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THE BOTANIC GARDEN A Newsletter for the Botanic Gardens of Australia and New Zealand

Issue 37 – DECEMBER 2013 Theme: Celebrating Success – the influence and appeal of botanic gardens ISSN 1446-2044



Editorial Committee


Alan Matchett Team Leader/Curator, Dunedin

President’s View

Mark Fountain Deputy Director Collections and Research, Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens

Farewell 4 Anne Duncan. BGANZ past President

BGANZ Membership news Dale Arvidsson Curator, Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens and BGANZ President Janelle Hatherly Education and Interpretation Consultant Managing Editor: Eamonn Flanagan Graphic Designer: Siobhan Duffy Disclaimer: Please note the views expressed in articles are not necessarily the views of BGANZ Council. We aim to encourage a broad range of articles.

Feedback and comments on the newsletter and articles are welcome. Please email: Cover: Dunedin Botanic Garden. Photo credit: John Zwar

The theme of the March 2013 issue of The Botanic Garden will be - Marketing – How to sell your Garden and make money. The deadline for contributions is 21 February 2013. Please contact the Secretariat if you are intending to submit an article.


Dale Arvidsson, BGANZ President


Eamonn Flanagan, Executive Officer

Botanic in Brief


Profile BGANZ


5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress / 6th Biennial Botanic Gardens Australia & New Zealand Congress, 20-25th October Dunedin, New Zealand


A global message from an old bird Megan J Hirst, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne Why gardens are important, especially now Sophia Siskel, President & CEO, Chicago Botanic Garden Improved planning can help improve human health: the role of botanic gardens Ian McAlister, Manager Horticultural Services, Dubbo City Council Reflections on the BGCI/BGANZ congress from two perspectives Janelle Hatherly, Education and Interpretation Consultant and Mohammed Al Saidi, Environmental Education Specialist, Oman Botanic Garden Bartered Goods – Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Sara Levin Stevenson, Visitor Programs Coordinator, Mt Cuba Center Inc. Mum said, “So what have you learned so far?” Andrea Dennis, Maranoa Botanical Gardens, City of Boroondara, Victoria Strengthening the conservation value of tree collections for ex-situ conservation (session review) Ben Lyte, Curator Eastwoodhill Arboretum BGANZ Grant recipient report on NZ congress John Zwar, South Australia (The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta, SA) Response to the 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress from FGBG (Australia) Judith Trimble, President of Friends Geelong Botanic Garden



CONTENTS continued Botanic Gardens Reports


2013 National Award for Kings Park Rebecca Maddern The hidden side of Wollongong Botanic Gardens Louise Turk, courtesy Illawarra Mercury Bundaberg Botanic Gardens Timothy Rich, Group Supervisor Gardens, Bundaberg Regional Council Conservation on a remote island Lorraine Perrins, Curator Conservation Collections and Sub Antarctic Flora The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden (AALBG), Port Augusta Inc. Chris Nayda, Secretary, FAALBG Noosa Botanic Gardens Jacky Kelt $1.25 million to science and children Katie O’Brien, Marketing Coordinator (PR) Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens Inc - supporting and celebrating success Annie McGeachy, Hon. Secretary, AFBG

Calendar of Conferences and Events




President’s View Dunedin and beyond Dale Arvidsson, BGANZ President

BGANZ President Dale Arvidsson. Photo credit: Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens

I’d like to truly thank Anne Duncan for her calm leadership and the members of Council I have worked with since 2009... It’s with excitement and respect for all our BGANZ members that I write to you from the Presidents ‘chair’. Being privileged to be a part of the world of botanic gardens for exactly 10 years and from a botanic garden celebrating its tenth birthday in 2013, has seen myself and all the team at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens on the steepest learning curve you can imagine! I know I’ll bring the same passion and desire that I have for my workplace to the BGANZ President’s role.

I’d like to truly thank Anne Duncan for her calm leadership and the members of Council I have worked with since 2009 who have now stepped down as their allotted time has been fulfilled. Everyone has been welcoming and offered their knowledge freely – a trait it seems for all botanic gardens and arboreta. The 6th BGANZ Dunedin Congress – held this time in conjunction with the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress (no small coup for Dunedin Botanic Gardens) again has allowed us to see what’s happening in the wider world and what we can apply at our national, state and local levels. From botanic gardens and arboreta with billion dollar capital budgets, to the passionate people working hard to commence or resurrect their sites with only donations and promises – it’s a wide and varied field we all work in. I know I speak for everyone in our community when I offer congratulations and thanks to Alan Matchett and his entire team at Dunedin Botanic Gardens and Dunedin City Council for the seamless organisation, excellent conference venue and truly beautiful botanic gardens and city we all were privileged to experience. I understand first-hand the amount of work prior to and behind the scenes at the congress to make it all happen – and with the international component so prominent. The genuine warm welcome provided by all of Dunedin to the delegates was truly appreciated and will see many return to Dunedin and New Zealand (including myself!).

The combined congress offered the latest information from keynote speakers and presenters and covered actions being developed on sustainability and climate change, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration and plant collections management. A strong theme – particularly from our BGCI partners in the United States and Europe – was developing community well-being and being socially relevant. Key themes explored at concurrent sessions were progress and achievements in social engagement, and involving our communities, education, science and innovation – using our resources to develop new solutions in a changing world, and ‘rediscovering and reinvigorating’ our sites to be as relevant in 2013 as in previous decades and centuries. It is always a bewildering choice which presentation to attend with so much on offer but sometimes a five-minute talk is all that’s needed to generate a spark of interest and a follow up contact – the real benefit of leaving the online world to experience face-to-face communication.

I believe an important role of BGANZ over the next 2 year is to create linkages and bridge the gaps – from country to capital city, regional to national. I believe an important role of BGANZ over the next two year is to create linkages and bridge the gaps – from country to capital city, regional to national, reach across oceans to our partners


and present ideas and deliver opportunities for all members to improve what they do via discussion and action. Our regional groups communicate across often vast distances and create real options to share and learn at biennial conferences for those who are unable to attend our major congresses. We will create more opportunities, for our members who can’t attend, to access information and presentations so please consider this when developing yours for the next regional or biennial congress to spread our messages as far as possible. I am confident that BGANZ, via its working groups, is making a difference delivering on its promise to be relevant to our members. The Botanic Records Officers Network (BRON) is making headway in a rapidly changing world of technology to offer botanic gardens and arboreta with no or out-dated records the opportunity to affordably commence digitising their collections and uploading to their state, our national and international institutions. This will help them gain a better understanding of the role botanic gardens are playing in conservation and preservation world-wide. Through the Professional Development Working Group (PDWG), The Collections Management toolkit was again offered at Dunedin and the role of BGANZ in assisting members to review with relevance their collections will see this training delivered to more botanic gardens and arboreta.


As education is at the core of all of our sites and is our very reason for being – it is timely to see the Botanic Garden Education Network (BGEN) start to be reinvigorated to create better links and information sharing especially in the face of the recently introduced national curriculum in Australia. I’d like to thanks our members that participate in the working groups and encourage anyone with an interest to join in - perhaps just to listen in at first – then take a more proactive role at sharing and discussing ideas. For as Anne Duncan reminded us in her speech – “From little things, big things grow” – if we all can contribute a little – together we’ll achieve much. Formalising a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Friends of Botanic Gardens (AFGB) will assist us all with reinforcing our relevance – as our Friends and volunteer groups are a key window to our wider communities and many members would not exist without the time, dedication and fund raising provided by members of the AFBG. I look forward to the next two years, the opportunity to visit more members and to work with the BGANZ Council to make a difference. I’ll work to keep botanic gardens and arboreta prominent in the awareness of and high on the agenda with our funding bodies, government and our international partnerships. And if you haven’t already – please mark in your calendar 27-30 October, 2015 where we shall all meet again in Wollongong at the 7th BGANZ Congress.

Farewell Anne Duncan. BGANZ past President The Dunedin Congress was a great success - the opportunity it provided to meet with colleagues from all over the world was for many a once in a lifetime experience and I would like to thank Dunedin City Council, Alan Matchett and each and every one of his staff, for making it possible for our members. It is hard to encapsulate the experience in words – such a variety of moods and colours – from the intense gardens discussions BGANZ former President at every break, to the wonderful cultural Anne Duncan Maori experience which pervaded the whole conference from start to finish, to the good old fashioned rock’n roll band at the dinner (I don’t think I would be the only one who had not danced like that for years!) I enjoyed the whole experience – and I know from the people I spoke to that all our members did.

There is no doubt that the biggest challenge is to find more resources for BGANZ. I hope that the ‘inspiration factor’ will last a long time and result in some ‘doing’. We will endeavour to get as much material from the Congress as we can on to the web so that those who were not able to attend have an opportunity to share some of the learning, and please, those who did attend – make the effort to share the experience with your colleagues.



BGANZ Membership news It has come to the end of my time on BGANZ Council, and as President, and I would like to thank all of the members for giving me inspiration – it has so totally made it worthwhile. I hope I have managed in some small way to help BGANZ make a difference for your professional life in gardens. There is no doubt that the biggest challenge is to find more resources for BGANZ, which I did not manage to “crack” – but I am optimistic, that putting in place the constitutional basis for corporate membership may be a small start in the right direction. I am also optimistic, because gardens are becoming more relevant in our fast urbanising world, not less. So BGANZ as an organisation, and indeed you as member gardens, need to be bold (use that communications toolkit!) and make sure that you are all at the head of the queue, not the back, when it comes to seeking funding from wherever it might be available (and not just from government!). The great thing about gardens is their ultimate flexibility – they can be everything to everyone and equally one special thing to a special group. It just needs having enough courage to be open-minded and visionary to see the opportunities. I look forward to watching BGANZ grow and develop, as I hope that each individual member garden will do. Gardens have a very important role in the future of our communities and we have a responsibility to share the passion with whoever will listen! I will certainly continue to champion gardens, in particular regional gardens, in any way that I can.

Eamonn Flanagan, Executive Officer New BGANZ Council elected.

BGANZ Council 2013–15

Council Position



Council Term Commenced

Dale Arvidsson John Sandham Peter Sergel John Arnott Lesley Hammersley phill Parsons Chris Connolly Paul Tracey Peter Byron Judy West Stephen Forbes Vacant

President Treasurer VP (New Zealand) VP (Australia)              

Queensland South Australia NZ Victoria West Australia Tasmania NZ NSW ACT Capital City Capital City Northern Territory

Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens Botanic Gardens of Adelaide Hamilton Botanic Gardens Royal Cranbourne Botanic Gardens BGPA Perth Tasmania Arboretum Wollongong Botanic Gardens Australian National Botanic Gardens Australian National Botanic Gardens Botanic Gardens of Adelaide  

2009 2011 2013 2011 2011 2011 2013 2013 2013 2013 2011

BGANZ Membership at work BGANZ provided grants to 17 BGANZ members, totalling $7,000, to attend the recent Congress held recently in Dunedin. The 17 recipients of the 6th BGANZ Congress Grants: Applicant




David Reid Megan Hirst Patrick Barrett Phil Mulroyan Kate Heffernan Grady Brand Lesley Hammersley Benedict Lyte Maya Harrison

RBG Tasmania RBG Melbourne HRCC Victoria Geelong BG BGANZQ BGPA BGPA Eastwoodhill Arboretum Mackay RBG

Judith Trimble phil parsons Helen Paulson Janelle Hatherly Ross Demuth Andrea Dennis Paul Birch John Zwar

Friends of Geelong Tasmania Arboretum Gladstone Regional Council Individual Member Mackay RBG Maranoa BG Maranoa BG Friends of the Australian Arid lands Botanic garden



Botanic in Brief It’s not possible to have a botanic garden in the dry zone in Sri Lanka!

Contacts for BGANZ professional groups:

Developing a new Botanical Garden is no easy task as Dr. Siril Wijesundara, Director General of the Department of National Botanic Gardens, the man behind the Mirijjawila Dry Zone Botanic Gardens, Hambantota well knows. “Some people could not believe that it is possible to have lush greenery in the Dry Zone, let alone a Botanical Garden,” he says, happy to have taken on the challenge. Read more

BGANZ Professional Development Working Group Kate Heffernan: BGEN (Botanic Gardens Education Network Sharon Willoughby: BRON (BGANZ Records Officers Network) Tom Myers: BGANZ Updates: If you’d like to receive all updates and the Botanic Garden directly, please ensure we have your correct email address.

Number of botanical gardens

1 billion dollar budget gardens? Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay had a billion dollar capital budget! The final construction cost for the project, not including the price of the land but including an access road, drainage works, and soil improvement, was within a $1.035 billion allocated budget. The annual operating cost was expected to be approximately $58 million, of which $28 million was for operation of the Conservatory buildings.  

Official opening of the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens Set aside Sunday 8 December for the official opening of the gardens, commencing at 11am with the arrival of the NSW Governor. All financial members of the SHBG will be receiving an invitation by mail next week.

Red Centre Garden opens in Canberra Imagine yourself wandering through the Red Centre. The Red  Centre Garden showcases the iconic significance of the continent’s red centre as the physical and spiritual heart of Australia, right here in the nation’s botanic garden within the nation’s capital. Read more

Tim Entwisle honoured with La Trobe’s Distinguished Alumni Award 2013 The current Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, Professor Tim Entwisle, and a previous Superintendent of the Gardens, Dr Michael Looker, have both received La Trobe University’s highest honour – the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2013. Professor Entwisle’s previous roles have included eight years as Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney and two years in executive leadership at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.



Profile BGANZ Record numbers at Melbourne’s botanic gardens In all, 2,006,670 visitors (1,810,687 at RBG Melbourne and 195,983 at RBG Cranbourne) visited the Gardens including 155,177 at the Australian Garden, 248,180 at The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, and 28,380 students at both sites.

In each issue of Botanic Garden we focus on a BGANZ Member through a series of questions and answers (Q&As). If you know someone we should profile please let us know. This edition we meet: Finn Michalak Collection Curator Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve, Wellington, NZ

Save our Flora Bob and Wendy Ross and I (Maria Hitchcock) have just launched an independent national project aimed at developing an online registry of individuals and groups around Australia who are growing or who wish to grow our rare and threatened flora. Many of us already have some of these plants in our gardens. I was surprised to find I had 27 species on the ROTAP list. We would like to develop a network of people interested in conserving our flora and a good way to do this is to spread them around gardens by sharing cuttings, seed and information. 

I guess I was introduced to plants at an early age. My dad was a National Trust head gardener in the East of England. He is passionate about plants and gardens, and is an excellent gardener. His love and enthusiasm has certainly been passed on.

A bursary brought me to New Zealand to learn about the flora. The incredible landscapes and working at this fine botanic garden will keep me here. Otari defines everything that is important to me about botanic gardens. Conservation, recreation, education and a superb collection of plants.

International Diploma in Botanic Garden Education Apply now for the International Diploma in Botanic Garden Education. Organised by BGCI and RBG, Kew, this course provides novice or experienced educators with the skills required to establish and develop a learning program in their garden. Deadline for applications is 12 February, 2014. Find out more  

Wollongong Botanic Garden, New South Wales, Australia.

Finn Michalak, how did you first get involved in plant life and botanic gardens?

However, it took me a while to realise my vocation. I originally trained in archaeology. I didn’t start gardening until I was 24 when I had to get a job and stop living frivolously. Immediately hooked, I went on to horticultural college in Cornwall. I would visit gardens regularly and gained as much practical experience as possible (often voluntarily).

To register simply reply to:

BGANZ Congress – October 27–30 October 2015

Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve, Wellington, NZ

What do you enjoy about your role at Otari Native Botanic garden?

Finn Michalak Collection Curator

Mostly looking at plants, but also the variety of the job itself. In my role as collection curator I am responsible for the care of half of the collections and the running of the nursery.


We are often visited by schools. Interacting with students and creating educational programs for various ages is fun and a great way to pass on knowledge and the story of plants. We are starting to focus on propagating rare and threatened plants which make nursery work interesting and challenging. Soon we’ll be working in partnership with the New Zealand seed bank, so more field work in the future. The job certainly gets me out in the field to collect plant material. I find this part of the job very rewarding.


Do you have a favourite plant or special area at Otari Native Botanic Gardens? I come from an area in England that is almost at sea level, so I am strangely fascinated with alpine plants. I never thought I would have a love affair with Hebe, but alpine Hebe are fine things. With or without flower.

Although when asked my favourite New Zealand plant I usually think of Olearia lacunosa. It doesn’t look great in this garden, but above the tree line of the Tararuas it looks superb. With New Zealand flora it is often a more subtle beauty other than gregarious inflorescence. Also Drosera sp. and Coriaria sp. and Celmisia sp. and ... and ...

What is the biggest challenge facing botanic gardens? For me it is being relevant today without compromising what we are as a garden. I understand that we must embrace new ideas to engage with our audience, but hopefully not at the expense of this natural sanctuary. The challenge is engaging with a bigger audience about the importance of plant and habitat conservation while also providing a fun place for recreation. We believe plants are cool, and in a world increasingly obsessed with technology the challenge has certainly been laid down. Can you tell us about someone you admire in sector and why? The BGCI conference in Dunedin this year introduced me to many admirable figures in the sector. David Rae of RBGE certainly stood out. His talk was a rousing call for horticulturists to stand tall and proud. Our knowledge and experience are still hugely relevant and our changing world certainly needs us. And Chipper Wichman of National Tropical Botanical Hawai’i, who is clever enough to live and work in paradise.

Otari Native Botanical Garden, Wellington, NZ



5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress / 6th Biennial Botanic Gardens Australia & New Zealand Congress, 20-25th October Dunedin, New Zealand A global message from an old bird Megan J Hirst,The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. Contact Like the messenger bird, I flew into Dunedin, New Zealand over snow-capped mountains, to present my story, share my news and collect much more in return. And, like the mythical Maori Albatross, the international messenger bird collecting knowledge from across our vast oceans to bring home, I too carry messages. Dunedin was the temporary resting place for over 300 messenger birds from around the globe, coming together for the 5th Global Botanic Garden Congress. And the resounding message throughout the week long conference was: ‘Prepare for Change’. While at no time in history has there been as many botanic gardens on earth, the geographic range of many plants is contracting, shifting or halting completely. Conversely, there are opportunistic plants increasing in range size to the detriment of others. The trend we can feel positive about here is the increase in the total land area reserved as botanic gardens. These public spaces hold many ex situ and living collections, representing current flora, and those sadly extinct in the wild. There are many messages from the congress, but here is this old bird’s top five: 1. Prepare to change within. Dr David Rae, the Director of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, spoke of the worrying decline in horticultural staff numbers, resulting

in a loss of standards which can impact negatively not only on an institute’s plant collections, but on other programs such as research and education. He spoke of horticulture as the necessary core of a botanic institution, and the place to build upon, not peel away. Recruiting and retaining high quality horticulturists requires a shift in perception and some inward reflection by each institution to understand their current workplace culture and practices. Involving horticulturists across an institution’s various programs will increase knowledge transfer, the level of staff engagement and reinstate the gardener as an integral and core member of staff. 2. Prepare for species change. Ex situ collections are not the total solution for safe- guarding species; however they are highly valuable, capturing plant diversity and a slice of genetic history. Botanic gardens can play an important role in facilitating the reintroduction and/or revegetation of degraded areas with exsitu plant material, using their plant knowledge and laboratory techniques to achieve this. Dr Colin Chubbe, from The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, spoke of the success using micro-propagation in the rescue and conservation of a rediscovered endemic fern Anogramma ascenionis on Ascension Island. Dr Jenny Guerin from the

Botanic Gardens of Adelaide explained how seed collections from their state’s seed bank were used in experimental seed burial work to gain an understanding of the germination behaviour of an endangered endemic herb. 3. Prepare and capture the genetic diversity. DNA sampling and sequencing of genes from ex-situ plant collections within a botanic garden, can provide valuable information to understand the patterns of genetic diversity both within a collection, and compared to their wild relatives. Dr Patrick Griffith of Montgomery Botanical Centre in the United States stated in his presentation on ex-situ collections that ‘survival requires diversity’, and to achieve this such collections must capture genetic diversity through extensive sampling methods, ensuring as many populations are represented within a collection as possible. 4. Be prepared and they will come. Conducting surveys and focus groups can increase our understanding of why people like to visit us and why not. To increase tourism, and gain a greater understanding of different cultural needs, keeping regular visitors engaged and capturing a sought after demographic can happen through well planned and unbiased externally operated social research.


Dr David Rae, the Director of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, spoke of the worrying decline in horticultural staff numbers, resulting in a loss of standards. The symposium aptly titled ‘Tourism is not a dirty word’ presented case studies on how market research was an integral part of increasing visit numbers. Introducing a Christmas light show as a ‘new tradition’ by Atlanta Botanic Gardens was sophisticated, large scale and the end result was very savvy. 5. Prepare more plant science. Use it, flaunt it, collaborate with it ... It doesn’t always have to be hard so apply it, and better still, apply it unevenly across all programs. To propose more plant science, the crux of this message is, the content may not change, but the method of delivery might. Combining science with the singles scene for example, was a fascinating way Atlanta Botanic Gardens combined two programs (science and public programs) to deliver a very different calendar event in a sought after demographic (young professionals who would rarely visit a botanic garden). It was a hit. If horticulture is the core then science is the seed. We can plant our research questions, and nurture them throughout an institute’s programs, watching them take root into education, public programs, marketing and calendar events, for example. Science can weave and bind programs which may appear as quite separate entities, and in the process bring staff together. Q. How can all these botanic gardens (>3,000) some of which are very old and distinguished, be one voice to address the global challenges ahead? A. Release the messenger birds, and release them often.


Why gardens are important, especially now Sophia Siskel, President & CEO, Chicago Botanic Garden BGCI Plenary Session, Dunedin, New Zealand, 24 October, 2013 I want to talk today about why gardens are important, especially now. To support this position, I will be using evidence from the Chicago Botanic Garden, because that’s my part of the globe. But we all face the same set of challenges regardless of where we call home. I will attempt to prove that we can turn the challenges we all face into opportunities to serve. Forty-five years ago, the founders of the Chicago Botanic Garden transformed a 385-acre flood plain – severely damaged by highway construction, farming, and missile storage – into a spectacular campus on nine islands surrounded by 81 acres of water. Our master plan was inspired by an 18thcentury Chinese Garden, the Garden of Perfect Brightness. This is my only Powerpoint slide – Our website is full of photographs of our garden and our strategic planning website ( is complete with much of what I will share today. Our living museum is now home to 2.5 million carefully curated and documented plants across 10,000 taxa. We curate 26 horticultural display gardens, a 100-acre oak woodland, 15-acre prairie, and a robust suite of visitor and community programs. We invest deeply in plant

Chicago Botanic Garden

conservation science and education. And every day, I am motivated by the possibility of realizing our founders’ impossible dream to achieve “perfect brightness.” We employ 700 people across 16 states in peak season and 250 full-time staff in winter. We are fortunate to be supported by over 2,000 volunteers and 50,000 member households. Clearly, we are a big garden – bigger than most. But that hardly matters. Botanic gardens – regardless of their size – are important. Gardens are especially important now, as people seek places that offer refuge and comfort, education, health and healing, inspiration, sources of food and jobs and conservation of the environment.


We employ 700 people across 16 states in peak season and 250 full-time staff in winter. We are fortunate to be supported by over 2,000 volunteers and 50,000 member households. At the Chicago Botanic Garden we are seeing record attendance, support, and recognition. Our attendance this year will most likely top one million people for the first time. This attendance is the culmination of a consistent, steady year-over-year increase of over 45% since 2005. We have seen two record-breaking years for fundraising. To me, these points of reference serve as evidence of the growing relevance of gardens. It also tells me that the particular focus and efforts of our garden are working. HOWEVER, since I became the CEO the Chicago Botanic Garden, I have had to spend so much time explaining to influential civic leaders and anyone who will listen, why gardens are important. We suffer from people discounting our work because we do it in “pretty places.” Enough! We need to work together – through all of our available alliances – to strengthen and coordinate our message and emphasize the importance of what we do. Our success in coordinating and broadly communicating the role gardens play is essential for realizing the goals of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Our success is essential to ensure the future of botanic gardens, and, moreover, for the future of life as we know it on earth. I believe that while we all know why gardens are important or we wouldn’t turn up for work every day, we are sometimes too


shy or too reticent to say it boldly. A turning point for my own self-confidence in this regard came when we were developing our 10-year strategic plan called “Keep Growing.” In this process, we wrote out our three core values or belief statements, which guide us today: I will read them – (again these are on our website): We believe that beautiful gardens and natural environments are fundamentally important to the mental and physical well-being of all people. We believe that people live better, healthier lives when they create, care for, and enjoy gardens. And we believe: The future of life on earth depends on how well we understand, value, and protect plants, other wildlife, and the natural habitats that sustain our world. We also recently rewrote our mission statement to embody these values. It is:

Let me give you six examples of the types of challenges that botanic gardens can turn into opportunities. First, the greatest challenge of our day-to-day lives at the moment is a general uncertainty, anxiety, and the constant onslaught of bad news we hear all around us. It is often paralysing. But a garden is a place where hope for the future can be rekindled; where the healing power of nature is evident every day, calming the spirit and nurturing the body and mind. A garden is a place where people can go to solve their problems and move forward to action. Each season and every program in a garden offers a respite from the stresses of the world. A garden is a place to enjoy and to share with friends and family or to experience alone in times of celebration, and in times of mourning and sickness. A garden, through its formal design, and informal programs brings joy and hopefully some well-needed peace to everyone.

We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. The values and mission we have articulated can be applied to each of the gardens – regardless of size, focus, or audience – represented by those of us in this room. Gardens are important, especially now, because our beautiful grounds, our services, and our science address the issues and challenges of our time. Gardens provide comfort and present solutions to people faced with uncertainty in an uncertain time, to people who face the challenges inherent with getting old, and to people of all ages and backgrounds who seek science education, jobs training, healthy food, and safe recreation. Gardens are healers. We discover solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change and offer therapy to people in need. As leaders of botanic gardens, we are turning the world’s greatest challenges into great opportunities to serve.

First, the greatest challenge of our day-to-day lives at the moment is a general uncertainty, anxiety, and the constant onslaught of bad news we hear all around us. It is often paralyzing. But, a garden is a place where hope for the future can be rekindled. The second type of contemporary challenge that gardens address is supporting the needs of an aging population. By 2050, in the United States, one in five people will be over sixty-five. The fastest growing segment of U.S. society is over eighty. A Garden may also appreciate THIS challenge as an opportunity to serve.


The Chicago Botanic Garden embraces an older audience by offering: opportunities to volunteer; exercise and educational programs and entertainment. All our facilities are wheelchair accessible, and we do not charge a per-person admission fee to enter our garden. So, large, often four-generation, often nonEnglish-speaking families can enjoy a day together. We recently counted 37 different languages spoken on a Sunday morning. One of my most favourite memories is of a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden with my then-90-year old grandfather, my mother, and my toddler sons – the younger one rode in my grandfather’s lap in his wheelchair. This type of excursion – one that fulfils the different needs of four generations and brings us closer to those we love – happens so easily and enjoyably at a garden. We also have a new vital relationship with our region’s largest healthcare system, which deepens our effectiveness in this area. This healthcare system operates four major hospitals – they now think of the Chicago Botanic Garden as their fifth hospital – a sort of wellness centre or campus. Our gardens help people live better, healthier and more satisfying lives. A third challenge we all face is making sure that everyone receives a strong education in science, technology, engineering, and math. But it is a challenge – and again an opportunity – to ensure that strong science education is available to all children. Again, gardens are stepping up to serve. Gardens provide individuals of all ages and backgrounds with engaging science classes and programs.


This past year, the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden offered over 1,500 classes, instructing over 120,000 people. As far we know, the Chicago Botanic Garden is the only one internationally that offers formal education programs from pre-K to Ph.D. In addition, in a very fruitful partnership, Chicago Botanic Garden scientists and educators have worked together to create the first U.S. national climate change curriculum for grades 4-12, funded by NASA – this will be launched early next year. And we are building a strong relationship with educators at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago to share this curriculum within both the botanic garden and zoo communities. Our education programs foster a knowledge and love of nature and an interest in science careers in people from all backgrounds, with a special focus on students from poorer schools and black and Latino students, who have historically been underrepresented in science careers in the United States. In fact, to meet the demand for the Garden’s classes, we are in the process of creating a new seven-acre Learning Campus. At the heart of the Learning Campus is a new Education Centre – which I think of as a community school open from 6 am to 9 pm for children and adults alike. Also on the Campus will be a new play garden, made from all natural materials.

The Learning Campus is a new Education Centre – which I think of as a community school open from 6 am to 9 pm for children and adults alike. Botanic garden leaders understand that a fascination with a brightly coloured blossom has the potential to bloom into a career in plant science, a lifelong commitment to conservation, or a devotion to gardening and growing our own food.

And speaking of food, a fourth contemporary challenge gardens address is eating well and getting regular exercise. As Chipper Wichman said, addressing poverty and hunger are critical if we are going to achieve our conversation goals. Getting good food and exercise, however, is a challenge for many people. Gardens, through onsite and community-based agricultural investments, train people how to grow and cook food and how to get a job in farming, nutrition, and food distribution. The Chicago Botanic Garden operates a jobs-training program called Windy City Harvest, which farms over six acres at eight sites in urban Chicago. We have farms at the County Jail, the City Colleges, Public Schools, Kraft Foods Corporation, at the stadium of one of our major league baseball teams, and on the 20,000-square-foot roof of Chicago’s Convention Centre. In 2013, program participants are on their way to harvesting 80,000 pounds of food of which 50% is donated to food pantries and social service programs. Nearly 90% of our program’s graduates have gone on to employment in food-related fields. And for wellness, the Garden’s main campus has become the most popular (and economical) community and fitness centre in our region. People of all ages and backgrounds, visit the Garden to walk, to practice yoga or tai chi, or to take any number of wellness classes, from dawn to past dusk. Collectively, our fifth challenge is conserving the environment. Although every primary school curriculum begins with plants, people still don’t realize that all life depends on plants. I am always surprised when people look at me with awe and a little doubt when I explain that we rely on plants for our food, clean air and water, medicine, shelter, and clothing.


As you all know, gardens play a role in meeting the environmental challenges of our time; one of our most essential opportunities is to communicate that plants are essential to the entire web of life. At the Chicago Botanic Garden, we use a motto, “Save the Plants, Save the Planet.” Within the Chicago Botanic Garden’s 38,000-square-foot Plant Conservation Science Centre and at field sites throughout the United States, more than 200 Chicago Botanic Garden scientists, graduate students, and interns discover important knowledge about plants, what changes can result from a loss in plant diversity and healthy habitat, and seek to discover ways to reverse the damage. Our scientists are known for creating practical land and water management tools and solutions to address environmental challenges, including appropriately managing plant populations and plant and soil communities, especially within humanimpacted landscapes. We make a unique contribution to solving present-day ecological problems by integrating systematics, theoretical research, applied solutions, and adaptive management to save individual species – as well as communities of diverse species – at varying geographic scales.

“Save the Plants, Save the Planet.” The Chicago Botanic Garden also operates the national Conservation Land Management Intern Program with the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, in 15 western U.S. states. We are engaged with the Seeds of Success and Millennium Seed Bank programs, the Centre for Plant Conservation, and I serve as chair of the Plant Conservation Alliance non-governmental organizations committee.


Our Masters and PhD program with Northwestern University trains students who will lead the world in our field; so far the Chicago Botanic Garden program has graduated 35 master’s students. Additionally, 23 are currently enrolled, together with 11 students on their way to earning their Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Conservation. As the planet’s population continues to grow to 10 billion people by 2050, we will need to determine the best way to interact with nature and better serve as the translators of the science we are conducting in our gardens. It is urgent that we build a unified, compelling message about the importance of plants, and work in partnership with a wide array of governmental and nongovernmental international conservation organizations – from land trusts to zoos to gardens to communicate it. Finally, we all face the challenge and responsibility of caring for people who have suffered physical and mental trauma and disability. As a garden leader, I see an opportunity to serve war veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome or who need practice with a new prosthetic limb. I have witnessed the power of gardens to help children and adults with autism, who are blind, and people who face other physical and emotional challenges. Gardens deliver healing and generate positive well-being to everyone who enters; focused, science-based horticultural therapy programs build on this inherent strength. Working with plants builds dexterity, relieves stress, fights depression, and increases well-being.

And creating a thriving garden, whether big or small, public or on our windowsill, requires us to live what I bundle together into my “gardening ethic.”

The Chicago Botanic Garden leads the field in horticultural therapy: our therapists offer a wide range of services at our main campus, and also teach courses, host symposia, and consult on hospital and school garden planning. Our extensive therapy programs extend beyond our physical boundaries, serving numerous veterans’ centres, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and on-line providers. For example, we recently launched an online gardening program for the blind. We also are privileged to work with patients and their families in hospice. In summary, gardens are a refuge. Gardens are a good value – visitors can return over and over again and Mother Nature always provides something new. Botanic gardens are a place for a diverse population of people to enjoy with family of all ages, or alone. Gardens bring positive press to our regions and generate funds for our local economies. Botanic gardens’ education, community, therapy, and science programs help assure a better future. And creating a thriving garden, whether big or small, public or on our windowsill, requires us to live what I bundle together into my “gardening ethic.” In order to grow, literally or metaphorically, we need to embrace the key tenets of gardening – patience, beautiful design, science, learning from each other, hard work, respect, and faith. We have the opportunity and responsibility to “cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life.” As garden leaders, we offer important services that address – and can solve in unique ways – the problems and challenges of our time. Although our ancestors – not too long ago! – understood the critical nature of gardens and plants, the importance of gardens in the minds of many people today is still under recognized.


Although our ancestors – not too long ago! – understood the critical nature of gardens and plants, the importance of gardens in the minds of many people today is still under recognized. So, it is our challenge, or, moreover, our opportunity to seize the day in communicating and offering our services. You are already dedicated to this mission or you wouldn’t have come all this way. Now I ask you to remember the words that started our week “be messenger birds.” Let’s all fly home and decide to be an agent of change – a leader, a champion, a translator and to work together. Because, if we remember that gardens are important to the physical and emotional wellbeing of all people – and to all life on earth, if we continue to evolve our programs as the needs of our diverse communities change, and if we each – spiritually, physically, philosophically, and intellectually – relish the honour we have to lead gardens whose beauty becomes more intense and important with every hour, we will play an essential role in addressing the world’s challenges – for people today – and for those who will rest in the shade of our trees for many years to come.


Improved planning can help improve human health: the role of botanic gardens Ian McAlister, Manager Horticultural Services, Dubbo City Council



In a relatively short period of time, humans have moved from living in small, largely rural, communities with easy access to nature and natural systems, to highly urbanised and global communities where it is easier to connect with the electronic age than it is to the natural world. Although the literature on the effects of this loss of connection with the natural world covers a broad range of views, three major themes emerge repeatedly throughout the literature reviewed. These themes are:

“Long after humans had begun to erect dwellings, local healing spaces were nearly always found in nature – a healing spring, a sacred grove, a special rock or cave” (Marcus & Barnes 1999 (p. 1)). Why then does nature play such an important role in human health and well-being?

1. The benefits of accessible green space with regards to general health and well-being, stress management, recovery from illness, quality of life and longevity. 2. The cost benefits to the community in the provision of green spaces and the need for collaboration between urban planners, green space providers, health administrators. 3. The importance of these landscapes in the developmental stages of children. This paper will primarily focus on the derived health benefits that people living in a highly urbanised setting can gain through having access to publicly owned/controlled green spaces that includes botanic gardens.

There are currently three main theories linking health with the natural environment, these being the Biophilia Theory, the Attention Restorative Theory, and the Psycho-physiological Stress Recovery Theory. A summary of the three theories is provided below from Marshall 2010 (pp. 2/3): • Biophilia Theory suggests that we, as humans, seek contact with other species and have a need to be close to nature (Croucher et. al. 2007), • Attention Restorative Theory states that the outdoors and natural environments can assist in recovery from attention fatigue by allowing people to distance themselves from routine activities (Croucher et. al. 2007, Nordh et. al. 2009), and the • Stress Reduction Theory suggests that the outdoors can assist in recovery from stressful events by different types of environment triggering emotional and physiological responses (Croucher 2007, Nordh et. al. 2007).


While there are significant differences between the three theories, Bird 2007 (p. 8), suggests that all three of these theories propose some deep genetic coding that underpins our preference and ability to recover in natural environments. If this is the case and humans are predisposed to the environment that we evolved in, the question posed by Sullivan 2005 “What are the consequences of living in places that have no resemblance to the landscapes that supported our evolution?” needs to be investigated.

Has this disengagement with nature been a double edged sword resulting in detrimental effects on our health and well-being? While westernisation has doubled our life expectancy (Maller, Townsend, Pyror, Brown and St Leger 2005 (p. 45)) has this disengagement with nature been a double edged sword resulting in detrimental effects on our health and well-being? Maller et. al. 2005 (p. 45), cites McMichael 2001 (p. 2), concludes that as a result of living longer, and as our patterns of living, consuming and environmental exposures change, the non-communicable diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer begin to dominate the medical statistics. This line of thinking is in accordance with William and Crabtree 2011 (p. 375) who claim that the benefits of having access to green spaces includes a “reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular illness, and colon cancer; psychological benefits from reduction in stress: and improved air quality resulting in a reduction in respiratory diseases”.


To help put the cost of some of these diseases to our health systems and society in context: • Depression-related illnesses affects over three million Australians and cost the economy AUD$3.3 billion annually in lost productivity (Beyondblue, 2005 in Maller 2005 (p. 45)). • 1,086,860 Australians are registered on the National Diabetes Service Scheme with nearly 937,500 people identified with Type 2 diabetes (NDSS 2013). Type 2 diabetes costs the economy AUD$10.3billion (Bird 2011).

cardiovascular disease by up to 25% (NCCDPHP 1999 in Willis and Crabtree 2011 (pp. 376/7)) Type 2 diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis, and improve mental health and mood (Coutts 2010 (p. 446) citing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). Ellaway, Macintyre and Bonnefoy 2005 (p. 612) found a strong correlation within the adult population between high levels of accessible greenery resulting in increased physical activity and a lower incidence of obesity, as shown in Figure 1 below.

• 61% of the Australian population are either overweight or obese, with 26% of males and 24% of females with a BMI >30kg/m2 (obese). 25% of children aged 5-17 years are overweight or obese (NSW Dept of Health 2008). Studies have shown that simply the provision of accessible green space is often enough to motivate people to increase their activity level and gain considerable health benefits. Takano, Nakamura & Watanabe 2002 (p. 913) and Maas, Verheij, Groenewegen, de Vries & Spreeuwenberg 2006 (p. 587) claim that the provision of comparatively plentiful walkable green spaces near residences correlated with a lower risk of mortality and morbidity (Maas, Verheij, de Vries, Speeuwenberg & Schellevis, 2009 (p. 970)), especially in lower socioeconomic groups. This is supported by a study conducted by Sugiyama, Francis, Nicholas, Middleton, Owen & Giles-Corti 2010 (p. 1175) who also found that adults that had improved access to larger green spaces were more likely to regularly use walking as an exercise and experienced enhanced physical health as a result. Not only can the simple activity of walking improve general health it can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 14% and

Figure 1. Relationship between the level of greenery, physical activity and obesity. Ellaway, Macintyre and Bonnefoy 2005



The following case study located at Dubbo demonstrates how a local government entity can take a leading role in the strategic planning and provision of a highly connected open space system to provide opportunities and encourage residents into physical activity.

The incidence of childhood obesity has also been found to be significantly lower in areas that have a higher level of available green space. In a study undertaken by Bell, Wilson & Lui 2008 (p. 5) the difference in weight gain between children living near green areas against those who lived in a more urbanised setting was 5.1kg for girls and 5.9kg for boys.

Case Study – Dubbo

For children, in general, the presence and accessibility of natural play spaces can contribute a vital role in their development and provide a range of beneficial outcomes that include: • improved physical development (strength and flexibility), • improved cognitive and imagination)




• improved social development (sharing and social interaction with others) Bagot 2005 (pp. 12/13) citing Hughes 1998, Pellegrini 1990 and Bjorklund & Brown 1998) • the development of independence and connectedness with the ecological world, and • and improvement to a child’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing through the combination of play experiences and contact with nature provides a diversity of play experiences Lester & Maudsley 2006 (p. 14). An increasing amount of evidence supports the benefits of green spaces to children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its potential to utilise nature-based restorative therapy as a non-medicating and inexpensive treatment for children suffering from ADD/ADHD. Results from studies carried out by Faber Taylor, Kuo & Sullivan 2001 (p. 73), and Kuo & Faber Taylor 2004 (p. 1584) found that children suffering from ADD, or ADHD, significantly

Figure 2. Relationship between the level of greenery, physical activity and obesity. Ellaway, Macintyre and Bonnefoy 2005

benefited from time spent in green spaces, with the “greener” the space the less severe the attention deficient symptoms exhibited by the child became. The research showed that children undertaking nature-based activities exhibited reduced ADD symptoms by up to 30% compared to urban outdoor activities (p. 65) and a three fold reduction in symptoms where the same nature-based activity was carried out indoors (Bird 2007 (p. 78)). Figure 2 from Bird 2011 shows this positive relationship between improved behaviour of children with ADHD undertaking nature based activities compared to indoor activities or activities within an outdoor built environment. With the overwhelming evidence of the benefits that green spaces can provide to humans, it would appear that rather than reducing or eliminating the presence of nature within an urbanised context we should be prudently planning for its inclusion.

The City of Dubbo is located in central NSW, approximately 400km northwest of Sydney. Dubbo has a population of some 41,000 people, but services over 120,000 people and approximately one third of NSW due to its location at the geographical centre of the state. The city has a relatively large amount of public open space which is largely concentrated along the river corridor that caters for active and passive recreational pursuits, as well providing for biodiversity and conservation opportunities. Once outside this “green spine” the recreational spaces become small and fragmented as they lose their connectivity to each other due to the built environment (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Map of Dubbo city


Historically this has not the case. In many urban centres, our availability to nature is limited to highly fragmented and often small parcels of land which have been left over from developers. While these small isolated patches of nature can still provide ecological and health benefits (Coutts 2010 (p. 448)) albeit limited, there is an alternative framework proposed by Benedict and McMahon 2002 (pp. 6/7) entitled “Green Infrastructure” that: • effectively repositions open space from something that is nice to have to something we must have; • moves away from isolated parks, recreation sites or natural areas to an interconnected network of open space that is protected and managed for the benefits they provide to the environment and people; and • whereby green space is often thought to be self-sustaining, green infrastructure implies that it must be actively maintained and restored.

Walkable green spaces do not necessarily have to be parks per se, but is beneficial if these walkways lead to and interconnect with higher level parks, or hubs. Through the adoption and implementation of the green infrastructure framework, Benedict and McMahon 2002 (pp. 15/16) advocate that it will enable improved planning, establishment, maintenance and restoration of a park system that can compete for public funds on an equal footing with other essential services and infrastructure. Considering that the development of parks is often only considered after all other infrastructure is completed, this constitutes a huge shift in philosophy.


An example of how this “green infrastructure” can benefit human health has already been discussed (Takano, Nakamura & Watanabe 2002 (p. 913)) and their “walkable green spaces”. These walkable green spaces do not necessarily have to be parks per se, but is beneficial if these walkways lead to and interconnect with higher level parks, or hubs (Coutts 2007 (p. 448)) that can help repair the effects of urban fragmentation. Further support of this finding is provided by van Dillen, de Vries, Groenewegan and Spreeuwenberg 2012 (p. 8) who found that streetscape greenery is at least as important to health as green areas.

Conclusion Maller et. al 2005 (p. 50) and Benedict and McMahon 2002 (p. 22) both argue that the success of implementing a sustainable development framework that ensures accessible nature is provided for all and can deliver community benefits will need to involve a collaborative socio-ecological approach.

Development of a Park Street at Dubbo (NSW). Image: Moir Landscape Architects

This multi-disciplinary approach will draw on expertise from sectors including health and environmental management (Maller 2005 (p. 50)), urban and regional planning, landscape ecology and information systems (Benedict and McMahon 2002 (p. 22)) to strategically plan for green infrastructure within the urban environment and ensure that access to nature, and the health and wellness benefits that are derived from being in contact with it, are distributed evenly through all sectors of the urban community. “It is not the presence of buildings or other modern developments that is detrimental to our health, it is the absence of natural elements, such as trees and grassy spaces”. Bagot 2005.

Development of a Park Street at Dubbo (NSW). Image: Moir Landscape Architects



Reflections on the BGCI/BGANZ congress from two perspectives Janelle Hatherly, Education and Interpretation Consultant and Mohammed Al Saidi, Environmental Education Specialist, Oman Botanic Garden When I applied for a BGANZ grant to attend the BGCI/ BGANZ Congress in Dunedin I explained how, at this stage in my professional life, I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to mentor the next generation of botanic garden staff, in particular educators. Attending this world congress enabled me to consolidate my long-standing professional networks and gain insights into the latest approaches to plant conservation and public engagement. I hope my own presentation on ‘inspiration’ and community capacity building stimulated discussion about the important role of learning in botanic gardens.

Mohammed Al Saidi, a young and enthusiastic science teacher, joined the staff of the fledgling Oman Botanic Garden a year ago to develop educational programs. As well as attending the Congress in New Zealand, Mohammed came ‘down under’ for a study tour to see best practice in botanic garden education and interpretation. Together we visited Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens and Australian Botanic Garden (RBG&DT), the Wollongong Botanic Gardens and the Australian National Botanic Garden (ANBG) and the National Arboretum in Canberra. Mohammed has witnessed many school lessons, toured many facilities and gardens, taken part in ANBG’s Bush Capital Celebrations and participated in RBG&DT’s Community Greening outreach program.

2. I was invited to visit many botanic gardens around the world to see their education programs. This would give me more chances to broaden my knowledge about environmental education. 3. Every initiative starts with one person. By starting small, a big project can evolve which impacts on the whole world, e.g. Chipper Wichman’s presentation Addressing global food security through science, innovation and the Polynesian cultural knowledge of breadfruit. 4. Teamwork is very, very important to progress anything in botanic gardens; I noted that all successful projects involved teamwork.

Mohammed Al Saidi, a young and enthusiastic science teacher, joined the staff of the fledgling Oman Botanic Garden a year ago to develop educational programs. We welcome this opportunity to present our perspectives on the Congress, from both ends of the generational spectrum. After the congress, Mohammed provided these insights:

Janelle Hatherly and Mohammed Al Saidi

1. Relationships and connections can help me develop new resources for my work in our botanic garden. I met many people who shared their knowledge and experience with me. They were very happy to give me guidance on how to prepare programs for Oman Botanic Garden.

All successful projects involved teamwork


5. Every person working in botanic gardens can be an educator. I saw presentations showing horticulturists and botanists working as educators. This encourages me to give other staff at the Oman Botanic Garden a chance to be trained as educators. 6. The role of botanic gardens is not only to conserve plants. They can give life to old and indigenous cultures. For example, the congress opened with singing and talking about Maori culture.


Bartered Goods – Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Sara Levin Stevenson,Visitor Programs Coordinator, Mt Cuba Center Inc.

7. Botanic gardens can play a role in health maintenance by encouraging physical activity and by providing healthy recipes. 8. The congress opened my mind to opportunities for furthering my own higher education, e.g. the Longwood Graduate Program. 9. There are specific techniques (I should learn them) to make presentations or talks more attractive and exciting e.g. good photos, coloured slides, sound clips and interesting voices. I echo Mohammed’s sentiments and add these insights: 10. The number of botanic gardens worldwide is on the increase. This is evidence of botanic gardens’ value to contemporary society and that we must be doing something right! It was great to see a shared focus in all the presentations. A significant portion of this success can be attributed to guidance and collaboration provided through professional organisations such as BGCI and BGANZ. 11. In his keynote presentation Partnerships for conservation, Stephen Blackmore reminded us that “nature is on the retreat throughout the planet”. My hopes for the future were raised when I witnessed many examples of how botanic institutions, through their outreach and ex-situ collections, really are making a significant contribution to in-situ conservation worldwide. For example, for the first time in 30 years, the Kunming Institute of Botany has managed to flower and produce seed in a specimen of Magnolia sinica. With only 10 mature individuals in a single population in south-east Yunnan in China, one of the rarest and endangered species of Magnolia in the world is being conserved. 12. Aren’t we fortunate to spend our careers working with plants and passionate multi‑talented people? It was a great congress and thanks to all who made it happen.

Bartram’s Garden educator bartered with people in nearby neighbourhoods

Bartram’s Garden is the historic home and garden of John Bartram, a significant early American botanist, plant explorer and collector. It is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and its onsite collection contains representative specimens of Bartram’s own 18th century collection. The John Bartram Association was founded in 1893 “to protect and enhance the landmark Bartram’s Garden and House, advance the Bartram legacy of discovery, gardening, and art, and inspire audiences of all ages to care for the natural world.” Bartram’s Garden has struggled with being considered a “best kept secret” in Philadelphia that primarily has attracted historians and botanists to its southwest Philadelphia location within in a low-income area.


The garden is a part of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System and therefore the city provides in-kind support through utilities and grounds maintenance and advocates for the garden. However most of the Garden’s operating budget is made up of raised funds, grants, memberships, and space rentals. The staff has made strides to add new programming and garden areas that meet the needs and interests of its immediate community. The garden offers a variety of education programs and has recently developed a community farm and resource centre. In 2012, Bartram’s Garden was awarded a grant by the Pew Center for the Arts through the Heritage Philadelphia Program. This required that the garden think outside the box and create a low-cost program ($1,000 US) that would have great community impact. Thus “Bartered Goods” was developed. For three months in the summer of 2012, a Bartram’s Garden educator bartered with people in nearby neighbourhoods for plants that were loaded on the back of his bicycle. The educator would stop neighbours walking down the street and ask them how valuable the plants were to them and what they would be willing to trade for one.


Mum said, “So what have you learned so far?” Andrea Dennis, Maranoa Botanical Gardens, City of Boroondara,Victoria “So what have you learned so far?” I panicked. It was Tuesday night in Dunedin and I was on the phone to my mother. I blurted out the first thing that came into my mind “botanic gardens are important” “You had to go all the way to New Zealand to find that out?” she said. I sat back and thought. How are they important? What had I learned to make me so sure of this?I already had part of the answer, but confirmation came a couple of days later. I had spent a few days before the conference in Christchurch. Trying to understand some of what we had seen in the news, particularly in 2011. It was unfathomable. Utter destruction.

Plants were exchanged for a variety of objects, ranging from a young student’s report card to one neighbour’s lunch to the coat a man wore when he got his first job. At times a line would form of enthusiastic community members hoping to barter for a plant. All objects were recorded and put on display in the historic John Bartram House. They were placed in the same room that houses the Bartram family artefacts, adding to the importance of these newly traded objects. Over 60 objects were collected and an exhibition opening and celebration were held at the conclusion of the project. Bartered Goods enabled garden staff to connect with the community and expand the interpretation used in the historic Bartram house (Phillips, 2013). The project connected new audiences with horticulture and provided opportunity to reimagine the plant trade in which John Bartram was extremely active. If repeated, the staff hopes to attract more participants from the local community to the exhibition, and to the garden itself. Bartered Goods is an example of how innovative gardens can be when tasked to think outside the box and engage with the community in creative ways.

Gloucester St, outside Rebuild Christchurch display. Artwork is ‘Daisy Connection’ and the ‘Relocatable Reading Room’ parklet. Planter boxes for instant garden. Photo credit: Andrea Dennis


Some cleared ground, piles of rubble as far as the eye could see and the occasional building standing, some undamaged and in use, some deserted with broken windows. Other areas around buildings fenced off waiting for whatever will happen to them. Some of the buildings had been deconstructed rather than demolished so that much of the material can be reused to build a replica. Much of the central city was deserted apart from the construction crews and quake tourists. There were some locals going about their daily business. After an hour it was too much. I wondered how the residents had coped. For them there was no escape. Everywhere I went people were talking about where they were on “The Big Day”.

The Botanical Gardens are the healing balm of this damaged city. Instinctively I sought green spaces. I found a Nature Play Space under construction in Hereford Street and chatted to the gardeners. I found my way back to the parks along the river and followed them for a short way, uncomfortable when I had to leave them. I saw the botanical gardens and scuttled into them like a rabbit into its burrow, coming home to safety. I wrote in my diary that night: The Botanical Gardens are the healing balm of this damaged city. The light bulb moment came on Thursday in the first plenary session of the day. Sophia Shaw Siskel, the President and CEO of Chicago Botanic Gardens put it very neatly: ‘Gardens


provide inspiration, healing, comfort and solace to people faced with uncertainty in an uncertain time’

We can improve the lot of some of the poorest and most socially disadvantaged people in our communities.

But more was to come. Later, one of the audience stood up and with tears in his voice told us when the 2011 Christchurch earthquake happened the Botanical Gardens and Hagley Park were set up for the Ellerslie Flower Show complete with tents and chemical toilets. Many people sought refuge here while their city collapsed around them. With shattered infrastructure, no fresh water or sewers they became a haven for many now homeless people.

We can provide space for people to engage with nature, prevent ‘lifestyle’ diseases such as diabetes and obesity; reduce depression, provide better quality of life for disabled people, even reduce symptoms in children who have ADHD!

During coffee break that morning I overheard many people discussing other living examples: demilitarised zones, New York’s 9/11 terrorist attacks, fire refuges. A couple of people joked that at the least when the revolution came their trees could be used for firewood. Botanical gardens are important for so many other reasons. Many started out as acclimatization gardens to show pioneers in a new region that these plants could grow in their climate and bring a feeling of ”home”. Some of these plants subsequently have become weeds and our role has changed to eradicate and educate. We are “botanical arks”, preserving rare or threatened flora. We can find solutions to habitat restoration and conservation, possibly we can provide ‘stepping stones’ to relocate wild populations affected by climate change into more favourable habitats (a controversial idea). We can educate people about things ranging from the impact of climate change to how carrots grow. We can encourage people get their hands dirty and grow things in the most limited of spaces.

‘Pallet Pavilion’ cafe and garden near Victoria square, corner Durham and Kilmore St. Photo credit: Andrea Dennis

We can provide work and educational opportunities, living resources for experimentation and research. We can form partnerships to further explore the science behind the plants. People need to be close to nature. Soon after the earthquake, ‘pop up’ gardens and green spaces began to appear around the city: gardens in car tyres or cardboard boxes, green walls in pallet boxes surrounding portable cafes. But just by being what we are and providing a clean green space where people feel safe, botanical gardens can inspire and encourage people to make their world a better place. So Mum, yes. I had to go all the way to New Zealand to learn just why botanical gardens are important!



Strengthening the conservation value of tree collections for ex-situ conservation Session Review – William McNamara, Quarryhill BG; Sara Oldfield, BGCI; Dr David Rae, RBG, Edinburgh; Nicole Cavendar, Morton Arboretum Benedict Lyte, Curator – Eastwoodhill Arboretum, New Zealand

threatened trees, with the ultimate goal of species re-introduced to the wild, where possible.

Globally, there are 12,006 threatened plant taxa, of which 9,533 are woody. The speakers presented a broad range of approaches, from one focussed at a garden level through to an almost global approach. Quarryhill is acknowledged as one of the best collections of known-origin woody Asian species. The gardens have collected data regarding other collections with similar goals, in order to assess the status of vulnerable species in collections.

Eastwoodhill Arboretum, New Zealand

The thrust of this symposium was based upon the development of the BGCI manual for integrated tree conservation in the botanical community, which was warmly supported by moderator Gerard Donnelly of the Morton Arboretum. Globally, there are 12,006 threatened plant taxa, of which 9,533 are woody. The situation with regard to conifers is clearer, with a review having taken place earlier this year. A number of genera have been properly studied, leading to the Zelkova Action Plan, but otherwise, the data is based upon best knowledge from the resources available. BGCI is leading a coordinated approach to the work, by linking organisations with the skills to manage the

A concern was highlighted over the loss of a large number of species that had been collected in one of the early trips to China, the SABE trip. Less than a third were still documented in collections and, of these, many were only single accessions. In terms of conservation and re-introduction, it showed the glaring gaps in the process and the lack of data capture and monitoring over time.

share the vision and ethos of the project, as well as ensuring that they would be able to keep the trees for a long period of time. They then manage the plants, with visitation as needed by the project managers. Morton Arboretum has examined its collection management in response to the BGCI manual and has taken into consideration the following needs: space; depth, curation, genetic drift, and allele attrition. They are also compiling a literature review in order to have a thorough overview of the work that has been undertaken, to help focus future efforts. Comparison was made between zoo stud books and the work of a botanical collection. Zoos use the data to leverage information to create public awareness, which is a model that could and should be used by gardens and arboreta. Botanical gardens have had a collection mentality in the past, which is no longer suitable for the current and future challenges of globally threatened species. The symposium concluded that the sharing of data was essential to avoid repetition of work, but more importantly to try and discover the actual content of collections for conservation focus.

RBG Edinburgh operates a program focussing on threatened conifer species, collecting many genotypes of taxa and then growing these on in large numbers at botanic gardens, private estates and secured sites.

This symposium added to the Congress Talking Points 3, 4 and 5: access to plant collection data, participation for all and conservation action.

It was realised early in the project that the gardens did not have the capacity to grow the numbers required which meant establishing links with other organisations. There was a need to

As the curator of a large, well-documented, but poorly resourced tree collection, it provided me with an opportunity to get a better understanding of the global picture and to determine efforts and focus for the future of the arboretum.



BGANZ Grant recipient report on NZ congress John Zwar, South Australia (The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta, SA) An interesting feature for me was that no irrigation is needed as the high rainfall, year round keeps the Garden green.

Lanarch Castle, Dunedin. Photo credit: John Zwar

My BGANZ Grant application was a last minute effort as I had not considered attending the Congress in Dunedin. When notified that I had been awarded a grant, things fell in to place and before long I was on my way. I spent the Friday before the Congress in Auckland and visited the botanic garden there where I met Jack Hobbs the Manager, the Friends administrator and some other staff. The extensive Auckland Botanic Garden was opened in 1982 and is a 64.7ha site, 25 kms from the CBD. Jack showed me around briefly before I inspected the garden by myself. The African collection was at its best, with many species in full bloom and the Rock Garden adjacent to the main lake was a picture, in full spring bloom also. I met nursery staff and inspected the large nursery which produces plants for council reserves as well as the garden.

There are extensive native plantings, herbs and productive garden areas, roses (all organically grown with no sprays or chemicals), a Gondwanan Forest, Children’s Garden and many other collections. Innovations such as rain gardens are included and there is a fine Visitor Reception Building. The garden is well-maintained and staff I met were proud of their garden. An interesting feature for me was that no irrigation is needed as the high rainfall, year round, keeps the garden green! Only newly planted seedlings in display beds are hand watered in. Some congress delegates, mainly from Asian countries were undertaking a pre congress training session in Auckland Botanic Garden and I met them over lunch.

In Dunedin it was Rhododendron Day at the Botanic Garden and also the garden’s 150th birthday celebrations. Masny people were picnicking in the garden, enjoying the concert and family activities. The Dunedin Botanic Garden is a garden of international significance and is 28ha. It is considered New Zealand’s finest. There are magnificent specimen trees and many plant collections. As in other gardens, the Friends’ group plays an important role, staffing the visitor centre and undertaking other activities. The extensive Rock Garden was particularly impressive and very colourful and the four hectare Rhododendron Dell is stunning.

The following day I travelled to Wellington on the new Northern Explorer train, a very comfortable way of seeing a cross section of the North Island, including country not accessible by road. The rich green country, flowing rivers, forests and national parks with native vegetation and snow covered volcanoes were all highlights. I stayed overnight in Wellington with a friend I had trained with at the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide many years ago, and flew down to Dunedin on the Sunday morning over snow covered mountains and an impressive coastline with large rivers flowing into the sea. The impressive Dunedin City Hall. Photo credit: John Zwar


There are more than 3,000 rhododendrons, many being trees, planted in the 1800s, blended with cool temperate trees and shrubs, ferns and New Zealand natives. The rhododendrons were in full bloom, a sight to behold! The extensive New Zealand native gardens are being expanded and showed the flora of the country off to advantage. Some impressive Clianthus punecius, “Kaka Beak” closely related to our “Sturt Desert Pea” made an impact as did the many beautiful yellow flowering “Kowai” Trees, Sophora tetraptera. There are collections from China, Himalayas, South Africa, the Mediterranean and other regions, all attractively landscaped. Garden staff provided congress delegates with guided tours and in the evening the congress welcome reception was held in the garden, with fine local food and drinks. It was a great opportunity to meet some congress delegates. The congress proper commenced on the Monday morning at the impressive Dunedin Town Hall Conference Centre. After a very moving welcome from Huata Holmes, a Maori leader, BGCI officials spoke and the many plenary and concurrent sessions began, with an amazing range of speakers and fine presentations by people from botanic gardens and conservation projects all over the world. Many of the presenters were heads of famous botanic gardens and world leaders in their various fields and it was a wonderful opportunity to hear them and meet them during breaks. I was particularly interested to hear presentations from other arid zone botanic gardens and was most impressed by the Oman Botanic Garden under development with excellent presentations being given by Dr Annette Patzelt, Scientific Director and by Ian Oliver talking about the challenges and successes of developing this garden, which has some similarities to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden at Port Augusta.


Professor Kaiyun Guan, Director of the Turpan Eremophyte Botanic Garden gave a fascinating presentation on botanic garden development and conserving biodiversity in Chinese Central Asia, a region of cold deserts with temperatures of 50 degrees below zero in winter. Other presentations of botanic garden and conservation projects in arid areas of Mexico and Pakistan were also of special interest. Of course, there were many other excellent presentations on a wide and varied range of botanic garden related topics and there were important messages and much to learn in all of them. Some of the ethnobotany presentations were particularly interesting also. There were ample opportunities for networking with other delegates, and discussing points of interest. The conference dinner was most enjoyable with fine performances by local Japanese drumming, Maori and Pacific Island dance groups, the Dunedin City Pipe band reflecting the Scottish heritage of the city and contemporary music. The field trip included a visit to the Royal Albatross Colony (none there when our group visited) and Lanarch Castle with its magnificent and immaculately maintained gardens on Otago Peninsula, and an inspection of the Orokonui Eco sanctuary and the Aramoana Salt Marsh and Native Plant Arboretum. The weather was perfect, scenery stunning and cameras worked overtime. Two ladies from Tonga attended the congress as they are trying to establish Tonga’s first botanic garden. Their poster display featured their garden site and as a result of contacts made I am hopeful that they will receive help and support from well‑established gardens to assist them to develop their garden.

Two ladies from Tonga attended the congress as they are trying to establish Tonga’s first botanic garden. The congress was an amazing opportunity to meet more than 300 delegates from 45 countries and I enjoyed meeting people I had not seen for many years. It was magnificently organised with great venues, a very friendly atmosphere and plenty of time for networking. I consider it one of the highlights in my professional life and am most grateful to BGANZ for a small grant that assisted with expenses and to the City of Port Augusta and The Friends of The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden who also assisted with my congress expenses. My visit to New Zealand ended with a weekend staying with friends at Oamaru (former work colleagues from Roxby Downs) where I enjoyed seeing a most impressive collection of Victorian buildings in this small city and the magnificent Oamaru Public Gardens with beautiful displays of cool temperate zone plants and fine specimen trees. I visited two large commercial nurseries also, one entirely under glass, producing plants that we would grow in the open. My last day was spent driving to Christchurch via hydro schemes, dams and lakes, snow-capped Southern Alps and rich farming country in the lower areas. On arrival I had time for a hurried late evening visit to the Christchurch Botanic Garden which has some huge and impressive specimen trees and a fine, well maintained plant collection. I flew back to Australia early next morning with amazing views of the snow covered Southern Alps providing a fitting farewell to New Zealand after an amazing congress and a brief visit to this diverse and beautiful land.



Response to the 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress from FGBG (Australia) Dr Judith Trimble, President of Friends Geelong Botanic Garden Though it was my first Global Botanic Gardens Congress, I found it a resounding success. Its global reach of collected and shared knowledge was impressive, as was the camaraderie of the participants from many countries. Up to eight parallel sessions running each day meant some papers I wanted to see were missed, but the standard of all those I attended was excellent, and I eagerly await the website editions.

experience. And it was all backed up with the important networking and sharing of knowledge gathered by researchers across the world, and critically important institutions, such as International Plant Sentinel Network, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, International Plant Exchange Network, and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

The 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress organisational details were managed very smoothly. Accommodation in the Town Hall and technical support were excellent, and the catering very well received. Wednesday’s tour of the Otago Peninsula was both delightful and instructive, providing a landscape context for the Congress we all shared. Congratulations to everyone involved in this achievement.

Particularly interesting was the range of topics, from food security (taro), plant diversity, seed bank and database building to accommodating Bedouin sheepherders grazing through the new Botanic Garden in Jordan. It was very pleasing to see emphasis upon listening to indigenous peoples, learning from them, and helping them to realise their own visions of healthy ecosystems. It was particularly encouraging to see emphasis also upon regional plants, their rescue, conservation and use (mangroves). The scope of botanic garden building – from central west China with temperatures ranging from minus 50 degrees Celsius to +50 degrees Celsius, to the rescue of endangered trees in arid Oman, and efforts to gather and record unknown flora in the tropical West Papuan islands – was unexpected and fascinating. The outstanding impression I brought away with me was the participants’ extraordinary camaraderie and the supportive atmosphere of the whole congress. I have attended many conferences, national and international, as an academic in a different field, but this was the most constructive of my

Dunedin delegates spent a day exploring the local region



Botanic Gardens Reports 2013 National Award for Kings Park

The hidden side of Wollongong Botanic Gardens

Rebecca Maddern

Louise Turk, courtesy Illawarra Mercury

Kings Park has been awarded a prestigious 2013 Banksia Award for its achievements in environmental education.

This article first appeared

Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park and the associated Kings Park Education program were announced as the national winner of the competitive Education category on 9 October in Melbourne.

When Jack Woodgate, the first gardener appointed at the Wollongong Botanic Garden turned up to start work on the Keiraville land in the early 1960s, it was a sight to behold. It was overgrown with weeds, huge logs of felled trees had been left lying around, and old cars and other rubbish littered the area. As well as the mess, numerous snakes had made the site their home. “Where the lake is now, there was a bottleneck in the creek,” Mr Woodgate said in Dena Leighton’s 2004 book Wollongong Botanic Garden: a story of beauty and diversity. “I had to clear the bank along Murphy’s Avenue myself and trucks were brought in to get rid of the cars.”

Kings Park Education specialises in programs for primary Kings Park Education specialises school students. Photo credit: Kings Park in programs for primary school students that combine unstructured play in a natural bush setting with structured learning activities that encourage children to explore and challenge themselves. This unique approach attracted praise from the judges.

Mr Woodgate was on his own initially, clearing and preparing the site in readiness for planting. The concept was born when Sidney Hoskins, one of the managing directors of Australian Iron and Steel, donated 10.58 ha to Wollongong City Council in 1954 for a botanic garden. The first plantings on the azalea bank were installed in 1964, following design plans drawn up by Professor Peter Spooner of the University of NSW.

Naturescape is a world-first education facility providing new ways to educate young Western Australians about the state’s unique plant biodiversity and conservation. It covers 60,000 sqare metres and features a series of unique zones including hidden thickets, a creek, tree hides, a cubby building area, upside-down trees with climbing ropes and a wetland. These zones are connected by meandering paths, boardwalks and bridges which offer a sense of immersion in the bush. It has no plastic play equipment, has soft-fall matting, handrails on the bridges or bins, and limited signage.

Prof Spooner had designed a zonal system, with each area representing a part of the world. Plants were grouped according to their country of origin. After 12 months of Mr Woodgate working on his own, council employed a junior gardener to help him. A significant number of plantings took place. The work, directed and overseen by council’s director of parks and gardens Bill Mearns, included the construction of the lake. By 1968, the staff had increased to one leading hand and four junior gardeners.

The project arose out of growing community concerns that urban children are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world, a trend described by author Richard Louv as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’. Over 165,000 visitors have passed through the gates since the site opened in October 2011.

Ms Leighton writes in her book that by 1969, 4,000 trees and shrubs had been planted and a further 2,000 were being grown from seed in the nursery. But it was not until 26 September 1970 that the garden opened officially. In the first year more than 6,000 visitors came to the garden. The peak visiting time was in September when the azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons were in bloom.


The 27.41 hectare botanic garden now has more than 340,000 visitors each year and provides conservation, education, recreation and cultural opportunities with an impressive array of native and flowering plant life from around the world. Apart from a few remnant turpentine trees, the garden landscape has been constructed, including the spectacular rainforest garden with around 80 species of trees and 15 species of ferns. The botanic garden also maintains three natural annex gardens including Puckey’s Estate at Fairy Meadow, The Mount Keira Summit Park and Korrongulla Wetlands at Primbee. Wollongong Botanic Garden curator Paul Tracey said the primary role of the garden, as with botanic gardens around the world, was plant conservation. Botanic gardens were the last chance for many plant species facing extinction, and Wollongong was no exception. Mr Tracey said the garden was in partnership with the Australian National Botanic Garden to conserve the Zieria baeuerlenii (Bomaderry Zieria), a local species with less than 900 left in the wild. The Bomaderry Zieria was no longer producing viable seed in the wild and a propagation system had been developed to ensure its survival. He said cuttings had produced around 300 specimens held in the garden’s nursery for reintroduction to the garden and its native habitat. The garden also has local and exotic species listed as rare and threatened within its living collection, he said. Mr Tracey said globally there were many threats to natural plant populations including expanding urban development, mining, agriculture and natural disaster.


The Bomaderry Zieria was no longer producing viable seed in the wild and a propagation system had been developed to ensure its survival. “When natural habitat is adversely affected, botanic garden propagation programs, seed banks, and living collections are sometimes the only way certain plant species survive,” he said. Another component of the garden’s conservation focus, the Greenplan Program, was started in 1988 by then Wollongong Lord Mayor Frank Arkell. Initially it was a city-wide tree planting project, involving schools, industry, community groups and households. Each ratepayer was entitled to 20 free trees delivered by council staff. Ratepayers can now buy a wide range of ground covers, grasses, trees and shrubs indigenous to the Wollongong area, at a subsidised price.

More than three million plants have been distributed out of the Wollongong Botanic Garden Nursery in the past 25 years. “We focus the Greenplan Nursery on local Illawarra species, so we collect seed and cuttings from natural areas and the plants have provenance,” Mr Tracey said. “It’s a service that is focused on biodiversity improvement. More than three million plants have been distributed throughout the city through our public plant sales.”

The need for plant material increased in 1994 with the Bushcare program, joining the council and community to conserve and restore natural areas. The work is done by council, bush regenerators and volunteers. “Bushcare volunteers are active on 60 sites across Wollongong and the botanic garden produces around 25,000 local plant species each year,” Mr Tracey said. “We also have a long established schools donations policy in which we donate about 9,000 local plants a year to schools each year for their biodiversity projects.” In Ms Leighton’s book, Bill Mearns, who was also the garden’s first curator, described why Wollongong should have a botanic garden. “A garden provides the ideal place for passive leisure,” he said. “It is good for the soul.” While thousands of people still visit the garden purely for the purpose of relaxing in an atmosphere of peace and quiet, it attracts a growing number of visitors for many reasons. Mr Tracey said the on-site discovery centre provided environmental educational services and programs to 20,000 people each year. “We run programs on horticulture and sustainability with a particular focus on landfill waste avoidance, so the importance of composting, produce gardening and recycling are really strong messages for us,” he said. In the past 12 months, the council has also introduced two popular programs that have increased visitors to its Keiraville and Fairy Meadow sites. Last May, the Step Back in Time at Gleniffer Brae tours were held in which actors explained the history of the site by playing the roles of the property’s original owners, Mr and Mrs Hoskins, and acclaimed landscape artist


Paul Sorensen. Recently, The Ghost of Courtney Puckey Tour was staged at Puckey’s Estate which used to be the home of the eccentric salt maker, who lived there during the early part of the twentieth century. In addition, visitors participate in nocturnal walks and guided garden walks which focus on the native flora through the botanic garden, he said. “In terms of recreation, we went through a survey in 2011 and we know that the majority of visitors come here to just enjoy the facilities,” Mr Tracey said, “We’ve been working harder in the past five years with a new duck pond viewing area, and all‑abilities playground which is really popular, barbecues and the introduction of a coffee cart.” “Like botanic gardens worldwide we have all come to the realisation that we have to be about more than just plants. Visitor needs are changing and they are expecting more in their visits and we are responding to that while not reducing our focus on plant conservation.” The botanic garden’s visitation figures have grown from 250,000 in 2010 to more than 340,000 in the last financial year.

In terms of recreation, we went through a survey in 2011 and we know that the majority of visitors come here to just enjoy the facilities. “That’s primarily due to the new facilities and the new events we are bringing to the garden and better promotion of what we do,” he said.


Mr Tracey said the botanic garden website was kept current, social media was being used to disseminate information in the community, and a new magazine had just been produced. A program of popular activities including the Our Backyard Festival, Sunset Cinema and outdoor theatre productions had drawn large numbers. This year the botanic garden will also be the venue for the City of Wollongong Christmas Carols. An important date in the history of the botanic garden was 25 March 1981 – the first meeting of the Friends of the Wollongong Botanic Garden. “They provide a lot of support in terms of research and have a propagation group. They produce plants sold in the Greenplan Nursery,” Mr Tracey said, “They foster an interest in the activities and development of the botanic garden and they advocate education and participation in the garden.” The botanic staff also maintains the historic Gleniffer Brae Manor House Sorensen Garden, designed by the late Danish‑born landscape architect, which features his distinctive dry stone walls and gardens designed on terraces. The council‑owned manor house and surrounding gardens were in excellent condition for their age and were a prominent feature of the site, he said. Mr Tracey, who was born and bred in Wollongong, began his curator role at the Wollongong Botanic Garden in 2010. Previously he worked in Sydney as Centennial Park’s horticulture estate manager and manager of visitor programs for Centennial Parklands.

The best part of his job, he says, is working with a wonderful team of experienced and skilled horticulturists. “When this opportunity came up, I had eyed this job off for a long time being a local, and with a young family and with it being close to home, it was too good an opportunity to refuse,” he said. The best part of his job, he says, is working with a wonderful team of experienced and skilled horticulturists. What he loves about the garden?” I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done on the Drylands Garden and the Towri Bush Tucker Garden,” he says. “I think that’s going to be a pretty significant collection in years to come.” Staff are currently working on the creation of an exotic palm collection which will see the transformation a former 6000-square-metre operational area into public open space. Mr Tracey is hoping the palm collection will be launched when the Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand Congress is hosted in Wollongong in October 2015. He says some of the significant future issues for the botanic garden will be replacing critical infrastructure such as the paths which were constructed more than 40 years ago.


Bundaberg Botanic Gardens Timothy Rich, Group Supervisor Gardens, Bundaberg Regional Council Bundaberg Botanic Gardens were hit hard by floods in January 2013. Here is an update of our recovery to date: • Lake and waterway restoration has been undertaken. The gardens have received invaluable assistance in replanting these areas from a NEATO Labour Market and training program providing extra labour for this re-establishment project. • After the cleanup from the floods three large colonies of flying foxes began roosting in the garden’s Rainforest area. Eventually they moved on and a cleanup was undertaken. The understory areas are in the process of being replanted. • Commencement of cataloguing species in the gardens is well underway. • A herbarium is in its early stages of development with a focus on specimens from Wallum plant communities in some of Bundaberg’s Regional Reserves. • We are currently installing a new modern water blade feature in our Fig Tree Chapel area. This more contemporary addition is being augmented with a fresh approach to repainting in this popular precinct of the Garden. • We have an ongoing rotation of BRC Horticulture trainees from Council’s Parks section enhancing their skills by contributing to maintenance activities in the botanic garden. • Within the next six months we will be replacing light bollards with up lights in the Café 1928 and Fig Tree Chapel area. • Street lighting will be replaced with power efficient L.E.D lights on new stainless steel posts in the main car park area.


Conservation on a remote island: The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens conserving the critically endangered Macquarie Island cushion plant Lorraine Perrins, Curator Conservation Collections and Sub Antarctic Flora Macquarie Island is like nowhere else on earth. Quite apart from the myriad of oceanic birds and mammals that congregate to breed in phenomenal numbers, the origin of the island itself is unique. It is a very rare example of recently uplifted oceanic crust formed around 11 million years ago and is the only place where the earth’s mantle is being exposed above sea level. Sir Douglas Mawson, the Australian polar explorer, was well aware of the importance of Macquarie Island and championed a large public movement, successfully petitioning the Tasmanian government to close a large penguin oil processing facility on the island in 1920. This action is widely considered to have been the world’s first wildlife conservation movement. The entire island has been managed as a nature reserve since 1970 and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997 on the basis of its “outstanding natural universal values”. Protecting an area does not guarantee the safety of all its inhabitants, however, and in December 2008 a dying back of the Macquarie Island cushion plant, Azorella macquariensis, was noticed by Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) staff. A. macquariensis is one of only four plants endemic to Macquarie Island and is considered to be the keystone species of the feldmark, a plant community on the sparse plateau uplands, which covers 45% of the island.

A macquariensis dieback. Photo credit: A Terauds

Since the dieback was first noted A. macquariensis has undergone a catastrophic decline. This is now evident across the plant’s entire range and it is anticipated that the species could become extinct in the wild within a few short years.


Although there is still much research to be done, it appears that the cause of the dieback may be multifactorial and will not be resolved in the short term. Research into the dieback has involved scientists from Universities in South Africa and Canberra, as well as the Australian Antarctic Division, the Biodiversity Conservation Branch of DPIPWE, and staff from Parks and Wildlife Service and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG).


island. This collection will also serve as a seed orchard, where individual plants may be cross-pollinated to hopefully enhance seed-set and broaden the genetic make-up of the seed collected.

Despite the fact that all the environmental conditions can be met with an on-island, living collection, it still remains a costly exercise. The logistics of transporting equipment and resources down to Macquarie Island are complex and extremely expensive. However it appears the best option in buying time to understand fully the factors causing the Azorella dieback and insuring that this species is conserved for the future.

Cultivating A. macquariensis is not easy. Creating the specialised environmental conditions to maintain this species is difficult and expensive. Therefore the decision was made to develop a potted conservation collection on Macquarie Island itself, isolated from the infected wild population. In March 2010 Michelle Lang, (then RTBG Nursery Supervisor), travelled to Macquarie Island to set up a trial potted conservation collection. All nine plants settled well into their high rise lifestyle (see image). The plants were potted into 800mm long plastic pipes to provide perfect drainage, as well as protection from rabbits and potential soil pathogens. All plants were provided with an automated watering system operated by a rain sensor.

A.macquariensis potted collection April 2013. Photo credit: C. Howard

Successive Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service Island Rangers have provided a visual link via monthly photographs sent to RTBG horticulturists for the monitoring and assessment these “captive specimens” from afar. Over two years later, the plants are still growing well and the trial has been considered a successful way of maintaining a protected collection of this species. In the next few months the RTBG will expand this trial to develop an ex-situ conservation collection, increasing it to 54 individual plants collected from a broad diversity across the

The logistics of transporting equipment and resources down to Macquarie Island are complex and extremely expensive.

The RTBG has been very fortunate in receiving two grants to fund the development of the on-island conservation collection and seed orchard and would like to acknowledge the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, (, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife ( as well as a number of generous individual donors for their invaluable support.

If you would like to know more about this project, please go to A.macquariensis potted collection April 2013. Photo credit: M.Lang



The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden (AALBG), Port Augusta Inc. Chris Nayda, Secretary, FAALBG Following an unusually wet winter the spring flowering in the Great Victoria Desert Courtyard has been really stunning with poached egg daisies, paper daisies, Sturt Desert Pea, Ptilotus, Eremophila, Hakea and Crotalaria flowering.

Our volunteer Garden Guides have had many tours in the last two months with some groups of over 30 people. As plantings in our garden are maturing, visitors have a very good introduction to the flora of the southern arid zone of Australia, the region our garden represents. The Friends group has assisted the City Council which operates the AALBG with the cost of a large solar power installation which will substantially reduce the electricity costs of running the Garden’s Visitor Reception Centre. Two Friends Ruth Sheldon and Chris Nayda went to Nepabunna (east of Copley in the Northern Flinders Ranges) to help the local Adnyamathanha people to propagate and grow seedlings of local vegetation. They were very warmly received and given a lovely lunch and many seedlings were potted up and cuttings put in pots. They helped with pruning plantings around the town as well and have been invited back next year.

Sturt Desert Pea, Ptilotus, Eremophila, Hakea and Crotalaria flowering

The Friends have been having a busy bee every Wednesday removing weed growth resulting from winter rains, pruning and maintaining the garden, with garden staff helping out with tractors, trailers and providing morning tea. The entire Eremophila Garden has been pruned, weeded, tidied up and now looks cared for. The extension of this garden will commence in late October making it one of the largest plantings of Eremophilas in Australia. Landscaping in the car park area has also been tidied up and pruned where needed by Friends.

The plants propagated will then be planted at Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area in the Northern Flinders Ranges, approximately one hour southwest of Arkaroola. Nantawarrina is being developed as a tourist venture. For more information is well worth looking at. Ruth and Chris then conducted a field trip to Arkaroola. They collected seeds and cuttings for the AALBG and were given some Acacia araneosa (Spider Wattle), unique to Arkaroola and grown from seed there, to plant at the AALBG.

Ruth with the Rangers at Nepabunna Aboriginal Community

Friends have also assisted with selling plants produced at the AALBG Nursery at a regional Field Day in the Riverland, and elsewhere, and staff and volunteers participated in a grafting workshop so that they may commence growing various forms of Desert Lime, Citrus glauca, on specific Citrus grafting stock in the nursery to be utilised in the garden. Recently, despite heat and a fly plague, a very successful Spring Gardening Expo was held at the AALBG, attracting many hundreds of visitors. Guest Dean Nicolle launched his book Native Eucalypts of South Australia. John Zwar and Dean Nicolle presented talks and many and varied questions on native plants and the garden in general were answered. Plant propagating and pruning demonstrations were offered and there was a range of displays including Birds of the Garden, and various children’s activities.


Guided tours featuring the Rare Plants area of the garden were offered and brisk sales of plant and gifts in the garden’s Arid Smart Garden Centre were very popular along with refreshments from the Bluebush Cafe. Treated effluent from the Visitor Reception Building is used to irrigate the extended Eremophila Garden and plans are in hand to progressively convert the entire garden’s irrigation system over to using treated effluent from Port Augusta to reduce the usage of potable water which is piped hundreds of kilometres from the River Murray. An interesting PhD research project is underway at the AALBG. It is being undertaken by Ellen Curtis of the University of Technology, Sydney. She is investigating the heat tolerance of leaves of arid zone plants. A Friend volunteer, Ronda Hall, has been her able and diligent assistant throughout the entire research project.


Our Friends group and the AALBG’s management have developed an excellent and complementary working relationship. The AALBG operates on a low budget funded through the Port Augusta City Council rates, hence the Friends play an important role in assisting paid staff with propagating in the nursery and with garden maintenance; with providing guided tours and educational sessions for students; and helping in many other ways; filling the gaps with the tasks for which the small team of paid employees do not have time. The Friends of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden offer an open invitation to anyone visiting Port Augusta, or passing through, to pause and visit our garden which has features of interest in all seasons.

Jacky Kelt Gee Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes! Our March to September rainfall equals the total of rainfall we received for the month of January (there is only 2mm difference). Wouldn’t it be nice to put our specific order in? We’ve been very friendly to the wildlife this year:

Sunshine Coast orange bracteantha. Photo credit: Sunshine Coast

• In April six nesting boxes suitable for squirrel gliders were installed. The project was a combined effort from the Cooroora Woodworking Group, FNBG (Friends of Noosa Botanic Gardens), and Sunshine Tree Surgery and council staff from NBG. Time and materials were donated. Plans for parrot nesting boxes are underway.

Our Friends Group and the AALBG’s management have developed an excellent and complementary working relationship. On 27 October a new book by author Neville Bonney, Jewel of the Australian Desert, Native Peach (Quandong) was launched at the garden. This is likely to be very popular with plant lovers of arid zone native plants and also in inland Australia where this iconic and prized native fruit grows.

Noosa Botanic Gardens

Visitors in the AALBG Garden Centre purchasing plants at the recent Arid Smart

• Last month we were fortunate to acquire a native bee hive. A failed tree from Boreen Point had to be removed and on closer inspection we discovered the hive. The colony was relocated to the Noosa Botanic Gardens and so far they have settled in nicely a great effort from the arborist section of the Sunshine Coast Council. The native bees are stingless and are very important in the pollination of our native plant species. Their hives are under a lot of threat with land clearing and tree removal.



• Native perfume and butterfly attracting plants have also been replanted from last January storms.

$1.25 million to science and children

• More rock retaining wall construction is underway.

Katie O’Brien, Marketing Coordinator (PR) Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

• The spring flowering annuals put on a lovely display. We used petunias in the shades of blue this year around the Bridal Walk. Very peaceful. • FNBG have been making great headway with the Plant Data Base, with nearly half the gardens plants recorded. They are also working on a Propagation Plan; with the concept being to stock the gardens, also to set up trade between collectors, nurseries and other botanic gardens and to increase the knowledge of the FNBG members. • FNBG are currently working on an Environmental Weed Project. Aims are to educate people on how to identify, remove, manage and replace weed species. Events:

Sunshine Coast relocating native bee hive. Photo credit: Sunshine Coast

We’ve also been very productive with a great many projects underway and completed: • FNBG have started the planting of the fern glade. It will consist of native, indigenous and exotic fern species. • The Proteaceae collection has been replanted after the storms from last year.

• The ninth Noosa Water Festival was held at the Noosa Botanic Gardens in June. It was very successful with reports of positive feedback and good attendance. Next year the tenth Festival will be a mini milestone. • The opera performance by Operatif was held last month on the first day of spring. It also had positive feedback with good attendance. • We held the Great Noosa Trail Walk, starting at Cooroy on 5 October and ending in Kin on the 7 October. Walkers visited numerous locations along the way, including the Noosa Botanic Gardens. Happy gardening everyone!

This week Professor Tim Entwisle celebrated six months in the job as Director and Chief Executive of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens with a significant funding boost of $1.25 million to the Gardens’ science program and to its much loved Children’s Garden. Of the new funds, almost one million dollars was raised by the gardens through private donations to the Pauline Ladiges Plant Systematics Research Fellowship, a joint endowment funded by the Royal Botanic Gardens Foundation and The University of Melbourne’s School of Botany Foundation who will match the funds raised by the Royal Botanic Gardens. The inaugural Fellow, Dr Tanja Schuster, will strengthen the Royal Botanic Gardens’ plant science and biodiversity team, tackling what is often called the ”taxonomic impediment”’. As evidenced by the recent discovery of a new genus and family of algae (named Entwisleia after Prof. Entwisle), there are huge gaps in our knowledge of the Australian flora and fauna. “By employing more taxonomists such as Dr Schuster, we can not only make startling discoveries about our natural world but also deliver to the government and community groups the information they need to manage our environment in a time of accelerated climate change.” Prof. Entwisle said. A further $265,000 has been generously donated by The Ian Potter Foundation for an expansion of the ever-popular Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden in time for its tenth anniversary in 2014. The Children’s Garden has just recorded its best yearly attendance ever with more than 248,000 visitors up to June 2013.



“The record numbers were helped by the flowering of the rare Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) at Christmas, drawing more than 20,000 eager visitors to the gardens and many thousands more to our social media sites. The opening of the final stage of the Australian Garden in October 2012 was also a big draw card, with numbers for Cranbourne Gardens up by 35 per cent from last year.”

Professor Tim Entwisle celebrated six months in the job as Director and Chief Executive of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: RBG Melbourne

Prof. Entwisle joined the Gardens in March 2013, part way through a record-breaking attendance year for the entire Royal Botanic Gardens, with more than two million people visiting both sites.

A record-breaking attendance year for the entire Royal Botanic Gardens, with more than 2 million people visiting both sites.

“The first six months have been an exciting time for me, ramping up our public profile and starting a conversation with Melbourne about what they expect from their botanic garden”, Prof. Entwisle said. “To have the ringing endorsement of more visitors than ever and now this extremely generous support from donors and The Ian Potter Foundation, it’s clear we are already doing something right”. As a taste of things to come, the last six months have also seen the installation of photovoltaic cells on seven of the buildings at Melbourne Gardens to offset the running of the gardens’ water recycling program, 80 commemorative labels on trees planted by significant public figures over the last 166 years, and preparations for punting to start on the Ornamental Lake in late spring. The next six months promises even more with a major upgrade of Fern Gully in the Melbourne Gardens, a new music event in early October and, by year’s end, a new vision for the Royal Botanic Gardens to set it up for the next two decades. “You can be sure science and children will be part of that vision!” Prof. Entwisle said.

Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens Inc - supporting and celebrating success Annie McGeachy, Hon. Secretary, AFBG What is “success”? In 2013, AFBG celebrates its 20th year of connecting, informing and promoting botanic gardens. For the association, “success” is the increasing interest in membership, the development of new Friends groups and overseas affiliates, the vibrancy of the network, and the generosity of spirit between members. All of these are reflected in our bi-annual newsletters and biennial conferences. Our connection with BGANZ, particularly in regional groups’ activities, has grown and shown to be mutually beneficial. This is recognized through the recently adopted “Memorandum of Understanding” at the national level, which acknowledges mutual aims and cooperation between Friends groups and Gardens management. AFBG is very pleased to share this “success” with BGANZ. For Friends of Botanic Gardens, “success” comes in many forms, and rarely easily, but throughout our membership of 57 Friends groups, the successes are huge, and the innovation and long-term commitment in pursuit of these successes is inspiring. It may be developing a new event, a completed rockery, a conserved structure, a major grant, a raised profile bringing new members or visitors to the garden, completion of a major project, a new curator, the pleasure of seeing a thriving garden, or complimentary letters following a children’s program, a music event, a particular guided walk, an exhibition, the start of a new botanic garden or just being recognized as valuable. Whatever the successes, for Friends it is always ‘about the Garden’.



Calendar of Conferences and Events International Horticulture Congress BGANZ & PLA Seminar Thursday 28 November 2013 Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

17-22 August 2014, Brisbane The “Olympics” of horticultural science

BGANZ 7th Conference BGANZQ Conference Cairns 2-4 October 2014

27-30 October 2015 Wollongong Botanic Gardens, NSW

BGANZ NSW Conference

6th BGCI Conference Geneva 2016

Dubbo 2014 (dates tbc)

BGCI Education Conference Missouri USA 2015

Botanic Garden December 2013  

All the Botanic Gardens Australian and New Zealand reports and all the news from the BGANZ/BGCI Congress held in Dunedin

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