‘A little magic’ grown in our main street

A NEW exhibition dedicated to the magic of Albury’s 135-year-old Botanic Gardens recognises a place curator Paul Scannell has poured all of his passion into.

The exhibition at Albury’s LibraryMuseum tracks the garden’s beginnings in 1864 as a 50-acre plot to the attraction that now welcomes 250,000 people a year.

Rusty gates, park benches and the original statue of Melpomene, which has been in storage for more than a decade after being vandalised, recreates a 1990s botanic scene in the space on the corner of Kiewa and Swift streets.

Early botanical paintings will be on display next to works by local botanical artists who have tracked the gardens’ plant life.

Mr Scannell has worked in the gardens for 24 years, including 17 as its curator, and he said today’s opening was recognition of hard work.

“It makes me extremely proud of the staff and the team of volunteers I have the pleasure of working with,” he said.

Mr Scannell, who became a green thumb at the age of nine when his mother got him to garden for pocket money, said the legacy left by curator James Edwards Richards Fellowes between 1901 and 1944, was a huge part of the gardens’ history.

“In a small botanic garden at the end of the main street to have majestic trees over 100 years old that are Australian sub-tropical rainforest species is just amazing,” Mr Scannell said.

“The trees give the place a little magic about it and just to see all the people who interact and photograph and paint and draw and hug and sit underneath and read a book — it makes the place a great haven.”

Corowa artist Moira Russell, who created 14 of the 41 paintings, said the gardens had a special place in her heart.

She remembers throwing coins in the wishing well after her parents told her the fairies in the garden would grant her wishes.

Growth Rings runs until Sunday, February 10.

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