The National Arboretum in Canberra, ACT (100 forests each with 100 trees) which opened in 2013 now has one of Canberra’s best kept secrets among its mosaic of fledgling forests – a new regional botanic garden called STEP, short for the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park. This area has been designed to represent the native plants and trees typical to the Southern Highlands. These areas have forests, woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands.
Unlike all the other forests in the Arboretum, this forest has an understory of shrubs, herbs, grasses and ferns. As we walked down the path from the highest area to the wetlands I’ve concentrated on the flowering understory for photos, but just occasionally there is a lovely spring flowering Eucalypt..
…. this one is called Eucalyptus dalrympleana (Mountain Gum)
and a flowering Wee Jasper Grevillea ..
….. further down the path the open woodland area is being developed, the clumps of grass are called Poa sieberiana
Early the following morning I went back to take more photos, and I was reminded of my childhood in Africa ….. walking along paths lined by soft green grasses, and watching birds skimming through them…but in this botanical garden there are street lights in the distance to remind me that we are very near a carpark, and the expressway to the city is not too far away.
The only bird happy to have his photo taken is this cockatoo, who was very busy eating the tips of the grasses.
Here are some of the colourful spring flowering native plants and shrubs
and my all time favourite is this tiny Dianella revoluta flower, perfect in every way!
The frosty hollow area has species that need frost and cold air ..a favourite tree of mine is the snow gum (Eucalypt)
There is a small wetland for the plants suitable for this type of habitat.
This attractive rock amphitheatre has been constructed to use as an educational space. Over time the plan is to have regular groups of students to learn about the plants native to this area.
The Arboretum provides water tanks for STEP, and these are used to irrigate the fledging trees and shrubs.
Here is one of the dedicated volunteers watering the plants, the netting over his hat is a most efficient way of keeping the annoying flies away from his face (a sure sign summer is on the way).
The volunteers working on the STEP program are an inspiration. They are full of enthusiasm and very knowledgeable about all the plants that they see growing and developing every week.
When we arrived they were just packing up after a shared morning tea under the gum trees. What better way to spend a lovely warm spring day, being productive and useful and sharing that with like-minded people.
STEP is having an open afternoon with volunteers to show visitors around STEP and answer any questions about growing native plants in Canberra on Sunday 29 November 2015 between 12.30 – 3.00. Contact STEP