Learn about the fascinating history of this remarkable house and garden on a theatrical tour. As a guest of honor at the Manor House you will meet the ghost of Mr Sid Hoskins, the original home owner and one of the founders of Port Kembla Steel Works, and his eccentric Scandinavian garden designer, Paul Sorensen who will share their memories about the historic site. The tour commences at the main entrance to this beautiful old home.
Wollomgong Botanical Gardens
Wollongong Botanic Garden is a place of natural beauty where people come to relax, celebrate and learn more about plants and horticulture.
A collection of Australia plants that grow naturally in regions that experiene low rainfall
Developed in conjunction with the Succulent Collection, the Dryland Garden provides a desert landscape for arid inland Australian plant species that occur in low rainfall areas of 500mm or less.
These plants have developed with quite different adaptations to their exotic succulent neighbours allowing them to survive extended periods of drought, extreme summer temperatures, saline soil and fire.
Flowering Trees and Shrubs Garden
A garden collection displaying plant species from 13 exotic plant families
The Flowering Trees and Shrubs Garden was designed and planted in 1981. Following the discovery that the selected area had poor soils, tonnes of organic matter was imported onto the site to create kidney shape garden beds. These beds were then planted with a central windbreak of Cotoneaster or Oleander to offer respite from the howling westerly winds that at times ravage the site. Plantings within the garden beds have been strategically placed to allow plants to be viewed from both sides of the garden beds, with trees centrally placed, shrubs then groundcovers and perennials on the edges.
This garden collection contains eight garden beds displaying plant species from 13 exotic plant families including the Roseaceae, Malvaceae, Solanaceae, Apocynaceae, Fabaceae, Bignoniaceae, Sterculiaceae, Acanthaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Theaceae, Verbenaceae, Lamiaceae and Lythraceae. Each garden bed design showcases a collection of botanical species that represents each family.
The Camellia (Theaceae) collection was introduced in 1986 and showcases many specialty Camellias not commonly found in cultivation. Camellias were first imported into Australia in 1826 from England but the species originated from Japan and China. This plant collection is of high importance due to the current regulations preventing the importation of Camellias into Australia.
Many species from within this collection have uses beyond the garden. These include Lippia citriodora Lemon Verbena from the Verbenaceae family which has aromatic foliage useful as a tea. The Citharexylum spinosum Fiddlewood Tree from the Bignoniaceae family, is a useful timber used to make musical instruments. The Catalpa bignonioides Indian Bean Tree from the Bignoniaceae family, is valuable for medicinal purposes and highly used in the creation of posts, fencing rails, interior finishes and cabinet work.
Regular pruning of these plants encourages new flowers, improves their shape and maintains good health. The peak flowering period for this garden collection is during spring and into the summer period.
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More than 800 rare, endangered and uncommon palms species from around the world
Palms from collection
The Palm Garden contains more than 800 rare, endangered and uncommon palms species from around the world. Palms from Madagascar, Hawaii and the Oceanic regions feature strongest with a smaller representation from Australia, South America, North America and China. Many of these palms are endangered within their natural habitat due to a number of consistent factors from land clearing and soil erosion to introduced animal pest species and weed species.
Located on the original garden nursery and depot site, this 6,000m2 site was fenced from public access for more than 40 years. In 2013, initial plantings included 200 potted specimens and 17 large ex-ground specimens recovered from sites at risk from impending residential developments in Queensland. A further 600 plants were added to the collection between 2014 and 2015.
Many are dioecious, meaning that individual plants are single sex, producing either male or female flowers only. This collection has been developed to ensure these rare palms are planted in groups of the same species (male and female) in the hope that they will produce viable seed that can be shared with other botanical institutions to expand species distribution in cultivation.
This collection would not have been possible without the generous support from local philanthropist and palm collector Mr Colin Wilson, a member of the Palm and Cycad Society of Australia who has a vision for ensuring private collections of rare and endangered palms are moved to botanic gardens to ensure their long term survival. Additional project funding to transplant the larger specimens was generously provided by the Friends of the Wollongong Botanic Garden.
The Palm Garden was officially opened by Mr Colin Wilson and the Lord Mayor of City of Wollongong, Cr Gordon Bradbery OAM as part of the Botanic Garden Australia and New Zealand 7th Biennial Congress held in Wollongong during October 2015.
A collection of Illawarra, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Lord Howe Island & South Africa rainforest communities
Beginning with only a few remnant species and the natural creek line, plans were made in the late 1970s to create an area to resemble the Illawarra rainforest. Initial plantings took place in 1978 although major regeneration works were not undertaken until 1981 when 600 species native to the Illawarra were planted.
The current rainforest collection consists of both native and exotic rainforest communities. Dense plantings of tree species form the canopy and complement the remnant stands of Turpentine and Melaleuca to form part of the closed canopy, allowing only filtered sunlight as seen in natural rainforest systems. Mixed plantings of shrubs, ferns, epiphytes and ground covers represent the natural composition of a rainforest community allowing visitors to view these species in conditions they would naturally occur.
The Rainforest collection showcases a number of rainforest communities from Australia and abroad. The Illawarra Rainforest, the south-eastern component of this collection, is home to approximately 80 different species of trees and 15 different fern species from the region's dry, subtropical and cool temperate rainforests. Further north along the creek line species found in tropical North Queensland are represented. Small island beds have been created to display rainforest species found in New Caledonia, New Zealand, Lord Howe Island and South Africa. These geographical areas were selected due to their compatibility with the Illawarra climate.
Rainforests require high annual rainfall and are usually associated with high nutrient volcanic soils. These soils are well drained, deep and fertile. Generally rainforest plants are evergreen and have leaves with large surface areas to catch sunlight and shed water quickly. For this reason, most of the collection can be viewed all year round though the epiphytes flower in spring.
Rainforest species require shelter from westerly winds and thrive in a south easterly aspect where moisture loss from winds is minimised.
Rainforest seedlings are able to germinate in dense shade and will sit dormant until a gap in the canopy opens; this is usually the result of the death of older trees. Young seedlings then compete for the newly created space in a process called 'gap phase dynamics'.
Remnant Illawarra rainforests account for only three percent of the state's rainforest areas and contain about a third of all rainforest species in NSW. Many of these species are endangered or listed as vulnerable including Daphnandra johnsonii Illawarra Socketwood and Zieria granulata Illawarra Zieria. These are both endangered species endemic to the Illawarra region. Other species such as the Toona ciliata Australian Red Cedar were devastated by logging in the early 1800s, with many more species affected by clearing for agriculture.
Home to a mixture of hybrid teas, floribundas and standard rose as well as a beautiful gazebo
The Rose has long been a symbol of love, beauty, war and politics. The cultivation of roses began in 5,000 BC in Persia and China with the flower being used for display, food, medicine, and most commonly, perfume.
This Rose Garden is designed to portray a walled sunken European garden popular in the early twentieth century. Built in 1975, the high brick wall, covered by Ficus pumila Creeping Fig, shields the area from strong winds whilst the entrance paths are offset to encourage visitors to explore what lies within.
Sweeping the edges of the outer wall is a collection of perennials that creates year-round interest as flowers of all shapes, sizes, colours and texture appear from their rootstock.
The Rose Garden displays many rose cultivars and varieties including Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Old Fashioned, Weeping and Standard.
Some of the roses on display include 'Peace' which was smuggled to America from occupied France in 1945 and The Wollongong Gold Rose, developed to mark the 50th anniversary of Wollongong City in 1997. The peak flowering period for roses commences in mid-October and continues to April, with many weddings and celebrations taking place during this time.
The Rose Garden has undergone several changes since its development. The initial sunken garden beds have been mounded to provide greater drainage for the plants, whilst the original timber arbour has given way to the central rotunda that is inscribed with poems of love and love lost.
A poem dedicated to the Aboriginal stolen generation on the rear wall and a number of bequests, including that of Poppy Harris in 2006 can be found within this garden.
A diverse selection of species primarily from dry regions of the Americas and Africa
Construction began on this area in 1982. Thousands of cubic metres of soil fill was used to mound the area incorporating inclines, flat areas and broad slopes. Large boulders were installed to form rocky outcrops and the scree slope area. Planting began in 1983 and was completed in 1986.
The Succulent Collection features Aloe, Agave, Euphorbia, Mesembryanthemum, Crassula, Euphorbia, Yucca, Sedum, Kalanchoe and Echeveria species, many mature specimens when planted. One of the more spectacular specimens is the Dracaena draco Dragon Blood Tree. The red resin exudes from the bark after wounding. The medicinal and colouring properties of this resin, and that from other dragon trees, was recorded by the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome. It continues to be used in medicine, dyes, varnish and incense to this day.
Many succulents grow in semi-arid or temperate regions which receive intermittent rainfall each year. Succulents thrive in poor shallow soils and have shallow root systems allowing them to utilise water from small amounts of rainfall. Succulents have unique morphological (function) and physiological (form) adaptations to cope with drought and defend themselves
against enemies. Most retain water in their leaves, stems or roots. Many protect themselves with spines or thorns whilst some have waxy or woody protective coverings to reflect sunlight and decrease water loss.
The best time to view this collection is in June and July. This is the time when the Agave and Aloe send their flower spikes towering into the sky. In spring the carpet of mesembryanthemum flowers beneath the Dragon Blood Trees also provide a spectacular display.
A collection of cool climate trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials
The Woodland Garden was established in 1981. It comprises a collection of cool climate trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials predominately from the northern hemisphere. The pre-existing tree canopy of the native Turpentines and Paperbarks provided the required shade to establish this collection.
Initial plantings included a range of exotic trees, including Magnolia, Maple and Dogwood. These trees now form the mostly deciduous canopy that allows light to penetrate in winter whilst filtering the harsh summer sun.
An intensively planted area, the Woodland Garden features a tiered design of canopy trees with an understorey of small trees and shrubs sheltering the ground dwelling herbaceous perennials, bulbs and annuals. Many of the species are not commonly grown on the coast, but are thriving in this developed environment.
Woodland plants require a humus rich cool soil that imitates the natural accumulation of leaf litter or leaf mould. This habitat is achieved through the regular addition of organic matter aided by falling autumn leaves and the abundance of groundcover plants keeping the plant roots cool.
This garden also displays collections of unusual bulbs and perennials including Tricyrtis stolonifera Toad Lily, Polygonatum odoratum Solomon's Seal and Anemone Windflower.
Whilst many species within the Woodland Garden are recognisable for their blooms, some of the more interesting species within this garden are not as visible including the Osmanthus fragrans Sweet Osmanthus, a shrub that possesses tiny, strongly apricot-scented perfumed flowers that is highly valued in cooking in Asia as it is used for flavouring desserts and tea. Another interesting species is the Ruscus hypophyllum Ruscus. The plant's leaves have flattened stems or cladodes, hence its tiny white flowers appear in the middle of these leaf like structures and are followed by small red berries.
Whilst the Woodland Garden predominately peaks during spring, it does hold interest year round.
The Woodland Garden also features a gazebo donated by the Friends of the Wollongong Botanic Garden in 1990.
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