Today it continues to conserve arid land flora in its natural environment while educating visitors on how to use native plants in home gardens. Now especially with drought conditions affecting so much of the country and a hot and dry summer predicted it makes so much sense when you see how water wise we can be using these plants.
The Arid Lands Botanic Garden is on the Stuart Highway and an easy place to spend a few hours with walking trails ranging from a 30 minute highlight loop right up to a 2 hour, 4.5 kilometre trail. Some trails lead to various vantage points including a viewing deck that looks over the gardens and towards the Flinders Ranges in the background.
The word arid probably conjures up the idea of dry, dusty, dull but this is anything but. Sculptures and a projection sundial grab your attention when you first enter then you can pick up a map for the different walking loops from the visitor centre.
As you walk through the garden there are interpretive signs for various plants including those used for bush food, showing where they grow and what their uses are. All this is backed up in the café where you can taste dishes that include using ingredients including quandong (native peach), boobialla (native juniper), native lime, lemon myrtle and wattle seed.
There are garden design areas laid out which give practical ideas on how to design an entire garden around the plant choices. They show a planting plan, list the plants used and show how water wise they are in comparison to standard gardens. The garden plans show a variety of styles including for courtyards and coastal gardens. They really do inspire change after all who doesn’t want to save water, save money and create a sustainable garden that really suits our climate.
If you’re feeling inspired, you can buy plants from the garden shop on site. You can purchase plants in tubes and a full list of what they have in stock can be found on their website. You’ll find everything from groundcovers, shrubs and all the way up to large trees available to buy.
It’s no wonder that the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden has been a South Australian Tourism Award winner in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and has made it onto the Australian Geographic magazine’s list of top 10 regional botanic gardens you need to visit.
The garden is free to enter, donations are welcome, and again why wouldn’t you? You can wander around at your leisure and stroll a walking trail to suit the time you have to spend, or you can go on a volunteer run guided tour at a small cost, with all money going towards projects and maintenance of the gardens. They are open daily from 7.30am to sunset, with the visitor centre open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and 10am to 4pm on weekends and public holidays.
You don’t have to be a gardener either to enjoy to visit, with the bush environment, Flinders views, good gift shop and tasty food, you won’t be disappointed.
Cheers and enjoy the Quandong ice cream!