New City Gate launched at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Renowned philanthropist, Lady Potter, has generously funded a new City Gate at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

This exquisite addition to the iconic Gardens enhances its city-side entrance with an artistic expression of the beauty, nature and wonder to be found within.

Lady Potter's vision for this project aimed to capture the natural beauty of the Gardens, by creating a gateway that delights visitors from the moment they enter.

“I suggested incorporating Superb Fairywrens into the design because I have loved seeing them when visiting the Gardens - they are delightful. I hope that people of all ages can experience the wonder of the Gardens,” she said.

Crafted from mild steel with intricate detailing, ‘City Gate’ is a masterpiece designed by the Gardens’ long-standing Landscape Architect, Andrew Laidlaw, and crafted by metal artist Justin Purser and sculptor Yvonne George. The gate creates a mesmerising scene of the interplay of nature: two majestic trees, falling leaves, and Superb Fairywren birds looking out for the worms below and playing among the branches.

Andrew Laidlaw, Landscape Architect at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria says that the central focus of the new gates is the symbolic reference to an aging tree that has stood the test of time, the seasonality and movement of nature and the historical significance of the site.

“This tree has its roots firmly in the earth surrounded by native grasses that would have once existed on the site. This is a reference to the deeper history of Gardens spanning over 60,000 years,” he said.

City Gate seamlessly blends the surrounding City of Melbourne - Kings Domain, The Tan and the Yarra River - with the Gardens. Leading up to the Gate, visitors will experience a 150m plant-lined walkway including Arid and Dryland plants from Africa and South America. There is also new rockwork, bluestone paving and surrounding plantings, which include plants that are new to the Gardens or rarely seen in cultivation.

“This is one of our hotter and drier spots in the Gardens so it made sense that we would extend the Grey Garden and use the Arid plant theme through there,” he said.

Mr Laidlaw says that this gate is intended to be one of the Gardens’ grander entrances, given its location as the Gardens’ closest entrance to the city and its proximity to Temple of the Winds.

“We wanted to inspire wonder and awe with this gate, and signal to visitors that they are entering a botanic garden of great standing.

“The size, scale and design of the gate was inspired by neighbouring Temple the Winds, William Guilfoyle’s sense of grandeur and its colour and render,” he said. William Guilfoyle was the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s second director and landscape architect of the Gardens we see today.

Mr Laidlaw said he was thrilled to work with Lady Potter again, decades after the opening of the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden in 2004.

“We are deeply grateful to Lady Potter for her generosity, which has brought this new gate to life. Her contribution to this gate and to the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden reflects her love of nature and a desire to inspire others to appreciate nature,” he said.

City Gate is the latest philanthropically funded project at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, following the successful unveiling of Tecoma Gate in July 2023. These projects, made possible through the support of donors like Lady Potter, contribute to the Gardens' ongoing mission to foster an appreciation for plants and the natural world.