Reviewed by: Collage Adelaide
Review by Katerina Grypma | 26 February 2022

I’ve always adored the idea of exploring the Botanic Garden at night, but never thought I’d get a chance to get lost in the wonderful world of the Bicentennial Conservatory after dark, especially not in the elevated, ethereal state created by all involved in the Celestial Gardens experience.

The central aspect of this installation involves a series of potted plants dispersed throughout the Conservatory, connected to sensors, and generating plant song – utilising instruments to translate biodata to music. You are encouraged to stroke and tap the plants, listening out for any changes in the transmissions this creates that are interpreted into the music. Though at times hard to perceive, there are definite moments where you can hear your touch influencing the music, and each plant seems to sing with its own voice and character. At the entrance of the Conservatory, a fabulously retro video from the 70s (available on YouTube!) hosted by Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek’s Spock) introduces and explains the discovery of this technology for those interested.

Celestial Gardens is, however, much more than this enchanting element. Lights and dancers wondering through the rainforest remind you this is a performance of sorts, and beautiful glass artworks hang from branches, catching the light like supernatural seedpods or alien eggs. Art and momentos of various sorts are available for purchase inside too.

The inclusion of a free drink at the bar at the end of your rainforest journey ensures you conclude the experience in style and relaxed. Al fresco seating around the glass wave sculpture (which looks 100 times better illuminated by night) provides the perfect setting to sip, chat and take in the magical ‘Otanical VR’ by Felicity Arts – a fun filled VR ride of faeries, sprites and poems filmed in a different part of the garden.

Tonight is the last of Celestial Gardens: The Secret Sounds of Plants, grab a ticket if you’re free and it sounds like your thing. It’s all in all a delightful, imaginative and highly recommended experience suitable for all ages.

4 stars out of 5