Blooming marvellous: Historic Cook Park conservatory reopens after major upgrade

COLOURFUL: Janice and Gordon Blowes, the grandson of A.W Blowes, Glenda Carthew, great grandaughter, Orange mayor Reg Kidd and Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW, Rick Colless. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0309jkblowes3
COLOURFUL: Janice and Gordon Blowes, the grandson of A.W Blowes, Glenda Carthew, great grandaughter, Orange mayor Reg Kidd and Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW, Rick Colless. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0309jkblowes3

Orange’s begonias are in full bloom in the Blowes Conservatory in Cook Park this week following the completion of a major refurbishment of the historic 1934 building.

The upgraded greenhouse was officially opened on Friday night at a ceremony attended by relatives of the man who gifted it to the people of Orange, then mayor A.W. [Alfred William] Blowes.

Current mayor Reg Kidd said the conservatory was a unique feature of the city.

“It is one of the historic buildings in our park,” he said.

Cr Kidd said the refurbishment included upgrading the timber structure, repairing lead light windows and changing the lighting and watering systems.

The brick foundations were repaired and wood rot was treated.

Replacement glass installed around the base over the year was replaced by glass matching the originals.

He said the work was completed in time for the Teddy Bears’ Day Out picnic and brass band concerts which packed the park over the weekend.

Cr Kidd said the conservatory housed a vibrant display of begonias.

“They are in their full glory now until well after Easter,” he said.

“It is known as one of the better begonia collections in the world.”

He said the display included rare hanging plants that “cascaded” from the roof of the conservatory.

Cr Kidd said providing a home for displaying begonias was a key reason in the building originally being built.

“He [Mr Blowes] was quite keen on begonias and begonias are not the easiest plants in the world to grow,” he said.

Cr Kidd said several of Mr Blowes’ descendants were in Cook Park on Friday night for the opening.

“There was a great grandson, great-great family and a great-great-great grandson.”

Funding for the restoration work was assisted by a $100,000 grant from the state government’s Heritage Near Me program through Western NSW parliamentary secretary Rick Colless.

Mr Colless was in attendance at the opening.

He said the program was funding similar projects around NSW where buildings needed repair and provided community benefit.

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