Revitalising Broken Hill’s Conservation Gardens with support from Sure Gro Tree Max Landcare Grant
Planting Day at the Conservation Gardens, Broken Hill
Project Background and Overview
The Conservation Gardens near Broken Hill’s town centre were originally designed to showcase plants suitable for growing in arid zone gardens. However, over time the site has fallen into disrepair, with many original plantings dying. The water system was broken with torn weed matting and rubbish adding to the unsightly condition.
Over the past couple of years. Landcare Broken Hill experienced a surge in volunteers. With this support, the Group took on the challenge to regenerate the Conservation Gardens, establishing a ‘Friends of Conservation Gardens’ Group. In late 2020, a Sure Gro Tree Max Landcare Grant provided the funding for the Group to implement their garden revitalisation project.
Broken Hill City Council was fully supportive of Landcare Broken Hill’s endeavour to redevelop this important Council asset and collaborated on the project, including repairing the irrigation system and assisting with on-going maintenance.
Regenerating the Conservation Gardens Project is a high priority for Broken Hill because of its potential to engage with the community in increasing awareness of the importance of indigenous vegetation in the urban environment. Broken Hill Conservation Gardens provides a valuable resource for the community, improving the environmental and aesthetic benefits of Broken Hill through growing drought tolerant native plants and using water-efficient gardening techniques, providing micro-climate benefits (shade, dust suppression etc.), attracting wildlife and enhancing the site for tourism.
Due to COVID restrictions and public parks being closed for much of 2020 and parts of 2021, the project suffered a number of setbacks and delays. Then, very unfortunately, in January 2021 the local Landcare Nursery was severely vandalised, destroying potting benches and watering systems, as well as the seedlings that had been propagated for the Conservation Gardens; coupled with State border closures making replacing seedlings all the more challenging.
Despite these setbacks, Landcare Broken Hill pushed on, with one volunteer making the 1000+ km return trip to collect replacement seedlings from a State Flora Nursery in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Another volunteer made a 1700km+ trip to pick up the Sure Gro products (fertiliser, planting gel, jute matting and tube planters) from Braeside, Melbourne.
In the few weeks of suitable planting weather in June 2021, right before further COVID-restrictions came in, Landcare Broken Hill organised a working bee where a team of volunteers removed weeds and prepared the 2,500m2 site for planting.
“This project has enabled our group to showcase many of the striking drought tolerant plants of the Broken Hill region that can create colour in our gardens, attract local wildlife and bring microclimate
Interpretive signage has been designed and printed, and will be installed in late 2021, when the Group can get back out to the Gardens. This will support both locals and visitors to learn more about the plants of the local region as well as their importance in the broader landscape.
Through creation of the Friends of Conservation Gardens Group and Council commitment, the gardens will have ongoing care and maintenance into the future. Landcare Broken Hill are now propagating plants in their newly repaired nursery, which will be planted in the Conservation Gardens over coming years.
Simon sums up the importance of this project, “A revitalised Conservation Gardens will help educate residents and organisations about the flora most likely to succeed in this arid environment and showcase species that have aesthetic and environmental benefits.”
“New plant signage and information boards will further help encourage and inform the public.”