.
“Some people may think the Botanic Garden is not for them, but everyone has a front garden and these displays will be on a scale anyone can do. Of particular interest to local gardeners will be the fire-resistant plants included in the display.”
Mr Anlezark said the new gardens were expected to be completed by September and were being funded through grants and the fundraising efforts of the Friends support group.
Thanks to good design and materials, recently completed buildings – a new visitors centre, café and herbarium – survived the fire that swept through the Garden on New Year’s Eve, however most of the 32-hectares of conservation area was seriously impacted.
“The next few months is about fixing basic infrastructure so visitors and staff can get around the whole site safely,” Mr Anlezark said.
“We want to make it better than it was before. We are building a new maintenance depot, we are starting to amass tools again. We are rebuilding timber bridges with steel frames, replacing some with solid paths, doing work that will make us less vulnerable to fires.
“We will use recycled bricks to replace mulch around buildings, so there will be an environmental aspect to it too.”
Mr Anlezark is hoping to reopen in July, but COVID-19 has also had an impact on the speed of recovery.
“We are working on a skeleton staff of volunteers,” he said. “We have an incredible number of very fit and able older volunteers who want to be here but we have to wait until it is safe for them. We really can’t function as well without them and I know they are frustrated they can’t help at the moment.