Our Exotic (Non-Australian) Collection features plants from different parts of the world with climates and conditions similar to those of Coffs Harbour; mostly from regions approximately 30 degrees north or south of the equator.
It is interesting to compare our own native species with those of other places whose climates are similar to our own. Where continents were once joined, especially in the supercontinent, Gondwana, there may be similarities of species. However, when the land connections are truly ancient and evolution has taken different directions, the shape and form and species are certainly exotic to us.
Travel through the various areas and become acquainted with different vegetation and lush perfumes. You will recognise some familiar ‘faces’ of plants that through trading and modern communication have become ornamentals in our own backyards. Citrus, willows, coffee, and garden herbs are easily identified. Nevertheless, it is interesting to discover the origins of these old favourites by taking a walk through the world of plants in our Garden.
Your tour of the Exotics starts beyond the Glasshouse complex on the eastern side of the Main Path. You are in South Africa and Tropical Africa. Travel through South Africa and Tropical Africa, and then continue to wander through India into China. There is a waterfall at the edge of the grassy area bordering China that is fed from the lake in the Japanese area. From the waterfall the water returns to the lake via a rocky watercourse. A Chinese pagoda offers a quiet retreat near the watercourse. A traditional red wooden arch bridge spans the lake in Japan. Near the toilet block and towards the eastern boundary of the Garden is a grassy area where plants from South America, North America and Central America are featured. Spectacular palms can be found throughout this area and unique trees ablaze with colour provide many photo opportunities.
Visitors will notice the mosaics set into the pathway entrances to each section. These were made by students of schools in the area, and depict a distinguishing feature of each region or country:
- South African tribal masks - Toormina High School
- Indian elephants - Woolgoolga High School
- Chinese dragon - Orara High School
- Japanese pagoda - Bishop Druitt College
- North American bald eagle – Coffs Harbour Christian Community High School
- Central American quetzal - John Paul College
In South Africa, there is another lovely mosaic depicting Strelitzia regnans, which was created by local artist, Karen Allbury.