Saturday, 17 March 2012

SYSTEM GARDEN, MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY

One of my favourite places at my alma mater, the University of Melbourne, is the System Garden. The System Garden was designed by the University’s first Professor of Natural History, Frederick McCoy in concert with architect Edward Latrobe Bateman in 1856. The garden is unusual because unlike a botanical or ornamental garden, the plants were selected and planted according to an evolutionary system of classification – hence its name, System Garden.

In the original design, visitors could walk from the middle of the garden to the outer edges and trace the natural history of the evolution of the plant kingdom. You rarely see such gardens today, because it’s a scientific garden, and though it is ornamentally attractive, that’s not its key function. The garden originally covered a quarter of the University’s grounds and featured an octagonal glasshouse at its centre that housed several plant habitats. The gazebo, which still stands in the garden today, was the glasshouse’s central structure and marks the exact centre of the original garden. It was originally bounded by an acacia hedge, and though this was removed to make way for the Botany and Zoology Buildings which now occupy much of the original garden, some of Professor McCoy’s original plantings are still flourishing, including three towering palm trees, the Osage orange tree (Maclura pomifera), and some of the larger conifers.

Twenty years ago the garden was updated to reflect a more current system of classification – the Cronquist classification system – with the beds laid out according to plant subclasses. Although the garden is designed to highlight the science of Botany and the evolution of plants, it is also a beautiful space often used by students and staff as a quiet place to reflect, read or eat lunch. Property and Campus Services has recently commissioned a new conservation and management plan for the System Garden, which will enhance its ongoing value as a scientific, teaching, and recreational resource.

This post is part of James' Weekend Reflections meme.










16 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous place and such an interesting history, Nick! Of course, I love your photos and all the beauty you have captured, including the lovely blue skies! Terrific post as always! Hope you have a terrific weekend! Enjoy!

    Sylvia

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  2. Love that reflection showing pebbles, mossy rocks and leaves - wonderful capture Nick. Thanks for sharing - not just the images, but the background information too. Happy weekend.

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  3. Beautiful shots. My favorite is the second photo. ^_^

    Water Reflection

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  4. Hi there - interesting post - I did not know that about the gardens.

    But what are those mushrooms doing there - interlopers from another Kingdom!

    Stewart M

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  5. A great narrative for a beautiful place. The photography is beautiful. My favorite is the fern like plant at the foot of the tree. Love how the shot looks like a cyclonic swirl!

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  6. What a beautiful campus. I love the rocks and reflection shot.

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  7. What a wonderful garden and what a project it must have been to organize it.

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  8. I wonder how many of the people who work at UoM realise the history and structure of the System Garden. I suspect they simply see it as more gardens. If they see it at all ...

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  9. Beautiful garden.

    Regards and best wishes

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  10. Enjoyed reading it. My favorite is the one with a beautiful reflection of the sky.

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  11. What an amazing place just to enjoy beautiful plants and to learn. Wow! Great pictures -- is it open to the public all the time?

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  12. Such an interesting history to these gardens Nick, hopefully some of the people who work there today are aware of this. Beautifully shown, and i too love the reflection shot!

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  13. Beautiful place... looks very peaceful.
    Love the small mushrooms.
    Great pictures,
    Gisela

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  14. Love the mushrooms and the cycad next to those big roots!

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  15. http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/fears-melbournes-sacred-botanical-site-could-shrink-taking-a-slice-of-history-with-it-20161124-gswrc0.html

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