AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF AUSTRALIAN BOTANIC GARDENS BY RICHARD AITKEN

Exploring Australia’s fine network of botanic gardens had its genesis in the late 18 C, with a government garden on Sydney Cove.

Australia’s fine network of botanic gardens had its genesis in the late eighteenth century, with a government garden on Sydney Cove. Since then, and especially in the mid-nineteenth century, this modest beginning has dramatically expanded to include sites and institutions across the country. Having widely differing climates and geographical features, this network is today a thriving cultural and scientific resource. This lecture will touch on diverse aspects of this legacy, including growing and exporting Australian plants, acclimatisation of exotic plants, models and systems of administrative organisation, links with Kew and other international networks, ancillary facilities such as herbaria and libraries, regional botanic gardens, landscape design influences, changing political fortunes and circumstances, and shifting perceptions and foci.

Richard Aitken is a Melbourne-based writer, historian, and curator specialising in the history of gardens and designed landscapes. He has been in private practice since 1978 and has prepared conservation plans for many of Australia’s most significant historic places and has curated exhibitions for many of Australia’s leading cultural institutions including state libraries, botanic gardens, and the National Trust. He was a founding member of the Australian Garden History Society and for many years co-edited the Society’s journal. Richard’s work is recognised nationally and internationally and his books have become essential reading for anyone with an interest in Australian history and domestic design. These include The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens (2002), Gardenesque (2004), Botanical Riches (2006), Seeds of Change (2006), The Garden of Ideas (2010), Cultivating Modernism (2013), and Planting Dreams (2016). In recent years his research has focused on Portuguese garden history and its international contexts.

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