The Old Parliament House Gardens are located in the heart of the Parliamentary Zone on either side of Old Parliament House. The Gardens have been restored to their former glory, enhanced with the introduction of features such as seating pavilions, pergolas, rose arbours, pathways, gateways and the refurbishment of the tennis courts and bowling green.
History of the Gardens
When Members and Senators arrived in Canberra for the opening of Provisional (Old) Parliament House in 1927 they were met with bare ground and a hedge, just half a metre high, planted by the Superintendent of Parkes and Gardens, Charles Weston. The bush landscape stood in stark contrast to the established lush gardens of the temporary Parliament in Melbourne.
From 1931 to 1938, the Secretary of the Joint House Department, Robert Broinowski, set about establishing gardens to the east and west of Old Parliament House. Hedges surrounding the gardens were soon planted to mitigate the wind. Tennis courts, a cricket pitch and bowling green were established along with four rose gardens. These were for the exclusive use of members and staff.The idea of a garden languished for several years until Robert Broinowski, Secretary of the Joint House Department, took up the cause. With the assistance of the National Rose Society of New South Wales, Broinowski initiated the design and planting of an open garden based on patterned rose and annuals display beds, set in lawns and with a minimum of trees. Many of the roses were donated by rose societies, companies and individuals, and Parliament House staff.
In 1988, when 'new' Parliament House opened on Capital Hill, occupation of the Old Parliament House ceased for a time. Hidden away behind a rambling hedge and secluded gates, the Gardens became neglected. The well-used tennis courts were locked and the grand floral displays reduced in size.
The reconstruction program for the Old Parliament House Gardens commenced in 2000 with the replanting of the hedges. The Gardens have had their original character and design intent replicated in appreciation of their historic and cultural significance to the nation, along with the addition of paths and public facilities. The four rose gardens have been replanted with new roses and reconstructed to their original designs.