Canberra’s native gardens around Parliament House

Parliament House in Canberra covers an area of 33 hectares on Capital Hill. There are 10 hectares of turf (easy to see) and 13 hectares of garden beds. I have written a post on the courtyard gardens, but native gardens around the building actually make up about nine hectares of the gardens.

IMG_5637 (640x390)In 1988 the native gardens were originally planted as a dense understory beneath the canopy of trees.

Canberra suffered a very long drought, starting in 2003 ….the native gardens were watered until 2006 when the whole region began severe water restrictions. To achieve a 45 per cent reduction in water use, the irrigation of the native gardens was stopped. As with many gardens in Canberra, some plants were lost,  others adapted well, and some were replaced by shrubs that could tolerate drier conditions.

Here are some of the native plants that have survived and thrived…..

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Hairpin banksias (Banksia spinulosa)
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An early flowering Bottle brush (Callistemons) in this part of the garden
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Grevillea ground cover
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Grevillea shrub
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Purple Mint Bush (Prostanthera ovalifolia)

The gardens fit into the landscape so well that it is surprising to find paths winding throughout the shrubs and trees, it is easy to forget we are walking between Parliament House and a busy road!

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Tennis courts, for use by all parliamentary staff, are almost hidden amongst the trees..

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and a Senate oval is used for volleyball, football and touch football. The hedge of Bottlebrushes are unfortunately not flowering yet, we’ll come back later for them.

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The plants at either side of the Senate oval steps are hairpin banksias and white Correas

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Natives grasses are used as boundaries between one garden and another….unfortunately the snowy river wattle (Acacia boormanii) has almost finished flowering (behind the native grasses)

I love the white barked gum trees which can look spectacular in the evening or early morning light.

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This is the perfect habitat for birds, but, today, we’ve only seen the larger birds around…. ravens, magpies, and of course…..a currawong being swooped by poor swallows as they try to defend their nest.

It must be spring!

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a Magpie studiously ignoring the frantic call of a Plover.
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a Currawong looking out for the swallow’s nest…

The Senate gardens are slightly different to the House of Representative gardens, so I’ll write about that in a new post.

4 Replies to “Canberra’s native gardens around Parliament House”

  1. Very interesting. I make it a point to use lots of North American natives, though I don’t use them exclusively. Some of your natives are now used here, though more on the west coast. I like the Purple Mint Bush.

    1. Interesting to hear of Aussie natives being grown on the west coast. Yes, I love the Purple Mint Bush, we are going to plant one this spring…nice to get a hardy, low maintenance shrub that is eye-catching as a bonus!

  2. sorry, it’s taking me a moment to adjust to choosing the turf, rather than the Australian plants.

    Grevillea is interesting and twirly. Looks a most inviting place for a long walk.

    1. Yes, the people working at PH are lucky to have native gardens and tennis courts etc close at hand, but I doubt most people have time for a lunch time game of tennis these days!
      I love the Grevilleas…we are seeing plenty of them this week as we are visiting the south coast (a few hours away from Canberra, but a much more temperate climate) and the grevilleas and bottlebrushes are looking lovely here. (I feel a new post coming on…)

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