A new herbarium at the Canberra Botanic Gardens was the chief feature of the Gardens’ five-year development plan completed in 1974-75. The new building replaces overcrowded quarters in the administration building that contained 40000 specimens. The storage space for specirnens within the herbarium is the largest in Australia. During the five years automatic irrigation was extended over almost all ot the Gardens’ area together with sealing of access tracks and roads.
Visitor numbers have increased markedly and in 1974-75 more than 200 000 people toured the Gardens. Educational activity expanded with some 5000 schoolchildren in groups being taken on guided tours.
The Gardens are devoted solely to the propagation and display of Australian native plants and in this connection staff undertake field trips to obtain additional propagation material. Applied horticul tural research has been expanded, and staff contributed a number of papers to scientific journals and delivered others at conferences including the World Orchid Conference in Frankfurt and the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science congress in Perth.
Overseas demand for Australian seed provided by the Gardens under the international seed exchange scheme has more than doubled since 1971.
A new five-year plan for the Gardens has been prepared and if finally approved, the major construction item will be a conservatory for tropical plants. The Gardens’ present area of 40 ha is almost cornpletely cultivated and it is planned to extend the Gardens by about 32 ha to the south of the Black Mountain Road.
The Gardens are the responsibility of the City Parks Administration which in 1974-75 maintained 3200 ha of open space in the ACT with an average workforce of 783. The CPA’s responsibilities are increasing as Canberra grows—in 1974-75 another 180 ha of open space was added to its control.
Funds and manpower were restricted in the financial year and as a result cutbacks were necessary including reductions in mowing, watering and fertilising. Overtime was curtailed.