Residents will soon see plenty of activity at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens as preparations get underway for the 2019 Begonia Festival.
Each year the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Conservatory is brought to life with colour as part of the festival’s namesake - the Begonia Display.
This year’s Begonia Display features six hundred tuberous and non-tuberous Begonias from the City of Ballarat’s famous Begonia collection.
For the first time the display will also feature a tranquil water display landscaped with ferns from the City of Ballarat’s nursery.
Another highlight of the 2019 Begonia Display is the Begonia Towers which feature more than two hundred Begonia boliviensis Bossa Nova.
The City of Ballarat’s dedicated Gardens and Nursery Team have been growing the tuberous begonias since Spring, with the gardeners now in the final stages of preparing this year’s Begonia Display ahead of the festival opening on Saturday 10 March.
In preparation for this year’s Begonia Display, the conservatory will be closed from 11 February 2019 for building maintenance and the installation of the begonias.
The conservatory will re-open at 10am on Saturday 9 March 2019.
Residents are also advised public access into the Ballarat Botanical Gardens will be closed from 8am, Monday 4 March to allow for the Ballarat Begonia Festival set-up.
The gardens will re-open at 10am on Saturday 9 March 2019.
Parts of the gardens will also be closed to public access on 12 and 13 March to allow safe removal of festival infrastructure.
Users of the Adam Lindsay Gordon Craft Cottage are advised the cottage will remain open as usual and can be accessed via the Northern Gate.
Presented by the City of Ballarat, the 2018 Ballarat Begonia Festival is free and will be held at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens between 9-11 March 2019.
For more information about the 2018 Ballarat Begonia Festival visit: ballartabegoniafestival.com.au or follow @BallaratBegoniaFestival on Facebook
Begonia collection fast facts:
• Tuberous begonias were first discovered in 1864 in Peru and Bolivia and have been growing in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens since approximately 1896
• Ballarat Botanical Garden gardeners started to import tuberous begonias from England in 1901, and now grow the popular plant by hand.
• The City of Ballarat Gardens and Nursery Team plan for the Begonia Display 12 months in advance
• Growing begonias is a year-round job, the non-tuberous begonias are looked after in the heated glasshouse - they can grow outside, but need protection from the cold and extreme heat of Summer
• In Spring the tubers are taken out of storage, potted up and placed into the heated glasshouse. Once the shoots have appeared and have reached about 5 to 10cm, cuttings are taken
• The tuberous begonias are then potted to their final pot size and moved to the nonheated glasshouse
• The Gardens and Nursery team disbuds the flowers until the start of February to encourage larger flowers, and to ensure they’re looking their best for the Festival
• All begonias are hand-watered so they don’t get over-watered, which can cause rot in the tuber
• Once the cool weather sets in, the tuberous begonias slowly start to die back to ground level
• All the tubers are taken out of the pots and inspected for any damage from weevils or tuber rot They are then stored in the bulb room over Winter and the Gardens and Nursery start all over again in Spring.