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The Japanese section of the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden is going to be a real showpiece thanks to community support from ETC, Rotary, TAFE, Coffs Harbour City Council and the Friends of the Gardens.
Gardens Curator Ian Corbett said they were in the midst of creating a “unique regional asset.”
“Our Japanese Garden has been five years in the making. The Japanese say it takes 100 years to building a garden so I figure we’ve still got a way to go,” Mr Corbett said.
ETC has recently donated $10,000 for the purchase of decorative rock, garden edging and paving materials.
“Rocks are the most important feature in a Japanese garden because that’s where the spirits reside,” Mr Corbett said.
“We’ve sourced the rock from Manilla, near Tamworth, to give us the look we were after.”
Mr Corbett said the $575,000 project to enhance the Japanese garden relied heavily on community involvement.
“Our funding is very thin so we rely on our community partners like ETC as well as Rotary who are funding the construction of a pergola and TAFE who will be constructing the contemplation room,” Mr Corbett said.
“The important thing is that the community is building it with us.
“We have made a long term commitment to supporting employment schemes which has resulted in many currently unemployed people gaining confidence and experience working in the gardens that has helped them to re-enter the workforce.
“Our working bees are also well supported by people with a range of disabilities, who with their carers, carry out general garden duties. This boosts self-esteem, self-confidence and helps remove the stigma of mental and physical disability.”
Mr Corbett said once the latest stage of the Japanese garden had been completed the focus would be on attracting visitors through education programmes, weddings and other events.
“Currently the Botanic Garden has annual visitation of around 60,000 people. Of this 38% are from outside the area, or interstate visitors, making us a significant tourist attraction for the Coffs Coast,” Mr Corbett said.
“We’ve already had strong interest from bridal parties to hold weddings in the Japanese garden and we expect it will be widely used by all regional schools for LOTE (Language other than English), Geography and Botanic Studies.”
ETC Director Graeme Singleton said ETC was pleased to be able to support the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden through the ETC Community Support Fund.