The Bundaberg Botanic Gardens' conservation efforts have expanded to incorporate rare and scarcely seen varieties of cycads with a history spanning 300 million years.
The new cycad garden was inspired by the passion of Bundaberg Regional Council horticulturist Caleb Bird who has added a new dimension to the serene surroundings of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.
What has emerged is testament to Caleb’s dedication and the desire to educate and conserve with the cycad garden poised to become a captivating attraction for locals and visitors alike.
Caleb’s interest and vast knowledge of cycads began as a child watching his dad who owned a nursery.
“Cycads have a history spanning 300 million years and have faced the challenges of poaching and deforestation, resulting in a dramatic loss of non-cultivated populations,” Caleb said.
“The garden's contribution is not merely aesthetic.
“It is a dedication to ensuring the survival and longevity of these remarkable plant species.
“The educational and conservation value of the cycad garden is paramount.
“The garden will educate visitors on the significance of preserving these ancient botanical wonders and highlight the role cycads play in maintaining the planet’s biodiversity.
“These prehistoric plants bear witness to the changing landscapes of our planet.
“By featuring species that are rarely cultivated, the garden serves as a living testament to the importance of cycad conservation.”
Caleb explained how he initially proposed the idea of transforming an unused space into a cycad garden to his supervisor.
“From there the seed of innovation was sown,” Caleb said.
“The process involved meticulous planning and hard work.
“The area was cleaned, freeing it from the clutches of undesirable weed species.
“A two-tier retaining wall was constructed, creating a picturesque landscape for the cycads to flourish.
“A pathway was installed between the walls not only enhancing access but also elevating the overall visitor experience.”
Caleb believes an essential aspect of the cycad garden is its diverse collection of cycad species.
“Many of these remarkable plants were sourced from a specialist nursery in Brisbane, while others were donated from my personal collection which consists of around 500 plants,” he said.
“This careful curation of species ensures that visitors will encounter a wide range of cycads, including rare and scarcely seen varieties.”
Maintenance of the cycad garden is straightforward due to the natural resilience of cycads.
They are hardy plants, originating from dry regions, require minimal care, with the occasional removal of new shoots to maintain aesthetic appeal.
The choice of cycad species with minimal pest and disease issues ensures that maintenance remains a manageable task.
Caleb appreciates the efforts of the Botanic Gardens team in helping to bring the project to life which he said was dedication to ensuring the survival and longevity of this remarkable plant species.
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