While Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is the younger sibling of Adelaide (opened 1857) and Wittunga (1975) Botanic Gardens, its history is no less rich and varied!

Discover some key dates in Mount Lofty Botanic Garden’s history with the timeline below:

1911: Botanic Gardens Director Maurice Holtze proposed the establishment of a cool climate arboretum in the Mount Lofty Ranges

1948: Newly appointed Director, 36-year old Noel Lothian, proposed and gained approval for a cool temperate garden in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

1952: First land holdings, 40 hectares, purchased

1954: Land gazetted for use as botanic garden

1959: First staff appointed and work on Garden commenced, with first plantings and first nursery established

1960: Rhododendrons were the first plantings on what is now Rhododendron Gully

1965: Landscape architect Allan Correy’s plan, developed in consultation with Director Noel Lothian, was finalised and considered a pioneering foray into landscape architecture master planning. It provided a systematic ecological approach to using each of Mount Lofty’s valleys to represent geographic regions of the world and leaving the ridges in their natural state

1972: Clearing of valleys commenced and plantings started

1974: Dwarf conifers planted and duck pond re-construction begins (’74-77)

1977: Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, now 97 hectares, opened to the public. Plantings reflected Noel Lothian’s experiences overseas, which included New Zealand, New Guinea, Europe, USA and China

1978: Main Lake constructed to conserve water supplies for the Garden and provide water security in the event of drought

1980: Ash Wednesday bushfire (20 February)

1981: Fern Gully commenced

1983: Ash Wednesday Fire devastated more than half the Garden, severely damaging much of its upper reaches (including Rhododendron and Viburnum Gullies). A State Government grant assisted in the reconstruction process

1987: First Greg Johns sculpture, ‘Guardian Figure’ commissioned and erected

1988: Sister City Japanese Flowering Cherry collection planted

1989:Nature Trail announced

1996: Collin Robjohns Gates by Greg Johns commissioned

1997: State Government funding into the redevelopment of Mount Lofty Summit allowed a further upgrade of the Garden’s infrastructure in response to growing visitor numbers

2003: A conservation study was commissioned to inform an updated master plan with a focus on regeneration of plants, the sustainability of collections and improved public access

2015: Mount Lofty Botanic Garden Support Group handed over the Chris Steele Scott Pavilion to the Botanic Gardens and the Lakeside Trail sculptures around the Main Lake were installed

2016: Lucy Sutherland appointed director

2020: State Government funding announcement for upgrades to Mount Lofty Botanic Garden car park, amenities and pathways.

2021: Michael Harvey appointed director (July - present)

2022: Official naming of Noel Lothian Viewing Platform which was relocated, with commemorative plaque, to near the lower entrance

Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia.

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