By Lyn Mills.
It’s hard to believe that the Australian National Botanic Gardens is celebrating its 50th anniversary, when I still remember the good old days of it being the Canberra dump.
Sunday arvos, when tossing the long neck beer bottles at the tragic old cars at the bottom of the pit, was considered fun – as was burning your rubbish and autumn leaves in the 44-gallon incinerator up the back yard.
Well, the gardens have grown and prospered to become a haven on the edge of Black Mountain and a thriving mecca for our unique Australian flora and the occasional fauna who find refuge among the plants.
The recent hailstorm that swept through and broke every roof in the gardens was heartbreaking, as was the decimation of the Rainforest Gully. But it will come back and dodging rain on a cooler Canberra morning it was rather pleasant to wander rather than rush to the launch of the program for the 50th anniversary celebrations.
There was Underground Spirits to quaff, with champagne if preferred, and a very ‘Hestonesque’ panna cotta to savour at the launch after a speech by Genevieve Jacobs as the anniversary ambassador.
The 50th year will include a Banksia Festival, The Garden Party and an exhibition of giant Megafauna. But to finish off this incredible summer of disasters, their annual Summer Sounds will continue with two more weekend programs on 14/15 March and 21/22 March. Concerts will begin at 5pm and it is the nicest way to while away time on the Eucalypt Lawn.
But back to the Underground Spirits, with gin created by botanicals chosen from the gardens, bottled in an appropriately-labelled presentation pack – just the right thing for celebrating with just a hint of the Australian backyard.