Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah

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The Fellows with the backdrop of the stunning Blue Mountains

Nestled among the Blue Mountains UNESCO World Heritage site, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah masterfully weaves plant textures of the Southern Hemisphere together, capturing the imaginations and hearts of thousands visiting each year. Originally the home of the Brunet family, who produced cut flowers sold in Sydney, the gardens were donated in 1972. Though first opened to the public in 1987, the presence of the basalt capped mountains encouraged plant life to flourish, growing rapidly and offering the appearance of a far more mature and established garden.

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Arranged by geographic origin, dense plantings complement and contrast one another through various texture, scale, and color

The Fellows were fortunate to meet with the garden’s Curator Manager, Greg Bourke, to learn about the garden proper as well as its premiere interpretative display, the Botanists Way Discovery Centre. Completed in recent years, the Discovery Centre provides active and passive educational experiences to an international audience of all ages and walks of life. Synchronized with the garden’s mission statement to connect people with plants through imaginative horticulture, beautiful landscapes, and transformative learning experiences, the shared stories focus on a historic mission to find rare plants in the local uncharted territory. The garden projects a future vision for the continued advancement of this interpretive tool, which may include interactive displays to encourage local community visitors to return again and again.

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The bog garden’s kaleidoscope of color draws the attention of visitors and is home to a few carnivorous plants

International Experience 2016: Australia

Holiday season is usually filled with hot chocolate, winter coats, and hibernation. But this year the First Year Fellows are packing sunscreen and summer gear in anticipation of their International Experience to Australia in January 2016!

Since July, the Fellows have been researching and developing an itinerary to explore the social impact of Australian gardens in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Longwood Gardens is finalizing a new strategic plan which prioritizes efforts to measure the effect of our education and community engagement programs on the wider world. In support of this, the Fellows will be traveling to Australia to learn how gardens down under are evaluating the short- and long-term impacts of their own programs. The Fellows will be visiting a variety of destinations in Australia, including world class zoos, gardens, and national parks.

The Red Sands Garden of Cranbourne Gardens, a branch of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Photo courtesy of R.Reeve.

The Red Sands Garden is one of the many beautiful features of Cranbourne Gardens Photo courtesy of R.Reeve.

Fellows will be researching specific programs at each organization that focus on community engagement and education. Through tours and meetings with local staff, the Fellows hope to learn more about Australian garden’s efforts to measure the impact of work they do and to build relationships with gardens on the other side of the world.The Fellows will be departing from the United States on January 10th to begin their exciting two-week research expedition through Australia. There will be daily updates of the journey on this blog, so check back here soon!