It would be unwise to christen a new housing estate Botanical and not follow through on the promise.
Developer Slattery Property Group has done just the opposite. Its Botanical Estate in Mickleham, 29 kilometres north of Melbourne's central business district, has been planned around 30 hectares of gardens, including a 22-hectare central park with wetlands and diverse flora. There are walking and cycling paths and public amenities such as barbecues and fitness equipment to encourage residents to embrace the outdoors.
"It's really about creating a neighbourhood," says Slattery's general manager for Victoria and Queensland, Jack Hoffmann, of the biggest and greenest project the group has brought to Victoria.
Flowering trees, shrubs and bushes will include native species such as a dwarf pink gumtree, "rosea" red flowering eucalyptus tree and golden wattles, as well as non-natives such as the golden rain tree. "We need to plant species that are suitable for the climate and the environment ??? We're also trying to build on the Botanical brand with culinary plantings that will attract birds and butterflies," Hoffmann says.
"We're really looking to create those outdoor places to encourage new friends and neighbours to meet and eat together. We're looking to put in a community garden where people can garden communally as well as scatter edible plants through the estate."
The 2300-lot estate will also play off its backdrop of the Mount Ridley Nature Conservation Reserve, including keeping dozens of grand river red gums. "We're designing the community around those trees. We'll create those 30 hectares of open space around the trees so we can protect them," Hoffmann says.
Beyond the urban growth boundary, the suburb of Mickleham was home to 3142 people in the 2016 census but it's expected to grow at an exponential pace with the arrival of various housing developments, all set to change its landscape in a few short years. It was with that in mind that Slattery Property Group decided to dedicate 30 hectares of its nearly 200 hectares to public open space.
"Retaining the red gums, for example: for us it made sense to focus on the open spaces and the landscaping for the brand," Hoffman says.
Botanical's landscaping policy also requires residents to exercise their green thumbs, with the planting of a canopy tree required in the front yard of any house set back more than three metres.
"It's not mandatory in a lot of communities, but we've had it in developments before," Hoffmann says. "We like to encourage it to ensure that in time you get those mature trees in the streetscape, which really makes a great effect."