The Ballan Arboretum
A Township Within an Arboretum
The full measure of a culture embraces both the actions of its people and the quality of their aspirations, the nature of the metaphors that propel their lives. And no description of a people can be complete without reference to the character of their homeland, the ecological and geographical matrix in which they have determined to live out their destiny.
Just as landscape defines character, culture springs from a spirit of place.
– Wade Davis, ‘The Wayfinders’, 2008, p38
Ballan is investing in trees for the future. Our vision for Ballan is to become Australia’s first town within an arboretum. In its simplest form an arboretum is a place with trees.
As a small town we wish to engender a theatrical presence of something grander. Our concept is to include an inventory of Ballan’s existing diverse species of trees and to plant purposeful trees in meaningful places over the next ten years. Deciduous, evergreen and indigenous species will be considered as all build on and extend the rich heritage of existing trees in the township.
The arboretum will encompass beautiful walks, protective habitats, wildlife corridors and environmental programs in an open air-learning environment. The unique concept was the initiative of a group of local residents, supported by the Chamber of Commerce and became a design project investigated by landscape architecture students from RMIT.
We value our trees as assets. We want Ballan residents to own, love and care for what we share in common.
To increase the number of trees in Ballan using the arboretum concept has many benefits, especially when looking at the long term (the next 50-100 years).
For me the environmental and ecological benefits are the most important. Absorption of carbon dioxide and production of oxygen in this time of increasing global warming is foremost. Provision of food and habitat for birds and insects is also important. Secondly are the benefits to people. Providing aesthetics and shade and building on Ballan’s image as an Autumn town are benefits appreciated by all in the community. Also, trees (native and deciduous) enhance Ballan’s plan to be a walking/cycling town. The arboretum project also has educational benefits and will provide a great teaching and learning resource for local schools. It will also increase awareness of and interest in trees throughout the wider community. As a community “owned” project, all will be encouraged to be involved in the development and maintenance of the Ballan arboretum.
– Stephanie Day
Founded in 2014 by Stephanie Day, the Ballan Arboretum group received $500 seed funding from the Ballan & District Chamber of Commerce, under which it became a sub-committee and stayed as such until we became independent on 30 June 2016.
Following a notice in the local newspaper The Moorabool News (18/3/2014) the Ballan Arboretum Group was approached by Michael Howard, a lecturer in Landscape Design at RMIT. His offer was to run a Design Studio during second semester titled ‘Ballan Township Arboretum’. We gladly accepted his offer and the students, 15 in all, were developing, documenting and drawing up the project as part of their course work over the semester (July – November 2014).
One of the outcomes of this investigation and study was a ‘pin up display’ in Ballan shop windows of their drawings and a printed booklet that has become the basis for our presentation at public meetings and ongoing promotion. Funds for this came from the Moorabool Shire Council’s winter grants program and other grants and donations. Thanks to Tor Roxburgh for the grant work and to Stephanie Day for holding a donation breakfast, and all others who worked on this.
The book Arbor Town Ballan curated by lecturer Michael Howard and Michael Roberts was launched on 20 March 2015 by Dr Greg Moore, Senior Research Associate, University of Melbourne. The three winning designs received prize money donated by the Ballan & District Chamber of Commerce.
The former Ballan Quilting Group donated $9000 in two parts to create a legacy of deciduous trees that would enhance Ballan and the Autumn Festival. Their wish was that everybody could enjoy the trees, both locals and visitors. The first $5000 was earmarked for spending on the purchase of established trees to be planted at the eastern and western entrances to the town.
The Moorabool Shire Council planted those trees after multiple consultations under their own tree program and part of the Quilt Group money was then used for trees to beautify ‘Pocket Parks’ in Edols and Steiglitz streets in 2017 (at Jopling Street end). The Shire contributed the rest of the costs towards these two Pocket Parks.
The arboretum project also has education benefits and will provide a great teaching and learning resource for local schools. It will also increase awareness of and interest in trees throughout the wider community. As a community “owned” project, all will be encouraged to be involved in the development and maintenance of the Ballan Arboretum.
The Ballan Arboretum Group has a small stand at the annual Ballan Autumn Festival each year, mostly for education purposes but also to raise funds, add friends to our database and for general support. Blackwood Ridge Nursery provided trees for sale in 2016 and 2017 with a percentage as a donation.
Planting collaborations with local primary school children and members of the local Scout group have been an excellent way of involving the next generation.
A series of talks helped educate the general public about all things trees and the environment as a whole.
From unraveling the Mystery of the Earth’s Black Gold to Significant trees and their place in our shared heritage.
Ballan’s new pocket parks are a great example of community engagement between local residents, Ballan Arboretum Group and the Moorabool Shire.
The two new parks, one the corner of Edols and Jopling streets, the other the corner of Steiglitz and Jopling streets, are currently under construction and due for completion in August. The new parks will include a range of tree species, seating made by local stonemason Joshua Bowers and, most importantly, new paths that will make getting around town on foot much easier and more enjoyable.
Ms Stephanie Day, Chair of the Ballan Arboretum Group, is thrilled with the result: ‘Everyone came on board and worked together to respond to community concerns about pedestrian amenity and to come up with a scheme that is both practical and beautiful’.
The Moorabool Shires’ Urban Designer Joe Morgan-Payler has conceived two themes for the pocket parks with the Steiglitz Street to be spring in focus and the Edols, autumnal. Ms Day says ‘this is what will make the redevelopment of these small areas so special, that they will connect to the seasons, providing park users with the opportunity to enjoy scented blooms of spring blossom and the blaze of colour of the deciduous trees in autumn’.
We have had great support from the Shire, says Ms Day, and also from community groups and traders. Ballan Arboretum Group with support from Ballan Quilt Group and Ballan Farmer’s Market will contribute to buying trees, the watering program and the new stone seating. We are delighted, says Ms Day, ‘that Ballan Primary School Grade 3-4 class will be helping out with the planting of the trees once the major work is completed’.
The Moorabool Shire has placed signs at both the western and eastern entrances to the town entrances signifying the importance to the town of the display of autumn foliage. Our new plantings will boast this display and provide a sense of arrival.
Scarlet Oaks x 14 (Quercus coccinea)
Lipstick Maples x 3 (Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’
Part of our mission is to form co-operative relationships with other community groups.
The Ballan 1st Scouts have agreed to assit with plantings each year on National Tree Day. Our first project, together are 3 trees planted in Caledonian Park. Our aim is to plant deciduous single specimum trees that will grow to full size and shape. We wll also work with the Moorabool Landcare Group to continue the work done by the Rushing Waters group and Melbourne Water These plantings will be native indigenous species.
Lipstick Maple x 1 (Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’)
Black Tupleo x 1 (Nyssa slyvatica Forum)
Purple Jewel x 1 (Prunus virginiana)
Existing Weeping Elm
The Moorabool Shire has placed signage at both the western and eastern entrances to BALLAN signifying the importance to the town of the autumn foliage display. Our new plantings will boast this display and provide a sense of arrival for visitors coming to the annual Autumn Festival.
Lipstick Maple x 3 (Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’)
RMIT Student Designs
Michael Howard, a lecturer at RMIT and a recent resident within Moorabool, saw an article published in the Moorabool News on the establishment of the Arboretum Committee. He approached them with an offer to make it the subject of his next RMIT Design Studio.
The Ballan Arboretum Group would like to thank the RMIT students for the ideas presented in this book as well as the Moorabool Shire for their winter grants program that helped to fund this publication.
The below gallery shows the RMIT students designs that were displayed throughout the township for all to see.
Launch of Design Book
RMIT design students conducted a walking tour around Ballan to view arboretum designs on display in business shop windows. Each student presented their design ideas to a gathering of interested locals.
The interactive book launch was held on March 20, 2015.
Following the tour the book was officially launched by Dr Greg Moore, Senior Research Associate, University of Melbourne.
Dr Moore spoke passionately about the benefits of trees to the environment, climate and social wellbeing. He praised our exciting vision of a whole of town arboretum and emphasised our actions would leave a valuable legacy for future residents of Ballan.