The Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens, located at 1 Old South Road in Bowral, has been designed by landscape architects Taylor Cullitty Lethlean as a journey through the Southern Highlands.

The journey

Starts on arrival and the visitor’s centre, then leads out to the ‘Town’ garden of intricate garden beds closely planted.

The meadow garden, representing the outer urban and farm areas of the highlands, is park like  with widley spaced trees and ample lawns, surrounded by a backdrop of tall gum trees.

The eastern precinct of the garden will be developed as a natural garden, representing the vast National Parks and native vegetated areas of the Highlands. A special interest area will be the re-establishment  of the endangered Shale Woodland Community which originally covered the area of the Botanic gardens before it was cleared for grazing. Included in this planting will be the endangered Eucayotus macarthurii (Paddy’s River Box) which has a very limited distribution within the Southern Highlands. This eucalypt is endangered as much of the community in which it grows has been cleared for farming and residential development.

Materials used

for construction in the gardens will reflect the materials available within the Southern Highlands, including sandstone, basalt rock and trachyte (microsyenite) previously quarried from Mount Gibraltar (the Gib). In time the Botanic Gardens will be complemented by a botanic centre designed by John Wardle Architects.

The theme

to underpin the establishment, plantings, design and operation of the Botanic Gardens is that of the distinct seasons in a mainly cool climate where water resources are increasingly scarce.

The Botanic Gardens will acknowledge the contribution to botany by Louisa Atkinson who was born and died at nearby Oldbury, Sutton Forest, in the 1800s. Louisa Atkinson was active in collecting and illustrating local flora, which were sent to Von Mueller at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Von Mueller was so impressed by the accuracy and detail of Louisa Atkinson’s botanical collections he named 4 species after her. The majority of the art collection of Louisa Atkinson is currently held in the Pictorial Collection of the State Library of NSW.

Janet Cosh, Louisa Atkinson’s granddaughter and resident of Moss Vale, will also be recognised. Janet Cosh continued the family tradition of collecting and illustrating local flora and fauna. She provided the financial resources to establish the Herbarium at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens which now house her herbarium collection.

The Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens will seek to educate the general public about horticulture and landscaping, plants and biological communities, and raise community awareness about biodiversity and plant conservation. It will also be a centre for study and education for botany and horticulture students; for school aged children with regard to all aspects of the environment; and for amateur and professional garden enthusiasts alike.