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.
When Members and Senators arrived in Canberra for the opening of the 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. Sporting facilities - a bowling green, tennis courts and a cricket pitch - were quickly established in the gardens for the exclusive use of parliamentarians.
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.
The Old Parliament House Gardens are comprised of two separate gardens and within each are located two rose gardens:
- House of Representatives Garden comprising of the Ladies Rose Garden (Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses) and the Macarthur Rose Garden (China, Tea and Noisette roses)
- Senate Garden comprising of the Broinowski Rose Garden (Shrub roses) and the Rex Hazlewood Rose Garden (Asian and European history of the rose, includes roses by Australian rose breeder Alister Clarke).
The Old Parliament House Rose Gardens are open to the public year round:
- Summer hours (during daylight saving): 0700-2000
- Winter hours: 0700-1700