Nestled in the Adelaide Parklands to the north-east of the city centre, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens cover 51 hectares of beautifully landscaped themed gardens and include historic botanical architecture and a fine dining restaurant. They are one of three locations comprising the Botanic Gardens of South Australia, together with Wittunga and the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens in the Adelaide Hills.
When the gardens were first established, it wasn’t just exotic species that were planted to recreate the aesthetics of landscaped gardens in Europe, but also Australian natives. Once the gardens were connected to a reticulated water supply in 1860, the expansive lawns seen today were gradually established, and the large Owen Fountain added on its main path. The Bicentennial Conservatory lies in the garden’s east and stands as the largest single span conservatory in the southern hemisphere. Opened in 1989, the garden contains endangered tropical rainforest plants from Australia, Indonesia, the South Pacific and PNG, and is located alongside the Rose Garden where roses are trialled for their climate suitability. The Greek revival Museum of Economic Botany was established by one of the garden’s most influential superintendents, Schomburgk, in 1879 and today includes many of the original exhibits, together with modern temporary exhibitions and displays of aboriginal artefacts. The late-19th century Palm House is another magnificent piece of botanic architecture, housing a collection of plants from Madagascar, while the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion contains the immense Victoria amazonica flowering waterlily in its original 1868-built pond. Other notable features in the garden include the magnificent tree-lined Murdoch Avenue and the First Creek Wetlands, together with the Garden of Health and the Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden which serves as an educational space for kids.
The Adelaide Botanic Gardens has numerous entrances on Botanic Road, such as Frome Road and Plane Tree Drive, which are all served by public buses. The Botanic Road entrance is just a short walk from the South Australian Museum and Art Gallery on North Terrace, as well as the shopping strip of Rundle Mall.
The Adelaide Botanic Gardens officially opened in 1857 and were inspired by the Royal Gardens at Kew in London. George William Francis was the first superintendent to be appointed in 1855, and many of his visions are still evident today.