Gardening glad rags: John Harrison, Town Crier Hedley Thomson and Pauline Knox celebrated Ballarat Horticultural Society’s big birthday last Monday. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Nurturing nature for 16 decades

October 10, 2019 BY

ONE hundred and sixty new trees will be planted by the Ballarat Horticultural Society this coming year in celebration of a special milestone.

The group is turning 160 this month, having begun on 18 October 1859 when a group of prominent men met at Bath’s Hotel, all with the common interest of forming a horticultural association.

Started initially by serious horticulturalists, in 2019 the club is a community-based organisation for anyone interested in gardening. It boasts around 100 members of varying abilities, ranging from 25 to 90 years old, and everyone is welcome.

President, Kelly Kerr said the society has experienced 16 decades of inspiration, planning, implementation and determination to “plant and grow” Ballarat. She’s “awestruck” to be part of it.

“It took men of vision to start this journey, and men and women of dedication and stamina to ensure the continuation and fulfilment of their dream,” she said.

“It’s not just a garden club, it’s about growing, the environment, sustainability and keeping our planet alive. Every one of us is part of this wonderful achievement.”

Having grown up in the Goulburn Valley, Ms Kerr finds all things Ballarat wonderful, from the statues to the trees.

She’s passionate about keeping the iconic green traditions of the city strong, has learnt so much from fellow society members, and is excited by their next project, planting 160 celebratory trees.

“I look forward to seeing our wonderful members, head down, bum up, planting the parks and gardens of the future.

We won’t stop there. If we are to survive, continue and grow, we must stay active and relevant,” Ms Kerr said.

The society’s long-term success and action is evident in the city’s key green spaces, like Lake Wendouree, the Botanical Gardens, Victoria Park, the planted avenues on Victoria and Sturt Streets, and the Avenue of Honour.

Even the established trees locals enjoy in precincts like Webster and Frank Streets are to be attributed to the Ballarat Horticultural Society.

Although the group has been ever-changing with advancing times, Vice-President Joy Jones said some things have stayed the same.

“We’re all interested in promoting gardening, and keeping gardening going because we are the ‘Garden City’ and sometimes that gets forgotten,” she said.