Adelaide’s Botanic Garden – The Bicentennial Conservatory

We’ve just had a short-ish trip to see the rellos in South Australia and a visit to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens was high on my list of ‘things to do’. Even the remark of one young family member, that they couldn’t see why anyone would think plants were interesting, didn’t put me off!

There are three main areas that I wanted to visit this time around, the first was the recently restored Museum of Economic Botany (MEB), the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion and the Bicentennial Conservatory. These are all centrally located in the garden the MEB and Waterlily pavillion being literally next door to each other, (each of these will have it’s own seperate post),

The Bicentennial Conservatory (designed by Guy Maron) is the most visible structure in the gardens, it’s humped-back shape resembling a glass Uluru. This is the one part of the garden where an entry fee is payable ($4.90 per adult or $10.20 per family 2 adults + 2 children). Entering the conservatory removes you literally and figuratively from the Adelaide landscape.The humid atmosphere providing a relief from Adelaide’s hot dry summer days.

While I have visited rainforests in Queensland the proliferation of palms and other thickly growing tropical vegetation still surprised me.


Clearly the plants are loving it here and quite a few are finding the conditions so congenial that they are fruiting as well.


There was plenty of action in the flowering department as well. Two very striking plants were the Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica) with its clusters of pedulous jasmine-like red flowers and the Red Hot Cat Tails (Acalypha hispida), following image.


There were also a few remaining flowers on the showy Powder-puff tree (Barringtonia racemosa) which is native to a wide range of countries around the Indian Ocean (including Australia) as well as parts of the Western Pacific.


My favorite part of being in the Conservatory is when I here the motors hum into life and then I know that the misting system is about to come on. This quite prosaic activity designed to maintain the conservatory humidity at 70-80% never ceases to surprise me with its atmospheric transformation of the building.


Once outside again it is worth a quick walk along the length of the building to have a look at the fountain made of glass at the other end of the building. Called  ‘Cascade’, it was designed by Sergio Redegalli and has 500 precision cut pieces of 6mm clear glass glued to the shape of a cascading wave. Clearly the local wildlife is enjoying it!


There was one quibble I had with the conservatory. Several terrariums with appropriate signage, apparently abandoned and in one case literally containing a mouldering dead Huntsman Spider, were all that was to show of the gardens much publicised use of insects as control species within the building. I have every sympathy for the difficulty of maintaining such displays – but – if you can’t maintain them please clean them out and remove the signs and the debris! It just made the building look rather shabby and neglected, not the effect I presume the gardens were trying achieve.


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