A SPLASH of green with a $1.4 million price tag will revamp the Ballarat Botanical Gardens’ ailing fernery.
After 15 years of lobbying and three master plans later, the Friends of the Botanical Gardens finally secured funding in the Ballarat City Council’s draft 2015-16 budget set to be released on Wednesday.
More than $1.4 million was earmarked to completely remodel the gardens’ neglected fernery.
Friends of the Botanical Gardens fernery project convener Elizabeth Gilfillan said the group was thrilled.
“We are absolutely overjoyed,” Ms Gilfillan said. “It will give us an opportunity to expand the current garden for the wider community and revitalise it into an educational and environmental resource which will be wonderful for tourism and create links between other cities and other botanical gardens.”
Architectural drawings sketched by renowned landscape architect and designer Andrew Laidlaw show a complete revamp of the fernery, in keeping with the grand Victorian style of the gardens.
Plans include building a sensory garden, interactive education centre and series of spaces, each with a different plant focus, with pathway links to the rest of the gardens.
Last year, the fernery was shut for months after being deemed too unsafe for the public. It has been more than 50 years since any significant investment in it.
Ms Gilfillan said the first slice of funding would be used to begin works for the sensory garden.
She said the funding would cement the gardens’ place among the top regional botanical gardens in Australia.
The fernery was one of eight priority projects selected by the community following a $4.5 million budget priority consultation which asked the public to rank a list of 16 projects in need of funding.
Despite securing widespread support, a $3.2 million project to replace street lighting with low energy-use light fittings and a $2 million plan to install pedestrian lighting around the Lake Wendouree Moneghetti track were not funded.
The draft budget also canvassed plans to inject $100,000 into the council’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy and a further $100,000 to secure land for a possible future motor sport complex in the region.