Situated in the heart of Melbourne’s west, Iramoo Grassland Centre and Nursery is dedicated to grassland conservation by growing the original flora once common in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs.
These areas were originally covered by Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain and the Grassy Eucalypt Woodland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain (VVP). Both of these are nationally threatened ecological communities listed under Australia’s national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The remaining pockets in which these local species grow naturally are fast disappearing as our city continues to expand, and many plants are becoming very rare. The Nursery Centre is situated at Victoria University’s St Albans campus.
The plantings around the Iramoo precinct provide a valuable seed and cutting resource, as well as showcasing the original flora of Melbourne’s West. Seed is collected from Iramoo’s extensive garden and seed orchard, with special care with regards to plant provenance. Some of the plants that are growing are no longer available from the original source, due to urban expansion.
Plants are grown to order for local councils, community groups, and local landscapers, and there is a limited range of tubestock available for sale to the home gardener. The plants are grown in 50mm forestry tubes and visitors are welcome to drop into Iramoo Nursery on Wednesday’s between 9am and 4pm unless an appointment has been made for another time.
Iramoo in partnership with the Department of Justice, hosts a Community Correctional team that help out with maintaining the Grassland Centre and carry out all the endless garden duties and nursery work. Throughout this year the team has been contributing by doing all the physical work to convert a disused area into a Bush Food Display garden The site was cleared of weeds and existing beds, and a gravel pathway was built which meanders through the 1500 square metre block.
The garden will become a place of discovery and learning for students and community groups, and will showcase the enormous diversity of the many local plants used by traditional Aboriginals. A self-guided tour will be developed and information on the traditional use of each plant will be available. The plants will be grown in sections, for a greater appreciation for each plant’s individual characteristic.
Most of the plants were valuable not only for food, but in the various uses ranging from fibres for weaving, to medicines and for the making of tools and implements used in every day to day activities.
The importance of bringing this traditional botanical knowledge to a wider community, and to share it in a dedicated place of learning, will hopefully inspire people to view indigenous plants in a whole new light. We will also reach out to elders in the Aboriginal Community that may be able to pass on the stories and skills of generations past, so this knowledge will not be lost.
It is an exciting project that has been a goal of Iramoo for several years, and is slowing becoming a reality.
Directions to Iramoo
St Albans Campus Victoria University. Building 1J, McKechnie Street, St Albans. Melway Ref. Map 25 K3
Enter via McKechnie St, & turn right at the roundabout, follow the road around the bend and we are just behind the tennis courts. Look out for the red poles outside our administration building. Parking is available at rear.
- By Cassandra Twomey, Nursery Manager Iramoo