The Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens, to be established on the site located at the corner of Kangaloon and Old South Roads, East Bowral, is proposed to be a mix of exotic, native, and endemic species within a benchmark of 70/80% exotic –30/20% native/endemic. The gardens will include a shale woodland, the endangered ecological community endemic to the site.
Materials used for construction in the gardens will reflect the materials available within the Southern Highlands, including sandstone, basalt rock and trachyte (microsyenite). In time the Botanic Gardens will be complemented by a botanic centre.
The theme to underpin the establishment, plantings, design and operation of the Botanic Gardens is that of four distinct seasons in a mainly cold climate environment where water resources are increasingly scarce. Specific areas within the Botanic Gardens will be created to allow a link to the annual Tulip Time Festival, which would remain centred around Corbett Gardens in Bowral.
Botanic Gardens have study and education as core purposes. It is proposed that the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens will develop and undertake research on a collection of trees and shrubs, including those identified by Louisa Atkinson and Janet Cosh.
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.