ACT News


Community donations - and almost $1 million from the ACT Government - grow four new gardens to open at the National Arboretum Canberra on Sunday

Sausage sizzles at Bunnings to donations from philanthropists - and almost $1 million from the ACT government - have funded four new gardens opening this weekend at the National Arboretum Canberra.

The Gallery of Gardens on the Events Terrace will eventually have seven gardens, with the first four being opened to the public on Sunday with a range of activities planned, from kite flying to live music, from noon to 3pm.

The ACT Government providing about $900,000 towards five of the gardens, which was just over half their total cost. The remaining cost was being provided by individuals and organisations, according to a spokeswoman for the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.

The Labyrinth Garden was funded by Aspen Medical owners Glenn and Amelda​ (Mel) Keys.

Mununja the Butterfly Garden depicts a dreamtime story of the Ngunnawal people and was funded by arboretum chair John Mackay and his wife Collette.

The AIDS Garden of Reflection was funded by a range of donations as well as fundraising by Richard (Rachel) Allen who completed about five years of Bunnings sausage sizzles to contribute to the tally.


The Open Gardens Australia Celebration Garden honours Open Garden Australia's 27-year history and was financed by the organisation's last public donation. Former president of the organisation Tamie Fraser is due to open that garden on Sunday.

A Children's Garden funded by IT entrepreneur  and arboretum board member Brand Hoff and his wife Peta will be opened mid-year. It was the fifth garden to have funding from the government. The other two planned are for Gift of Life and a native plant association, with more fundraising to go.

Venues Canberra director Liz Clarke said along with each individually-themed garden, there would be avenues of trees, seating and lighting.

"The Events Terrace is being transformed into an area for functions, events and recreation which we hope the community will embrace," she said.

Australia's Open Garden Scheme former NSW/ACT chair Helen Stevens said the organisation wanted to create a garden to signify its work after closing in 2015.

It asked for concept plans from selected landscape architects and a panel chose Harris Hobbs Landscape.

Two other designs were also taken up, one for the AIDS Garden of Reflection (that of John Patrick Landscape Architects) and the other for the Butterfly Garden (Jim Fogarty's, who also won gold at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show).

Ms Stevens said they wanted a celebratory tone to the Australia's Open Garden Scheme space.

"Part of the brief was we had a space where they could have a marquee for celebrations so you could have your 21st or wedding there," she said.

AIDS Action Council executive director Philippa Moss paid tribute to Richard (Rachel) Allen who did about five years of Bunnings sausage sizzles to help finance the AIDS Garden of Reflection which provides a special haven for visitors to honour those who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS.

Mr Allen, who lost his partner Kim Rippon to AIDS in 1994,  said the garden afforded some privacy and contemplation, including a pond.

"In 1994 we lost 19 people to AIDS in Canberra alone and a lot of them were my friends. So this is for them too," he said.

For more information on the event visit or call 6207 8484. In the case of rain, all outdoor activities will be cancelled.