Victoria, its New House and its History
at Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Adelaide, SA Australia
Research by Jeremy Prentice, Royal
Botanic Gardens Melbourne
John Sandham, Collections Development Officer, Adelaide Botanic
Images by Jeremy Prentice and Lyn Dargusch
Click to enlarge
Amazon Waterlily Pavilion
From Adelaide Botanic Gardens
"South Australian Premier Mike Rann officially opened
the $4.3 million Amazon Waterlily Pavilion on 7 November 2007.
The Pavilion, the third of Adelaide Botanic Garden's glasshouses,
is an exquisite glass palace setting for a jewel of the natural
world and indeed the Adelaide Botanic Garden's - Victoria amazonica.
"The pavilion was constructed as part of the Garden's
150th Anniversary in 2007, as was the Schomburgk Pavilion and
the SA Water Mediterranean Garden.
" 'The completion of this impressive architectural inclusion
to the heart of the Adelaide Botanic Garden marks a stunning
job by South Australian designers and builders, which will help
grow the Garden's 1.3 million visitors a year,' Mr. Rann said.
"The Amazon Waterlily Pavilion replaces the Victoria
House (1957) and Schomburgk Range glasshouses (1954). The original
Victoria House was built in 1868 to house the Amazon Waterlily.
The design of the new energy efficient glass house was inspired
by the lily's giant leaves, and the original pond from Victoria
House has been retained as the centre piece of the new pavilion."
Extract from ABG Conservation Study,
Section 2, Ch 2.2.3 pp30-31:
The Victoria House (1868)
Schomburgk had a great interest in tropical plants through his
British Guiana collections. Many of these plants required glazed
and heated environments, and Adelaide Botanic Garden was already
well equipped for gardening under glass (see Section 3.3.4).
With the development of the Victoria House in 1868, however,
Schomburgk was able to realise the first of his ambitious plans
for a series of impressive new horticultural buildings. The Victoria
regia (now V. amazonica) or Giant Waterlily was associated with
both Robert and Richard Schomburgk. In 1837 Robert had brought
back from British Guiana a description of the plant and seed
leading to its botanical classification. A number of attempts
were made to grow it in England before a specimen flowered for
the first time at Chatsworth in England in 1849. Francis had
ambitions to grow the lily in Adelaide Botanic Garden from as
early as 1856 and, after many attempts, his colleague Mueller
had flowered the lily in Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 1867. Schomburgk
and his Board were soon obtaining estimates for a new glasshouse
that would enable its propagation.
Image from the National Library of Australia
The remarkable growth habits of this waterlily had inspired the
idea of a special glasshouse known as a Victoria House to accommodate
a plant which could produce leaves of 1.6 to 2.1 m in diameter.
Adelaide's tank was 36 feet by 25 feet and 6 feet deep (10.9
m x 7.9 m x 1.8 m), making it larger than that of the Duke of
Devonshire at Chatsworth in England. Three-inch (7.6 mm) pipes
were laid at the bottom of the tank under pebbles and soil, with
a small waterwheel to provide movement in the water.
Adelaide Botanic Gardens Web
The venture was a huge success and the first flowering produced
extraordinary public interest. Newspaper reports gave hour-by-hour
descriptions of the opening of the flower buds. Some 30,000 visitors
were recorded in the five-week period up to November 1868. Success
in cultivation was a source of great pride to Schomburgk and
his Board. The Victoria House helped to build up the prestige
of Adelaide Botanic Garden and with it Schomburgk's own reputation.
He was quick to point out that he was able to grow many other
tropical plants in the Victoria House, including epiphytic and
Image from Development of Adelaide Botanic Garden
Orchids-of great interest in the horticultural world of the time-were
acquired from Kew, Java, and St Petersburg helping to bring the
total of orchid species to 160, with a further 95 species being
added in 1870. There was also a fine collection of plants with