Iconic Adelaide Botanic Garden Palm House reopens as part of mass heritage revival programme

Date posted: 06 March 2019

Adelaide Botanic Garden has reopened the doors of its iconic 1870s Palm House following an eight month renovation to preserve the State heritage-listed building.

Seven other structures in the Botanic Garden have also been given a new lease of life through a restoration programme that the Botanic Garden and State Herbarium is undertaking to safe-guard its historical treasures.

The Palm House is a jewel in the crown of South Australia’s heritage places. It is the last glasshouse of its kind in the world and is home to a newly revitalised collection of Madagascan plants, many of which are at risk or endangered in their native habitat due to environmental degradation.

Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, said the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium is protecting its rich architectural, botanical and cultural heritage.

“Adelaide Botanic Garden has unique structures and artworks dotted throughout the estate, all with their own stories and history. It’s vital that we look after our built, natural and cultural heritage so that it can be enjoyed by people now and for generations to come,” said Minister Speirs.

 This project is important because it both preserves and activates a significant heritage place, considerably enhancing the public value of our beautiful Botanic Gardens.

Director of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, Dr Lucy Sutherland, says “The restoration has conserved the Palm House for the benefit of future generations who can enjoy and learn about the botanical collections, wonderful architecture and South Australia’s history.”

“The climate inside the Palm House replicates that of the arid regions of Madagascar from which the plants originate. Maintaining this special glasshouse allows us to protect and nurture the threatened biodiversity of a selection of Madagascan plants right here in Adelaide,” Dr Sutherland said.

The restoration works included salt damp remediation, corrosion protection, the first stage of new additions to the plant collection and pruning of some plants to allow light to reach smaller and now thriving specimens.

Other recent work at Adelaide Botanic Garden includes the restoration of the 1908 ‘Boy and Serpent’ Fountain in the Economic Garden, the Diana and Venus statues on the Main Walk, the bust of Linnaeus and a 19th Century Urn in the Class Grounds. The Molossian Hound statues on the Main Walk are also currently being restored.

The Palm House restoration cost $400,000 and was co-funded by the Department for Environment and Water and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.