Botanical garden plan in Geraldton a blooming good idea

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Friends of Geraldton Gardens Chair Irene Ghannage in front of Maitland Park, which will soon be home to a botanical garden.
Camera IconFriends of Geraldton Gardens Chair Irene Ghannage in front of Maitland Park, which will soon be home to a botanical garden. Credit: Francesca Mann

Geraldton is one step closer to getting a botanical garden, with a local community group hoping to start construction by April or May.

Friends of Geraldton Gardens (FroGGs) have engaged Perth-based landscape architects Plan E to design stage one of the proposed garden, to be located in Maitland Park.

The design builds on an original concept plan which was approved by the City of Greater Geraldton in 2016.

The first stage of the botanical garden — estimated to cost $173,511 — will be situated in a small section of the public park, adjacent to the Maitland Street and Cathedral Avenue intersection.

Stage one of the proposed botanical garden would take up a small section of Maitland Park.
Camera IconStage one of the proposed botanical garden would take up a small section of Maitland Park. Credit: Plan E

All foreign plants and trees will be removed from the park and replaced with native flora found in the Mid West.

If the landscape architects’ plan is approved by council soon, FroGGs chair Irene Ghannage said work could finally begin by April.

“A botanical garden will make the town more beautiful and preserve the significance of our native flora,” she said.

“It will make a lovely entry statement to the city ... and there’s a lot of plant enthusiasts who will be really happy with it.”

FroGGs liaison officer Stan Maley said a botanical garden would be another great tourism drawcard for Geraldton.

“This would be a showcase garden in the heart of the city,” he said.

“(Visitors) don’t want to spend three hours driving out to Mullewa for wildflowers. They want to see it in 30 minutes.

“Our first priority is to have locals involved — it’s for them. Tourism is the spin-off.”

Eventually the small community group wants to turn the whole of Maitland Park into a botanical garden.

A sketch plan for stage one of the proposed botanical garden. The long-awaited project has been spearheaded by Friends of Geraldton Gardens.
Camera IconA sketch plan for stage one of the proposed botanical garden. The long-awaited project has been spearheaded by Friends of Geraldton Gardens. Credit: Plan E

Ms Ghannage said once the garden was completed community members would still be able to use Maitland Park for markets and other events, including the annual Carols by Candlelight.

“We want to maintain the event space, make it more beautiful and enhance those events,” she said.

“This is for the community. We don’t want to take that away.”

Before the design is brought to life, the community group plans to host a public workshop, inviting the community to be involved in the process and to share their thoughts on the plan.

Visit the Friends of Geraldton Gardens Facebook page for more information.

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