It was just three weeks after the Second World War ended in 1945 that the city's head of Parks and Gardens asked for 1000 pounds to get started on a botanic gardens for Canberra.
It would be another 25 years before the gardens, on the lower slopes of Black Mountain, were officially opened by then prime minister John Gorton.
In the five decades since, the Australian National Botanic Gardens have grown to become centre for science, conservation and research, as well as a premier tourist destination - a beautifully cultivated wonderland in the centre of the bush capital.
But what was supposed to be an anniversary year packed with events has turned into a year like no other.
Garden director Judy West said 2020 had been a nightmare that had, fortunately, turned into more of a pleasant surprise.
Speaking about celebrations marking the gardens' 50th anniversary, she said while the institution had, like many others, suffered through the horror summer and the COVID lockdown, it had become a source of comfort for many Canberrans seeking outside activities.
And unlike other institutions that rely on interstate visitors, the gardens have been packed with visitors enjoying the weather.
"September this year is only 5 per cent lower than September last year...the car parks have been overflowing by 10 o'clock in the morning, on these nice sunny days," she said.
"I feel a little bit like people have rediscovered the gardens, because you'll find that with young families, the adults haven't actually been here since they were kids. So I think that now we're probably seeing all this revisitation."
It's a relief at the tail end of an awful year; the gardens weathered the severe heat waves and bushfire threats from mid-December 2019, strong winds and heavy smoke that forced it to cancel most of its signature summer events.
And then there was the freak hail storm on January 20 that tore through the gardens and wreaked unimaginable havoc, particularly in the popular rainforest gully.
"We had massive damage," Dr West said.
"A lot of the plants in the rainforest gully below the walking bridge were stripped, all those tree ferns, and the leaf litter was about [a foot] deep on boardwalks."
Curator of living collections David Taylor was in his car on the way back to the gardens when the hail hit, and returned to a scene of utter devastation.
"It was incredibly confronting - there was not just the huge amount of damage to the plants, but the infrastructure of the whole place," he said.
"It was such a severe, localized hailstorm, it was devastating, people were upset and cars written off all over the place. It was just a state of chaos, really."
Mr Taylor said the COVID lockdown had been something of a blessing in disguise, as it meant staff could focus on repairs and maintenance.
"Typically, we're working with the public all the time, and so we tend to limit some of our operations to when it's quiet, or early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or what have you," he said.
"But without people in the gardens, it meant that we were able to really take advantage of doing some of those things throughout the day that changed the way we programmed things.
"And in a selfish sense, it was really unusual and lovely to have that moment of the gardens to ourselves, and enjoy the spaces and so on. Of course, we love people coming to the gardens, that's why we're here, but ...as a team in isolation, meant we could really respond quite quickly."