Landscaping set to begin at Ballarat Botanical Gardens Fernery

Terry O’Brien, Donna Thomas and Wayne De Klijn stand in front of the Ballarat Fernery

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens Fernery will soon become a gallery for Australian ferns, with landscaping set to get underway this week.  

AQL Landscape Design has been awarded the contract to deliver the landscaping, which will be completed in time for the 2024 Ballarat Begonia Festival.

The works will create a new entrance to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens via Wendouree Parade, with the introduction of a fernery forecourt designed around the Claxton Monument.

Landscaping will take place at the rear of the structure and connect the fernery and the rest of the gardens.

The design and landscape delivery of the fernery project is being funded by the City of Ballarat ($340,000) together with funding of $150,000 from Growing Victoria’s Botanic Gardens Grant Program, the Friends of Ballarat Botanical Gardens ($200,000) and Ballarat Botanical Gardens Foundation ($50,000).

The entrance will include additional seating in the form of bluestone rock walls with timber sections, matching the existing bluestone walls and the fernery cladding. Two new entrances at the rear of the structure will also be created.

The landscaping designs, completed by Andrea Proctor Landscapes, feature a large Elk Horn fern, which now sits in the Gardens Nursery.

Inspired by 19th Century garden design features, paving patterned in the shape of fern fronds will lead from the Wendouree Parade entrance to the fernery while the landscaping will also feature timber and bluestone seats.

Two small Juneberries at the front of the fernery will be removed. All other trees will be retained and protected.

The Ballarat Fernery is one of only two examples across the state of a grand Victorian plant house.

City of Ballarat Councillor Daniel Moloney said the landscaping will create an incredible new garden experience within the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

“We are excited to deliver these transformational landscaping works in the fernery precinct in time for next year’s Ballarat Begonia Festival,” he said.

“This landscaping will create another outstanding experience for those who visit our spectacular Ballarat Botanical Gardens.”

AQL Landscape Design recently designed the Vietnam Veterans National War Memorial in Seymour.

AQL Landscape Design Principal Wayne De Klijn said the experienced landscape architect, construction and horticulturalist business was excited to be working on this significant project.

“It’s fantastic that the fernery is being brought back to life,” he said.

“Once completed, the landscaping and planting will create a fernery with a cool and calming feel to the Botanical Gardens in warm weather.”

Friends of Ballarat Botanical Gardens President Terry O’Brien said the Friends have long advocated for the redevelopment of the fernery and are pleased to contribute $200,000 towards the project.

“The Friends have worked hard to bring this new experience and landscape into the Gardens and are proud of this addition,” he said.

“It will be another wondrous and informative part of the gardens for all visitors and will strengthen this regional Garden’s tourist appeal.”

Ballarat Botanical Gardens Foundation Chairman Mark Schultz said the Foundation was very pleased that the landscaping works for the fernery are about to commence.

“This has been a long journey and the works undertaken in this stage of the fernery development is the next step towards completion of this iconic Botanical Gardens structure,” he said.

The works will be carried out in accordance with a Heritage Victoria permit.

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens has continuously showcased a fernery since the 1880s, one of the few gardens in Australia to do so, making it a rich part of Ballarat’s history.  

Ballarat City Council approved the landscaping works at its 25 May 2022 meeting.

The existing fernery infrastructure will be retained. Future projects associated with the fernery and the broader Botanical Gardens precinct will be considered as part of the review and update of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Master Plan. Work to develop the Master Plan will begin this financial year.

Works on the fernery project began in July 2019 with the demolition of the former fernery building. Construction on the new $1.7 million stage one structure commenced in June 2020 and was completed in 2021.

The new fernery is a steel framed replica of the original timber building. It is clad in timber to match the original building.