In the Water Garden you do not need to exercise imagination to feel as if you are standing in the distant hills to the east - even though you are barely a stone's throw from Perth's central business district.
The Water Garden was greatly expanded and refurbished in 1999 to mark the centenary of Women's Suffrage in Western Australia, and central to the landscape is the perfect recreation of a Darling Range creek complete with massive granite boulders and relevant plant species.
Now that the swamp paperbarks (Melaleuca raphiophylla) have matured, the view from the footbridge midway down the valley is utterly convincing and the sense of tranquillity defies the proximity of the city.
In keeping with the focus on sustainability, the project is a demonstration of best practice in recycled water management, with native reeds and sedges employed to strip out nutrients.
Selected species include Baumea articulata, B. juncea, B. preissii, B. rubiginosa, Carex fascicularis, Lepidosperma effusum, L. tetraquetrum, Schoenoplectus pungens and S. validus.
Home gardeners might be interested to learn that, although the Water Garden is obviously a large scale system, the use of reeds and sedges to maintain water health is equally applicable in a backyard pond.
Community artwork embedded in the Water Garden's pathways symbolises women's commitment to society, and 53 brass plaques underfoot acknowledge the women's associations which played pivotal parts in the community during the 100 years after Suffrage. The Pioneer Women's Memorial is a stunning centre piece in the water garden and provides a magical setting for concerts and theatre during the Summer Events Season.
Descending through the valley, sculptures by Coral Lowry and Holly Story symbolise life, growth, strength of heart, renewal and leadership, culminating beneath the Water Garden Pavilion in an artwork which links the human and natural worlds.
The Bookleaf Memorial is initially an open tome. Some of the bronze pages have apparently loosened and been blown away by the wind, and where they rest on the ground they metamorphose into tuart leaves whose many different forms are present on the tree at any one time.
Just below the Bookleaf Memorial is a specimen of Dwellingup mallee (Eucalyptus graniticola) which represents a remarkable survival story aided by science. Reduced to just a single tree in the wild, the Dwellingup mallee was rescued when the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority used DNA fingerprinting and tissue culture to conserve and multiply this rare hybrid.