On Friday 12 August, a number of members of APS NSW including Ralph Cartwright, Heather Miles and Michael Swire, along with around 50 invited guests, attended the official opening of the now re-named Grevillea Park at Bulli.
It is now known as the “Illawarra Grevillea Park Botanic Garden” The opening was conducted by Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, with the help of some local school children and she unveiled a plaque in the new covered picnic shelter.
She also opened a new rainforest walk, the Ellis Rowan Sensory Walk. Ellis Rowan was a well-known Australian artist and botanical illustrator in the early 1900’s. She also did a series of illustrations on birds, butterflies and insects. Ray put together a fascinating exhibition in the chapel showcasing some of her work.
Governor Beazley also launched a new book: The Illawarra Grevillea Park Botanic Garden: A Photographic Portrait. Much of the work on the book was done by long-time volunteers John Elton and Tracee Lea and captures much of the history in pictures and text.
After the official business was concluded, a scrumptious morning tea was served.
For those not familiar with the park, in the 1980’s the Australian Plant Society, Grevillea Study Group, had a very large collection of rare Grevillea and other rare Australian plants that had huge horticultural appeal.
At the time, these were mainly in pots, held at Ray Brown’s private nursery and lack of space was a real issue.
From this need for space, together with Ray’s drive and vision, Ray negotiated with Council and land was donated to create what has become Australia’s only Botanic Garden dedicated to growing and the study of Grevillea.
Nearly 40 years on, the Illawarra Grevillea Park Botanic Garden constantly gets better due the the enthusiasm and drive of Ray and a dedicated team of volunteers, including Michael Swire, leader of the newly re-formed APS Illawarra group.
The gardens are one of the locations to be visited next month by delegates from the Conference in Kiama and they are sure to be impressed, the gardens are looking spectacular as spring approaches. Tickets still available.