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Book Review

Discover Tondoon: The Gladstone Tondoon Botanic Gardens Story - Grace Johansen

Reviewed by Lawrie Smith; Landscape Architect, LANDPLAN

Book cover

"Truth is truth ... Gladstone is Gladstone ... the idea that the township of Gladstone must advance is ridiculous ... in a place where water is so scarce, where back country is composed of nothing else but a series of rocky ridges and where on all sides it is very evident that the Great Curator never intended but for the eagle to build her eyrie!" 1880's description of Gladstone.

But the Great Creator had other ideas ... having already established a very diverse flora in the Port Curtis region which was beautifully adapted to the shallow rocky soils, the irregular rainfall and the varied microclimates from coastal foreshores to the hinterland ranges. Several local people, particularly including SGAP members, saw the opportunity available and took every opportunity to promote the establishment of a regional botanic garden in the rapidly expanding industrial city with the role to research and display the unique flora of this 'inhospitable' region.

Grace Johansen has delved into the records and memories of people who were involved and her book recounts the story of this process, spanning over almost 50 years. The result is the development of Tondoon now a valued scientific repository of most of the native species of the bioregion, together with other related areas of Queensland.

Local SGAP stalwart, Ruth Crosson, has been singularly persistent in ensuring that this book was written and published so that Tondoon's formative processes are not forgotten. The book does not cover the botanic or horticultural aspects specifically, but it includes many excellent photographs of the site throughout all phases of the Gardens development. It is anticipated that this will be the first of a series of books, dealing specifically with the regional plant communities and their potential for use in amenity horticulture.

It has been my privilege to be the landscape architect for Tondoon since its inception and to work with the Council and local community, particularly Ruth and the SGAP, in the planning and development of this significant regional botanic garden. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the process - it can be a particularly useful resource for any SGAP group endeavouring to have a similar botanic garden established in their locality.

Discover Tondoon: Gladstone Tondoon Botanic Gardens Story

Grace Johansen
Gladstone City Council through funding by the Comalco Community Fund, Queensland, 2006.
RRP $10.00
Soft cover, 37 pages, colour and black and white illustrations

From the newsletter of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (Queensland), December 2006.

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Australian Plants online - 2006
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants