THE BOTANIC GARDENer WINTER 2021 - Botanic gardens – Plant science in botanic gardens

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THE BOTANIC GARDENer The magazine for botanic garden professionals

Theme: Plant Science – Research in Botanic Gardens ISSN 1446-2044 |


56 WINTER 2021

Editorial Committee REBECCA HARCOURT Managing Editor DALE ARVIDSSON Curator, Brisbane Botanic Gardens ALAN MATCHETT Botanic Garden Manager, Dunedin Botanic Garden TOM McCARTER Wildlife Garden Manager, The Natural History Museum, London JANET O’HEHIR Vice-President, Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Trust Inc. EAMONN FLANAGAN Chief Executive Officer, BGANZ SIOBHAN DUFFY Graphic Designer

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: A living roof planted with a variety of succulents in the Potter Children’s Garden at Auckland Botanic Gardens. Photo: Auckland Botanic Gardens.

CONTENTS 2 President’s view Chris Russell, BGANZ President

4 Editorial insights Rebecca Harcourt, Managing Editor

Feature Interview 6 A biologist who became infected with a passion for plants: Emma Bodley, Chair of BCARM and Botanical Records & Conservation Specialist, Auckland Botanic Gardens

What’s New? 13 Botanic news: from home and abroad

Pollinating Great Ideas 18 World Poetry Day at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens Roana O’Neill, Co-ordinator Communication & Engagement, Bundaberg Regional Council

Feature Articles 20 Conserving alpine habitats and species: challenges, collections and collaboration Megan J. Hirst, Victorian Conservation Seedbank, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

26 Plant Collection Guidelines: where do I start? Emma Bodley, Chair of BCARM and Botanical Records & Conservation Specialist, Auckland Botanic Gardens

Feature Gardens 32 Rockhampton Botanic Gardens – open for business science Michael Elgey, Curator of Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and Kershaw Gardens, and BGANZ Queensland Council member

39 Inala Jurassic Garden: a global collection of Gondwanan flora on south Bruny Island, Tasmania Dr Tonia Cochran, Owner, Curator and Collection Manager, Inala Jurassic Garden, South Bruny, Tasmania THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 56 WINTER 2021

Book Reviews 48 Miracle on Black Mountain – A History of the Australian National Botanic Gardens by Don Beer Neville Page, President, Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens

50 Plants of Subtropical Eastern Australia by Andrew Benwell and Australian Rainforest Seeds by Mark Dunphy, Steve McAlpin, Paul Nelson and Michelle Chapman phill Parsons, President, The Tasmanian Arboretum Inc.

51 A review of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens children’s activity trail and booklet Michelle Pacey, mother, teacher and Education Officer at Bundaberg Regional Galleries

Professional Networks 52 Regional botanic gardens records management system – welcoming Botanical Software Tex (Terence) Moon, Ranger Team Leader, Dandenong Ranges Gardens

55 Biosecurity 101 for botanic gardens David Gale, Plant Health Australia

60 Mapping the plant world one snap at a time Sam Moon, Marketing and Communications Manager, BGANZ

Milestones 62 175 years of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Tanya Hendy, Communications and Media Coordinator, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

66 A retrospective − 20 years at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra Dave Taylor, recently retired Curator, Living Collection, Australian National Botanic Gardens

68 Calendar of conferences and events


The theme of the next issue of The BOTANIC GARDENer is Collections, Curation, Collaboration – the living heart of botanic gardens. The deadline for contributions is Monday 11 October 2021. Please contact the Managing Editor at if you are intending to submit an article or have a contribution to other sections.


President’s view Chris Russell, BGANZ President

Plant science: research in botanic gardens We all know that botanic gardens come in different shapes and

Chris Russell

sizes. Diversity is one of the lovely things about our organisation, with garden membership ranging from the larger capital city gardens to leaner affairs flourishing through the efforts of volunteers, sometimes without any paid employees whatsoever. My view is that we are all involved in plant science in some way, even if it is just through the display of scientific names on plant labels or understanding and documenting the curatorial treatment that brings the best (and worst!) out of our living collections. This issue of Botanic Gardener showcases the fundamental importance of science (in all its shades) in underpinning our critical efforts in plant conservation. In the more ‘hard core’ plant research category, our congratulations go to Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Sydney with the recent launch of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, bringing together the living collections, scientific collections and plant research and education elements under the one banner for increased impact on global biodiversity conservation. It is a very exciting development. For the less academic, I hope you enjoyed, or even participated in, the sharing of the ‘power of plants’ stories throughout May by joining the #plantchallenge. More details on this and Botanic Gardens Day activities in the next edition, including our live panel discussion hosted by the ever-generous Costa Georgiadis. Great progress has been made on the procurement of a plant record management system for BGANZ members with the tender process now completed and an anticipated launch (drum roll!) in July. If you are new to this story, we conducted a survey of our members in 2019 which showed a high level of dissatisfaction with current plant records systems, and strong support for BGANZ to take a lead role in facilitating the roll out of an affordable, user-friendly system that would meet the needs of gardens large and small and allow better sharing of information about our collections. We have selected a new product called Hortis developed by the experienced team at Botanical Software. This cloud-based system is fully compatible with mobile devices and tablets so that it can be used in the field as well as back in the office, and a recent demonstration to the BGANZ Council showed a layered and intuitive setup that I think will be attractive to users. BGANZ has negotiated for any Member Garden in the network to receive the program under special terms. Any garden joining in the first year gets the second year absolutely free. This project was established by Tex Moon and the BGANZ Victoria team. Victorian gardens are being supported by a grant under the State government’s Growing Victoria’s Botanic Gardens program. Victorian gardens get two years free subscription. A huge shout out to the team led



by Tex Moon for all the work in developing system specifications followed by an exhaustive tender evaluation process to get a system that I am confident will be transformative for many of our gardens. Earlier this year we partnered with the plant identification app PlantSnap, along with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and the American Public Gardens Association (APGA), on a global citizen science initiative aimed at creating the world’s largest open-source database of geolocated plants. Downloading the app and photographing plants in your garden or in the wild will contribute to providing information on plant distribution, track flowering times over the years in a changing climate while providing a financial contribution to BGANZ for the funding of plant conservation projects. If your garden joins the initiative, you can access data on where visitors spend time and which plants are most popular. You will also receive demographic information collected through the app as well as access to plant photos taken in your garden. It’s a great new initiative and I really encourage you to get involved. For more information see our website On a more sombre note I close with words of praise, admiration and farewell (but not goodbye!) for a couple of wonderful contributors to BGANZ — Julia Watson and Bec Stanley. Both are departing Auckland Botanic Gardens but, thankfully for the planet, are staying in the worlds of plants and people in new roles with Auckland Council. Bec was BGANZ NZ Chair and contributed to many BGANZ initiatives over the years, and Julia led BGEN through a period of growth and was a wonderful support on the BGANZ Council. We wish them both the very best for the future. Stay well in nature.

Alive with celebration Fifty years and growing Be captivated by Australian plants, flowers and landscapes from the Rainforest to the Red Centre. Visit the new Banksia Garden to discover the diversity of iconic Australian Banksia.

Photo: Steve Rogers



Editorial insights Rebecca Harcourt, Managing Editor

“Delightful scientific shade, for knowledge as for pleasure made”. This verse was quoted at the Auckland Botanic Gardens’ official opening in 1982.1 I think it is a perfect way to start an issue with

Rebecca Harcourt

the theme ‘Plant science: research in botanic gardens.’ Botanic gardens have evolved from the pleasure gardens of a wealthy few to over 3,000 institutions worldwide, with millions of visitors each year.2 In my view, they all contribute to research in the plant sciences, whether it is through raising public awareness of and enthusiasm for plants in general, to ex situ seed conservation, or investigating climate change responses. In this issue, I chat with Emma Bodley about the research she oversees at Auckland Botanic Gardens. This includes how plants can be useful for various sustainability purposes, such as green, or living, roofs that act as a trap for rain. The cover image of this issue shows that these can be both attractive and practical. Emma also talks about how the garden is preparing for the effects of climate change on both its own plants and those of Auckland in general. As well as a Botanical Records & Conservation Specialist at the gardens, Emma is the Chair of BCARM. In one of our feature articles, Emma interviews her colleagues to find out how they developed their plant collection guidelines, and how useful they are in helping to structure and drive the content of individual plant collections. In another feature article, Megan Hirst from the Victorian Conservation Seedbank at The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria discusses the issues facing our fragile and beautiful alpine environments. These areas are especially important due to their role in our river systems. Megan and her colleagues are using ex situ seed conservation as a strategy to support the survival of these vulnerable alpine communities in the wild. We had two feature garden articles submitted this issue, from Michael Elgey, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and Dr Tonia Cochran, Inala Jurassic Garden, Tasmania. We decided to include both as they showcase two quite different and unique gardens that share a common goal – to collaborate with other BGANZ members. Sadly, there is no Hort. section this issue as the section editor, Ariana Potamianakis, has had an injury at work. Hopefully, she will be back on deck next issue. From all of us here at the Botanic Gardener, get well soon Ariana! 1 2 4


Finally, I’d like to share a mildly relevant cartoon I recently found that made me laugh. I hope it has the same affect on you, especially those in Victoria who are going into lockdown yet again as I write this. We’re all rooting for you (pun intended). I’d love to hear from you with any feedback on this issue or suggestions for future themes. Please feel free to email me at

‘Turnip ‘n Tuck.’ From Reprinted with permission.




A biologist who became infected with a passion for plants Rebecca Harcourt interviews Emma Bodley, Botanical Records & Conservation Specialist at Auckland Botanic Gardens and Convenor of BCARM (BGANZ Collections and Records Management)

A lot of the research in which Emma is involved is translated into practical advice for home gardeners. I recently caught up with Emma to find out more about herself and the research projects she oversees at Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Emma Bodley

Have you always been interested in plants? How did your career path lead you to the Auckland Botanic Gardens? I’ve always been interested in nature. I was one of those kids who went to the zoo with a clipboard and drew what I saw. I studied biology at university and just naturally fell into conservation-related projects. I did a master degree on native orchids and their pollination. My current job is the first job I got when I left uni and I’m still here seven-and-a-half years later. I guess I landed my dream job! What is your current job and what drives you? I started my role as Botanical Records & Conservation Officer when I started at the gardens. I manage our plant records database, creating accessions, updating records and verifying names. I also make the tags and labels that our visitors see in the garden. I oversee all research at the gardens, which includes planning plant trials, data analysis and report writing, facilitating external researchers to use the gardens or the plant material in our collection and working with external scientists on research projects that align with our goals. I also carry out any conservation projects, both native and non-native. This could be anything from collecting



material in the wild, seed collecting from our seed orchards, working with community groups on threatened plant projects, and advocating for the plight of threatened plants through education of visitors and students. We’re quite a small garden with only 30 staff or so, and I’m the only one with a science role. I get my passion and drive from the people I work with. The community of botanic gardens is pretty infectious! I’ve always had a love for nature but learning from other people really fuelled my interest in plants – people like my previous boss Bec Stanley, who is a native plant person in New Zealand, and some of my Australian colleagues like Greg Bourke.

You were recently nominated as the convenor of BCARM. Why did you take on this role and what does it involve? I help facilitate meetings and workshops on topics involving plant collections and records. I joined the group because I’ve had a lot of experience with plant databases. I travelled to the USA in 2016 to visit other

Epilobium hirtigerum, known as the ‘Hobsonville kakapo’, is just as threatened as the kakapo bird, but doesn’t get the level of funding or the high profile that the charismatic birds attract. It is one of the key threatened species, displayed in the Threatened Native Plant Garden, which has been seed banked.

botanic gardens and to learn how they work with their plant records. I wanted to share my experiences and offer support to other BGANZ members. I love working with the group of passionate people in BCARM. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I’ve been involved in the Regional Database Project which has used my knowledge and skills, and I’ve met lots of new botanic gardens staff that I like to think of as my colleagues. They are often people I brainstorm with or ask for advice. It’s really useful to gain a different perspective, from outside my own garden.

Our theme for this issue is ‘plant science − research in botanic gardens’ – what role do you think botanic gardens have in this area? What type of research are you involved in? There’s so much that we can be involved with in terms of climate change, in futureproofing what people are growing. For example, in the gardens our motto is ‘where ideas grow’. Everything that we grow in our collection are plants that we’ve recommended to the public that would do well in Auckland. Those plants go through a trial system to test that they would survive our conditions. We do that through a formal trial process for anywhere between three and five years, we collect the data and then write it into a report that we publish, and then those plants from the trial that rate well in our rating system go into the main collections. We also get advice from local experts that have been growing these plants for a long time, sometimes 30 years. Considering climate change in these recommendations is really interesting − we need to be aware that the plants we’re currently recommending must remain suitable over the next 20, 30 or 40 years. As we don’t have the expertise here, we use the BGANZ network to talk to people like Peter Symes at RBGV Melbourne. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 56 WINTER 2021


FEATURE INTERVIEW They’ve got some climate-based models that we can draw on to see if there’s some similarities with what they’ve seen happen in Melbourne, and whether those could act like analogues for what might happen in New Zealand. We expect to get more droughts and when we do get rain it is predicted to be more intense. The droughts that Melbourne suffers are useful for us to learn from. There’s also a lot of research that gardens can do in the sustainability space around our own gardening practices, and how plants can be useful for various sustainability purposes. For example, we research plants that do well on green roofs. A green roof or a living roof is a structure that has a very small amount of substrate on which you can grow plants. It might be on the top of a building, on a letter box, or on a carport, for example. Generally, the structure is built to have plants growing on it. It’s pretty difficult to retrofit. A green roof is a way to capture rainfall as well as helping to cool its environment. If every building in a big city had a green roof, the summer temperature would drop because of two things. First, the green surfaces absorb less heat from the sun. Secondly, the plants also cool the air by evaporating water. A green roof also helps with capturing the water and slowing it down as opposed to it just falling onto the road and into the stormwater. It also filters out some of the nasties in the water. A lot of green roofs have chains and different mechanisms where the water will slowly fall down the building and then into the stormwater. A lot of the research that comes out about green roofs is northern-hemisphere based, and a lot of those plant recommendations are weeds in New Zealand, so we’re doing our own work trialling native and exotic plants. We’re also trialling plants that might be useful in swales, in filtering water, and in rain gardens. In our native roof, we’re trialling plants that are in similar conditions in the wild to those on a green roof, and they tend to be coastal plants, so some grasses and some ground covers – plants that tolerate quick inundation and then lots of drying out. We’ve got a small list that we’re working on and will publish. In terms of exotic plants, they’re quite tricky and a lot of succulents tend to be a little bit weedy here, so we’ve been trying plants like bromeliads, ornamental garlic, some south African bulbs, irises and the ice plants, Mesembryanthemum and Lampranthus.


In the Potter Children’s Garden is a living roof planted with a variety of succulents such as Echeveria species, Lampranthus, and Mesembryanthemum and bulbs such as Ornithogalum dubium. A colony of a native orchid (Microtis unifolia) has arrived on its own to live on this roof.


Another great space for botanic gardens research is in bridging the biosecurity world with the gardening/horticultural world. A lot of botanic gardens are part of local councils or governments, and they tend to have weed policies. Auckland Council has banned the sale of agapanthus, which is a really popular plant and very common for stabilising banks, for example. But they get into native and wild areas very easily. New Zealand has a perfect climate for most weeds – we’re a bit like Hawaii! Unfortunately Auckland is a hot spot for weeds. So, in 2012 we initiated a project where we worked with Council biosecurity and the nursery industry to see if we could find a sterile form of agapanthus that we could recommend to the public to bridge that gap. We wanted to be able to say, yes, there are ‘bad’ agapanthus, but here are some that you can grow and sell and still support the nursery industry. We’ve been counting seed and looking at seed viability of different cultivars. We’ve now got a list of seven that have no or almost no fertility. We are also looking at the attractiveness of these seven to the public in terms of having nice flowers, as well as their horticultural merit and stabilising ability. It’s a really good model for partnerships and working with different industries on finding a common ground. We’re also looking at sustainable approaches to gardening. We haven’t used chemicals on our plants for about 21 years. We trialled stopping at a time when we were growing the national collection of roses in New Zealand. Those roses were being heavily sprayed, including all the ones new to the market. We decided that spraying them wasn’t sustainable for the environment, as it was potentially affecting the soil community, among other issues. We used to spray on a fine, calm day when we probably had most of our visitors, so it was also not good for visitor or staff health. And it was expensive! So, we stopped spraying, which was quite controversial at the time. Perhaps surprisingly, the roses were fine without spray. We haven’t used any chemicals in the gardens since then. We continually monitor and evaluate our plants for their performance in terms of pests and diseases. We don’t keep anything that gets heavily infected. This shows home gardeners that they don’t have to use chemicals to have a healthy plant at home. We still grow just over 300 different cultivars of roses, mostly in a monoculture, and they’re very healthy. They get very little black spot; they might have the occasional aphid but nothing that decimates them. We’ve shown that roses don’t need to be grown using chemicals (at least in Auckland) and that’s really cool!

The team evaluating the horticultural merit of sterile agapanthus.



Another aspect of our sustainability research is sustainable water management. At the gardens we’ve got what we call a sustainable water trail, which is a series of different water treatment devices throughout the site that help to treat the water that we use. Our water flows into a natural stream at the bottom of the site. We’ve got a rain garden around the car park that captures all the water, filters out the nasties in the water and slows it down. The water percolates the site throughout these different water treatment devices, such as swales or wetland. Sometimes we’ve got permeable surfaces to also capture water into lawn so it’s not just running off onto paths. A lot of these devices are useful for other people to come and see in situ. We get a lot of big companies visiting who are required to install water treatment devices in their new developments, so this enables them to see the devices in practice and the kind of plants we use, and how it all works. The trail is a good education tool, but also a research tool. We’ve got a researcher who comes in regularly to check on how the trail is doing through, for example, soil testing. I think what sets us apart from others is that our research gets filtered down into the advice we give to the public. We hold a lot of workshops, engaging with the public around what to grow and how to grow it at home, so a core part of our research really does filter into the public domain. Scientific articles from our trials are turned into glossy brochures for the public (‘Plants for Auckland’), with eight plants recommended per plant group. In addition, our website has an online ‘Plants for Auckland’ searchable database containing these plants. A lot of other gardens sometimes struggle with sourcing plants. I think our plant recommendations are valuable as they lead to public demand for these plants. This will in turn drive demand in the horticultural/nursery industry to grow these plants, making them more widely available.

Are research partnerships important to you? Hugely. Because we don’t have a big research team, it’s really important for us to work on partnerships, such as external government research agencies like Landcare Research and Plant & Food. We tend to work with them on projects such as myrtle rust and kauri dieback. They might use our site for sampling of plant material or soil, or they might use our nursery facilities for various experiments. Our nursery is accredited under a New Zealand biosecurity scheme, so we have high hygiene protocols. A lot of the plants we grow are not just for the


Sampling New Caledonian species Araucaria and Agathis foliage for Phytophthora research.


FEATURE INTERVIEW gardens – we grow 65,000 plants a year for revegetation, so we need to make sure our plants are clean. That’s why researchers like using us as a site because they know our nurseries are clean and the plants we provide are valuable for their research. We also provide material for projects we see value in, such as the Lophomyrtus (a genus of the myrtle family) cultivar trial we attempted. Lophomyrtus is heavily affected by myrtle rust. All the cultivars became infected with myrtle rust in the nursery, so perhaps growing highly susceptible species in Auckland is not ideal! All was not lost, however, as we were able to give some samples to a researcher to learn more about the disease and how it behaves on these plants.

Lophomyrtus ‘Red Dragon’ is a highly susceptible cultivar to myrtle rust.

What is your vision for the future of plant science research at the gardens? To become more involved in global conservation, at least between Australia and New Zealand. For example, we maintain several plants in our collection that are threatened. We often have only one individual and we don’t know much about its genetics. This is probably something the BCARM group through BGANZ can help facilitate. We are also expanding our research into sustainable meadows. They are really popular in the northern hemisphere due to their pretty wildflowers, but we don’t have a similar native ecosystem. We’re looking at meadows as a sort of lawn substitute. We want to reduce lawn mowing and still provide usable spaces that people find attractive, and that also provide additional benefits such as habitats for more plants, birds and bugs, and that are better at soaking up rainwater. New Zealanders take real pride in their lawns and are always out mowing noisily at 7am on a Saturday! We’d like to reduce our inputs into our lawns, such as mowing, if possible, and growing a meadow could be the answer. We have a PhD student starting this year who will investigate this. Sustainable meadows are not planted with flowers but are managed (by mowing or soil fertility) to make conditions less suitable for grasses and more suitable for flowering herbs. The research focuses on ways to encourage more of the shorter plants with plenty of flowers in the lawn, not ‘long grass’. We are testing mowing at different frequencies (for example, once a year, once every two months, once after flowering) as well as seeing if we can lower the fertility of the soil (there is evidence diverse meadows are encouraged by low soil fertility). The student will also engage in a lot of social work around what kind of messaging we can use to change people’s perception of what a lawn should be − an unmown lawn might not be the sign of neglect that some people think it is!



FEATURE INTERVIEW Another area in which we are very interested is options for good street trees, especially in terms of climate change. Lot of our street trees are not doing well anymore. I think partnering with the University and another botanic gardens that have some experience in climate modelling would be really useful for us. One of the key comments from our annual visitor survey is that people want more shade, so picking the right tree for the right place is something we need to work on. We’ve had some initial conversations with RBGV Melbourne but if anyone reading this is interested in helping us, please get in touch.

A meadow trial, where we look at mowing frequency and changing soil fertility to drive changes in the plant community to achieve an attractive lawn alternative.

And in your spare time, what are you reading, watching or listening to? To be honest, I’ve been listening to puppy podcasts because I’ve just got a border collie. I’m trying to figure out how to stop her eating my garden and how to stop her jumping on the couch! I’ve also been catching up on the new science video series from RBG Sydney, ‘What the flora!?’,!

Finally, what’s your favourite plant, and why? I usually say I have a favourite group of plants and that’s orchids, but it’s just because I’m biased from my master degree! I also love magnolias. My dream is to have a lawn full of dark purple and pink magnolias. The colour of the flowers is what really attracts me. The way they attract pollinators is also fascinating – the flowers actually warm up to attract beetles, their pollinators. The magnolia family is pretty cool in terms of evolution as they’re one of the first flowering plant families to have evolved, around 60 million years ago. So I’m attracted to them both visually and scientifically! Magnolia ‘Genie’.




Botanic news: from home and abroad Save the dates 10th BGANZ Congress and 7GBGC (Global Botanic Gardens Congress): 26–30 September 2022, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Eamonn Flanagan CEO, BGANZ.

BGANZ congresses are increasingly popular events, and the 10th BGANZ Congress is a joint BGANZ/BGCI Congress to be held in Melbourne, Victoria. Put a note in your diary and get planning, Monday 26 – Friday 30 September 2022, with the final day currently a ‘technical tours’ day.

6th Botanic Gardens Day (last Sunday in May) 30 May 2021 As we went to press the 6th Botanic Gardens Day was in progress. We’ll have an update in the next edition.

BGANZ members: professional development opportunities BGANZ council encourages all members to look out for these awards, and many other non-BGANZ annual awards each year. If you are looking for professional development opportunities, there is a list of awards and secondment opportunities on the BGANZ website. We aim to keep it updated as new professional development opportunities become available.

2021 awards – deadline 31 July 2021 BGANZ awards – objectives The objective of the BGANZ awards is to acknowledge the efforts, and contribute to the ongoing training and development, of BGANZ members through research or work experience with like organisations, which will benefit the applicants, BGANZ members and the wider industry.



2021 BGANZ award applications BGANZ council is delighted to announce the BGANZ Awards for 2021. Applications close 31 July 2021. Sign up for the BGANZ newsletter or check the website for the latest information. • BGANZ Professional Development Award 2021 (Closing date 31 July 2021) value AUD$2,000 • BGANZ Young Member Award 2021 (Closing date 31 July 2021) value AUD$500 • BGANZ/American Public Gardens Association Award 2021 (Recipient Raydeen Cuffe, Wellington Botanic Gardens).

BGANZ member benefits 1. BGANZ partner with Seasol – great offer for members BGANZ has signed a partnership with Seasol Ltd. BGANZ institution and associate members can take advantage of a fantastic offer to purchase Seasol products at significantly reduced prices. Conditions apply. For the confidential price list please email:

2. Hortis – Botanical Database software for members In a survey in 2017, 84% of members called for more support/leadership from BGANZ in Collections Record Management. Tex Moon and the team from BGANZ Vic have worked assiduously towards bringing a major benefit to members. The Hortis database program is available to all members to join immediately (see more from Tex and Hortis on p. 52 in this magazine). A. Victorian Gardens will receive two years’ free membership via a Victorian State Government grant. B. All BGANZ Members, who join anytime in the first four years, will receive double the amount of billable user days for their first year of use. So, 20 days a month becomes 40 every month in year 1 of use.



WHAT’S NEW 3. BGANZ partner with PlantSnap (app) BGANZ has partnered with PlantSnap, the plant photo ID app, and the app is available for all gardens to use. Gardens will be able to add information about their plants to the app, and also gain demographic and visitor information captured when people use the app at their garden. We have held several presentations to many gardens and feedback and interest has been very strong. BGANZ will receive income every time the PlantSnap app is downloaded in Australia and New Zealand, and also every time the free version is downloaded or used. Any revenues earned are earmarked for conservation projects undertaken by our members. BGANZ members can join at any time. If you or your garden would like a presentation of the app, via the BGANZ Digital Workshop, to assess its value for your garden, please send an email to Sam Moon and Sam will organise a time.

4. BGANZ partner with Plant Health Australia BGANZ is delighted to announce it has recently partnered with Plant Health Australia (PHA) for two years. BGANZ members will have great opportunities to attend PHA biosecurity briefings and workshops through webinars held online. You can find dates for PHA Biosecurity Workshops, and additional workshops and PHA information in the BGANZ weekly newsletters.

5. BGANZ partner with Augusta Golf Cars BGANZ members have a great opportunity to discuss all their transport requirements with Augusta Golf Cars. BGANZ encourages all members to contact Augusta Golf Cars to discuss future purchasing opportunities. More information about Augusta is available on the BGANZ website and in this edition of THE BOTANIC GARDENer.

6. Get a great new car deal! For the exclusive benefit of BGANZ members, BGANZ has entered a partnership with Autotender. BGANZ members can now get great prices when purchasing their new car through Autotender. For more information on how members can get better car prices check out the information page here.



WHAT’S NEW BGANZ member news Vacancy: BGANZ Web Content Manager (volunteer position) An opportunity exists to join the BGANZ Communications Group as BGANZ Web Content Manager. Brad Crème has recently stepped down from the position after leading the BGANZ website team. This is a volunteer position. BGANZ website uses the WordPress content management system, and full training and support will be given. The position is not onerous – usually only an hour a week once you are familiar with the system. The BGANZ Web Content Manager works closely with Eamonn, BGANZ CEO, and Sam Moon, Social Media Coordinator. Join your professional network and help your member organisation have the website members deserve. Contact for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.

BGANZ network staff changes Three major contributors to BGANZ. Rebecca (Bec) Stanley has moved on from her role at Auckland Botanic Gardens. Bec has been an outstanding contributor to BGANZ and was Chair of BGANZ NZ for six years. Bec has made a major contribution within Auckland, New Zealand and across Australia. On behalf of all members of BGANZ I thank Bec for her outstanding contribution to the BGANZ Professional Network. I look forward to hearing of your continued career developments. Gone Bec, but never forgotten. You will always be a friend of BGANZ. Julia Watson, BGANZ Council, Chair of BGEN, has stepped down from her position at Auckland Botanic Garden. Julia, as I’m sure many are aware, made an outstanding contribution to the continued growth and professionalism of BGANZ. During Covid, it was Julia who led the BGANZ digital outreach program, a significant development for a widely spread network such as BGANZ. BGANZ connected with many members who had not been met previously or were not able to be heard or their concerns understood. Julia has also been heavily engaged in Council. Julia has worked with the Governance Working Group to drive BGANZ forward. We are much closer to that goal because of Julia’s input. Gone but never forgotten, I wish Julia further career success from all at BGANZ.



Dr Lucy Sutherland, Director, Botanic Gardens South Australia. In my time with BGANZ, Lucy has been an outstanding support and knowledge base – always willing and able to give advice to progress the organisation. Lucy has been a Council member in the last few years and I’ve picked her brain at every opportunity. Thank you, Lucy. Lucy has a long history in botanic gardens. I met her in 2013, when she passionately led the Australian Seedbank Partnership. Lucy leaves BGSA and, depending on where her career takes her, possibly botanic gardens. But Lucy will remain a great friend of BGANZ, an organisation she was instrumental in progressing in the early 2000s. I wish Lucy every success in her future career.

BGANZ Council: How do I get elected? Several members have recently asked: ‘how do I get on to Council?’ Council membership is explained on the website here, but if you have further questions please contact Eamonn Flanagan

BGANZ returning and new members (financial year beginning July 2021) We welcome all new and returning members. Thanks for your support and look forward to your involvement in BGANZ.



Pollinating great ideas World Poetry Day at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens Roana O’Neill, Co-ordinator Communication & Engagement, Bundaberg Regional Council

Roana O’Neill

I recently ran a poetry competition in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens in support of World Poetry Day (WPD) on 21 March 2021. We invited the community to send in their poems and we celebrated WPD for the whole of March. We received a small number of lovely thoughtful poems. We also received poems from three staff which was great. Rod, who lives in a nearby retirement village, wrote two poems (The Botanical Gardens and The Gardens). Nicola penned Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. She is a mum of four who always used to walk through the gardens while waiting for the kids to finish hockey practice (the hockey fields are right next door to the gardens) and now she’s getting back into teaching. Pippa is only seven years old and wrote Botanic Gardens Botanic Gardens. It’s a funny story as her mum, when I spoke to her, had no idea she had entered! We found out that she saw the competition last time she visited the gardens with her grandparents. Pippa had been learning about rhythm and melody at school from her music teacher who had been showing them how to achieve this in three lines, hence the three lines in the poem. Technically it’s actually meant to be sung! The poems by staff are by Monica (Six Mount Perry Road) and Darien/Di (We Fell in Love with a Rainbow Tree). Di runs the nursery in the gardens and Darien is her trainee. Monica works in administration in the office based in the gardens. You’ll find these poems scattered throughout the magazine. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.


Pippa receiving her prize from Cody Johnson, Area Supervisor, Botanic Gardens & Horticulture, Bundaberg Regional Council. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 56 WINTER 2021

Six Mount Perry Road Immersed in calm completely as the rustling leaves sound The sandpaper vine celebrating sprinkles purple confetti around Stories of strong foundations in the Friendship Grove can be found Up the stairs of the Japanese Gardens little legs run leaps and bounds The fresh scent of eucalypt settles on tastebud and nose Bismarck palms stand proudly in the migrant home they chose Lounging on the pathway the water dragon takes his pose Hand in hand lovers walk, sneaking a Hinkler Garden rose Jade, a fitting name for the stand-out turquoise vine Families wait patiently in the sugar cane railway line A cooling presence instantly felt walking beneath the Bunya Pine Warmth closing back in as the sun reinforces its shine Mist falls free and softly within a rainforest of green Lush lawn irrigated by tears of a groom whose bride he’s just seen Ducks swarm diners, for a crumb they’re always keen Bundaberg Botanic gardens, your beauty truly is serene Written by: Monica, staff member, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens Botanic Gardens ducks trees train rides Botanic Gardens

Monica writing her poem at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.

The Japanese Garden at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. Image: Bundaberg Regional Council.

Written by: Pippa, age 7




Conserving alpine habitats and species: challenges, collections and collaboration Megan J. Hirst, Victorian Conservation Seedbank, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

A major challenging and confronting issue in the Australian alpine system is the relatively recent (that is, since European settlement) proliferation of agents of negative change to these areas of high conservation value and biological importance. The consequent impacts of these changes require serious attention to allow the maintenance of ecological connectivity and biodiversity and to

Meg Hirst

halt the continuing demise of biodiversity across these systems. This article explores some of the challenges, the collections underway and collaborations, including those of the Victorian Conservation Seedbank, aimed at conserving alpine ecosystems.

Challenges Some of the major challenges to the alpine environment include the long-lasting effects of hooved feral animals (Driscoll et al. 2019), infrastructure development (Good 1995), tourism (Pickering et al. 2003), the introduction of numerous exotic species (Johnson & Pickering 2009), increasing fire severity and frequency (Camac et al. 2003) and the effects of increased warming from climate change on plant physiology and community composition (Pickering 2007). These are not equally contributing factors across the entire alpine region, and not all alpine ecological communities are affected equally. Within the alpine zone there are known threatened ecological communities with limited geographic distribution such as alpine sphagnum bogs and associated fens that are currently listed as endangered under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. These specialised habitats are of national interest due to their role in regulating and filtering water flows to major river systems. They are considered an integral part of Australian mainland water catchments, valued at approximately $9 billion to the annual Australian economy (Worboys et al. 2011). These bogs and fens form unique communities that contain many endemic



plants and provide habitat to a range of similarly localised native wildlife (for example, the Alpine Water Skink in Victoria, and the Corroboree Frog in New South Wales). In the Victorian alps, the EPBC-listed vulnerable Lobelia gelida (Fig. 1) and Brachyscome tadgelii occur only in shallow ephemeral pools and depressions associated with the listed sphagnum bog community. Damage to these bogs and fens by feral hooved animals – horses, cattle and deer (Fig. 2) – affects local hydrology and the subsequent ability of the bogs to regulate and filter water. This exposes these vulnerable endemics to continued geographic and environmental range reduction. Ex situ seed conservation is one of a suite of strategies to support species survival in the wild, and

Figure 1. From left to right: Neville Walsh (RBGV), Andre Messina (RBGV) and Michelle Doherty (Parks Victoria) inspecting plants of the vulnerable Snow Pratia Lobelia gelida, growing in shallow ephemeral pools on Mt Buffalo. Photo: Darryl Whitaker, March 2020.

in this case in vulnerable alpine communities. It is considered a complementary approach to ensure biological diversity is conserved while supporting in situ activities such as restoration, reintroduction and/or translocation. Research into germination and seed dormancy strategies using ex situ alpine seed collections provides a greater understanding of how alpine plants grow and establish, especially those confined to small pockets of specialised habitat, and how these species could respond to changes within their isolated niches (Fig. 3).

Figure 2. Feral horses on the Bogong High Plains near Mt Jim within proximity of alpine bogs and associated fens and the vulnerable alpine endemic Brachyscome tadgellii, March 2021. Photo: M. Hirst.

Figure 3. From left to right. Ex situ collection of Lobelia gelida seed under magnification. Photo: B. Hare. The mat forming Lobelia gelida growing at Mt Buffalo. Photo: N. Walsh. Lobelia gelida growing in a container under nursery conditions. Photo: M. Hirst. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 56 WINTER 2021


FEATURE ARTICLES Collections Ex situ seed banking Globally, botanic gardens make a significant contribution to plant conservation, with a strong emphasis on the preservation of ex situ plant collections of wild origin via whole plants, seed, or tissue culture (O’Donnell & Sharrock 2017). The Australian Seed Bank Partnership (ASBP)1 is an active alliance of 12 institutions across all states and territories, including botanic gardens, that aims to conserve native plant diversity through significant ex situ seed collections at a national scale while building, researching and sharing knowledge of ex situ seed banking. The Victorian Conservation Seedbank (VCS) is a member of the ASBP and is located within the National Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV). The VCS has been in operation since 2005, making long-term ex situ seed collections of Victorian endemics as well as species at risk. There has been a strong emphasis on alpine seed collections by the VCS, with particular reference to species with very limited geographic distributions.

Collaborations Understanding how species may respond to changes in their environment is an important research area allied to ex situ seed conservation. However, collecting sufficient seed of rare and or threatened species to ensure a quality ex situ collection for long-term storage is not always possible, with further challenges arising when wanting to design research questions around species with limited seed numbers. A collaborative approach in ex situ seed conservation research can provide greater opportunities and support to target specific plant groups as well as ecological communities affected by recent catastrophic events, such as the 2019–20 bushfires in south-eastern Australia. Collaboration across government organisations and within the ASBP has enabled critical work to be funded in fire-affected areas including the in situ assessment of individual species, the collection of critical plant material for ex situ conservation, and germination and viability studies.

Research collaborations with the Victorian Conservation Seedbank The VCS has recruited new RBGV staff members Dr Rebecca Miller (seed scientist), Simon Heyes and Daniel White (research assistants), making our seed team the biggest it has ever been (currently six members)! We are now in possession of some amazing diagnostic equipment to assist with our work, an x-ray machine (see composite image in Fig. 4), thermogradient plate, a scanning electron microscope and growth cabinets, enabling us to expand seed research as well as to conduct germination and viability studies.

1 Further information on the Australian Seed Bank Partnership can be found here 22


A collaborative project is currently under way involving the VCS, Dr Adam Cross of Curtin University and Professor Ary Hoffmann of the University of Melbourne. They are examining the thermal optima of rare and threatened species with an emphasis on alpine endemics. Temperature is a critical abiotic factor affecting germination. Understanding how species may respond to increasing temperatures can provide insight into the optimal temperature range for germination to occur and help illuminate the complex issues around seed dormancy. This study is especially interested in how populations of the same species may respond to temperature

Figure 4. A composite x-ray image of various ex situ seed collections made possible by the acquisition of an x-ray machine at RBGV, a key diagnostic piece of equipment. Image: A. Robinson, 2020.

differences and what this may tell us about their ecology. It is also attempting to unravel questions relating to ecological communities such as the threatened bogs and fens on the Bogong High Plains and the seed ecology of species such as Brachyscome tadgellii (Fig. 5). The Raising Rarity project is a collaborative effort involving the VCS, colleagues from the RBGV Cranbourne and two honorary academics at the University of Melbourne (Dr Susan Murphy and John Delpratt). It seeks to raise awareness of the plight of our flora in ecosystems that are severely threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation and climate change by growing and displaying rare and threatened Victorian species in an accessible horticultural setting. Plants are grown by seed in

Figure 5. From left to right. Ex situ collection of Brachyscome tadgellii seed under magnification. Image: B. Hare. Brachyscome tadgellii growing in different container sizes under nursery conditions. Photo: M. Hirst.



containers and transplanted to the Research Garden located within the Australian Garden at RBGV Cranbourne. We are working with rare plants that we believe have the potential for use in horticulture and so far have tested 16 species. We record germination rate, growth and time to flowering as well as their overall performance. Species tested include Lobelia gelida (Fig. 4) and Brachyscome tadgellii (Fig. 5) as well as other interesting alpine species, Argyrotegium nitidulum, Podolepis laciniata and Wahlenbergia densifolia. Continuing our focus on the Australian alps, the RBGV will be involved in an exciting Australian Research Council Linkage project, ‘Mountain champions: Building resilient alpine environments with less snow’, led by Dr Susanna Venn of Deakin University and in collaboration with a large group of partners including colleagues from the Australian Mountain Research Facility and La Trobe University, beginning in June 2021. Within the ASBP, specialist knowledge often exists, and this is freely shared among partners to aid in the germination of ‘nuts that prove particularly hard to crack’ – supplying essential leads that allow the puzzles of seed behaviour to be explored. Now, more than ever, a collaborative approach in ex situ seed conservation is necessary to combat species decline and the aftermath of recent catastrophic events that know no state boundaries. Through the ASBP, greater access to expert knowledge, and techniques, is provided to help seedbanks with the challenges ahead. As we welcome our new VCS team members, we are building more collaborative projects, some of which are now off and running – but stay tuned as there is more to come!

Now, more than ever, a collaborative approach in ex situ seed conservation is necessary to combat species decline. For more information on ex situ conservation and the Australian Seed Bank Partnership please follow this link:

References Camac, J., Williams, R.J., Wahren, C.H., Morris, W.K., & Morgan, J.W. (2013). Post-fire regeneration in alpine heathland: Does fire severity matter? Austral Ecology, 38, 199–207. Driscoll, D.A., Worboys, G.L., Allan, H., et al. (2019). Impacts of feral horses in the Australian Alps and evidence-based solutions. Ecological Management and Restoration, 20, 63–72. Good, R. (1995). Ecologically sustainable development in the Australian alps. Mountain Research and Development, 15(3), 251–258. doi:10.2307/3673932.



FEATURE ARTICLES Johnston, F., & Pickering, C.M. (2009). Alien plants in the Australian Alps. Mountain Research and Development, 21, 284–291. O’Donnell, K., & Sharrock, S. (2017). The contribution of botanic gardens to ex situ conservation through seed banking. Plant Diversity, 39(6), 373–378. Pickering, C.M., Harrington, J., & Worboys, G.L. (2003). Environmental impacts of tourism on the Australian Alps protected areas. Mountain Research and Development, 23(3), 247–254. Pickering, C.M. (2007). ‘Climate change and other threats in the Australian Alps’ in M. Taylor & P. Figgis (eds), Protected areas: Buffering nature against climate change. Proceedings of a WWF and IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas symposium, 18–19 June 2007, Canberra. WWF Australia, Sydney. Worboys, G.L., Good, R.B., & Spate, A. (2011). Caring for our Australian Alps catchments: A climate change action strategy for the Australian Alps to conserve the natural condition of the catchments and to help minimise threats to high quality water yields, Australian Alps Liaison Committee, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Canberra.

The Gardens I have a small confession, and I swear that it is true – I would rather visit gardens than visit to the zoo. ( There is nothing wrong with animals, let that be my first remark ), But nothing can compare, for me, with walking in the park. The types of trees are endless, a brilliant splash of scenery, Whether Palms or Ferns or Pines, all dressed in shades of greenery. Grass Trees, Lacebarks, Kapok Trees, all different as can be, And Bottlebrush and Magnolia, and the lovely Chestnut Tree. The blossoms and the flowers, and the Frangipani blooms – The perfumes and the colours would brighten any rooms. Impatiens ( Busy Lizzie ), and Daisies add their flair, And the massed display of Gauras will make you stop and stare. You don’t have to be a botanist to enjoy a garden walk, You don’t need to know the Latin names of horticultural talk. Just look around, and see the plants, and revel in their aura – For nothing could be better when you’re surrounded by the Flora. Written by: Rod, retiree


Butterfly Bush, or Gaura, at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.



Plant Collection Guidelines: where do I start? Emma Bodley, Chair of BCARM and Botanical Records & Conservation Specialist, Auckland Botanic Gardens

In December 2020, the BGANZ Collections and Records Management group (BCARM) held a workshop to find out what challenges horticulture staff face in their roles. A few people highlighted the lack of guiding documents that help structure and

Emma Bodley

drive the content of individual plant collections. We decided to interview staff at one garden who have recently reviewed their plant collection guidelines to get an understanding of the process they went through to write such a document, as well as how useful it is in practice to horticultural staff. There are many ways to create these guidelines. I interviewed my colleagues to find out how they developed their Plant Collection Guidelines (PCG). I hope this might spark further discussion within the BCARM community about how you might develop your own document, as well as to prompt the use of the toolkit available through the BGANZ website. I interviewed Bec Stanley, Curator, about the process she used to create the PCG and Angela Anstis, Collection Curator of edibles and natives, about the usefulness of the PCG in her work. Let’s first find out from Bec Stanley what the Plant Collection Guidelines are all about and how they were written. EB: Auckland Botanic Gardens has Plant Collection Guidelines – what are they and what is their purpose? BS: The Guidelines set out our plant collection policies, as well as the ways we work, such as plant documentation and sustainable horticultural practice. But the largest part of the Guidelines are the statements for each collection/garden which outline why we have that garden and what research, conservation and education roles it plays. The Guidelines give a Bec Stanley, Curator, Auckland Botanic Gardens. 26

gardener a clear direction in terms of what is expected of them, guiding them on plant acquisition and horticultural standards. They also ensure


accountability by enabling assessment of the presentation of each garden, and form the basis for the horticultural assessments. EB: It’s a comprehensive document with lots of different elements, with a two-page outline for each garden, to general horticultural practice principals. How did you write a document like this? Was this drafted and then staff commented on it, or was a collaborative approach taken? BS: It is crucial that the staff that manage a collection are part of the writing process. I’d led a collaborative project in a previous role, where I’d projected my computer screen to enable the group to write ‘out loud together’, a process I adapted for the Plant Collection Guidelines. I’d start by asking, “What is the purpose of this collection? Why do we have it?”, which focussed our brainstorming on that specific collection. Together we then agreed on its purpose for the future. This was a chance to

Horticultural assessments are conducted twice a year for every garden and collection to check back with the main goals in the Plant Collection Guidelines to see how well we are achieving what we planned to do. These involve various staff members to give some outside perspective, to brainstorm and contribute fresh ideas.

reframe the purpose if necessary. I invited current staff that looked after that collection, and sometimes previous staff joined us too. I’d send out the statement by email immediately after the meeting (as it was drafted ‘live’) and ask for feedback. It was important that no major changes happened after we were together, and if so, we’d meet again.

Snapshots of the Plant Collection Guidelines.



FEATURE ARTICLES EB: As with most policies and strategies, it’s valuable to regularly reflect on them and identify innovations and changes. How and when do you review the PCG? BS: We optimistically thought that we’d revise the whole document every two years, but it’s turned out the policy parts are more stable. We review statements whenever a new staff member starts (to get a shared understanding with them), and also if there is a new development or other major change. The first draft took the most time, about six months, and it was a big project for senior staff that attended the drafting of every statement. EB: Do the PCGs link with any other policies or strategies at the gardens? BS: The Guidelines sit alongside the Engagement Plan which guides our visitor services. EB: Is there anything you’d do differently if you were going to start from scratch when thinking about how you manage the plant collections? BS: The first draft was a real commitment for field staff, so it’s best to time the meetings to coincide with the least busy time outside in the garden, rather than using the timeline of the guidelines project as the driver. I also think regarding the Guidelines as a live document (rather than a printed copy) would be more useful. It would enable more flexibility to make minor changes. A hard copy is far more useful in the field, however, so I understand why we print them! EB: You’ve got a section on how you acquire plants for the gardens which is an incredibly important process especially for plant records. What are the key things to think about when creating an acquisition policy? BS: We have a section in the Guidelines on plant introduction to ensure that plants we acquire meet the accession criteria for that collection, as well as being high performing plants (which haven’t been previously discarded due to poor performance). But, just as importantly, we need to ensure plants have been collected with the relevant permissions and that they are not weeds. We also provide guidance for rejecting plants if their identity is questionable or if we suspect they are not

The Edible Garden is a series of themed gardens displaying a diverse range of interesting and productive edible plants. The Walled Garden is a formal potager‑style garden designed in the English tradition within formal brick walls that provide a range of different microclimates for more diverse crops to be grown.

legally known to be in the country.



Now let’s find out from Angela Anstis how the Plant Collection Guidelines are put into practice by horticultural staff. EB: As someone who is relatively new to working in a botanic garden, what have you found most helpful to understand the plant collections you manage? AA: Each staff has their own copy of the Plant Collection Guidelines which are laid out in a clear and simple way. It was a bit overwhelming at the start, as reading lots of text can be bewildering, but after reading through the collections I manage a few times, I understood clearly what was expected from each collection.

Angela Anstis, Collection Curator of edibles and natives, Auckland Botanic Gardens.

EB: Every garden has a clear objective or goal so how do you know what plants to select when planting the areas you look after to ensure you are meeting those goals? AA: One of the key tools I use is our database, IrisBG, to check what is currently growing and what we’ve grown in the past. I check the comments to see if there is information about plant performance and other useful information previous staff have recorded about the plants grown here. When we remove a plant, we record why it was removed, as this is such valuable information. For each part of the edible garden, it is very clear what types of plants I’d select because of the theme of each section. The Kiwi Backyard is for classic plants that New Zealanders would grow at home, the Culinary Courtyard is for plants used in cooking, and the Walled Garden is for more display edibles and provides different growing conditions within the walls. EB: Globally, there are three key roles of a botanic garden; education, research and conservation. How are the key roles of a botanic garden incorporated into the Guidelines for each of your collections? AA: In the Guidelines, there are clear statements to help me know what the roles are. For example, there is a rain garden in the edible garden, with interpretation about why it is important and how it is part of our sustainable water trail, which fulfils part of our research role. We’ve got a range of interesting displays in the edible garden to encourage people of all ages into gardening, like the raised planter beds for elderly people or those with accessibility challenges. The worm farm is popular with kids and educates visitors about the value of worms and what they can do at home in terms of worm farms and composting. The different types of interpretation help to communicate these messages.



EB: All the staff at ABG have a hard copy for them to refer to and make notes in. How often would you pick up the PCG to refer to it and what types of things might you be referring to when you do? AA: When I started, I picked it up all the time. I asked lots of questions but always checked back with the Guidelines. It’s the bible for what we do in terms of plant collections management. As my knowledge and understanding grew, I started referring to it less often. It will be useful if I ever change collections. We rotate curators every few years so of course I can talk to other curators who have worked in that area, but it’s good to use the Guidelines as the basis of my understanding of what the plant collection is meant to achieve. We’ve also reviewed the Guidelines since I’ve been here, so it was a good opportunity to re-read them and see that the gardens were still meeting the goals and objectives. It’s an important document when you are new, but it’s also important at times of change in a collection. And gardens are ever changing!

The Potter Children’s garden is a garden for children of all ages to enjoy and be inspired by plants and their ecological relationships, diversity, and adaptations with two sections, natives and habitats. Pictured here is one of the four distinct stylised habitats that explores the adaptations plants have made to different environmental situations. These range from extremely dry (desert) to permanently wet (bog), with a tropical forest and a meadow.



FEATURE ARTICLES EB: If you were going to give advice to someone who works at a garden where they don’t have a Plant Collection Guidelines document, what would you say to them? AA: Find out as much information as you can from the other resources you have, like a plant database or the seed and propagation books in the nursery. They give you an idea

The Native Plant Ideas garden shows outstanding ornamental native plants attractively combined in creatively designed gardens.

of what has been tried before. Also look at the site you have and assess what would work in those conditions. Don’t be afraid to try things, but record what you do so that others can learn from it. Please get in touch with me ( if you’d like a copy of the Auckland Botanic Gardens Plant Collection Guidelines.

We Fell in Love with a Rainbow Tree We fell in love with a Rainbow tree In the gardens it’s appealing to see It sheds its bark to show off its colours It’s so unique it’s like no others Monument Hill is where you will find it It’s a tranquil place to picnic and sit To hear the birds and see the butterflies You won’t believe your own two eyes You really don’t want to miss this It’s the great “Rainbow Eucalyptus” Written by: Darien and Di, staff members, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.




Rockhampton Botanic Gardens – open for business science Michael Elgey, Curator of Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and Kershaw Gardens, and BGANZ Queensland Council member

Rockhampton Botanic Gardens is the second oldest botanic garden in Queensland and recently celebrated its 151st birthday. There have only been seven curators over that time, however, with me taking on the role in late 2018 as the seventh. During the early

Michael Elgey

establishment and development of the gardens, under the first three curators, there is evidence that exchange of material and living collections occurred with several herbaria and botanic gardens in Australia and overseas. Due to financial constraints, at no time in the history of the gardens had there been dedicated personnel assigned to a scientific research position, but the gardens did pride themselves on collaboration with other institutions and the already mentioned specimen and collection exchange. From working with collections within the National Herbarium of New South Wales and with living collections at both the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and in my current role at Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, I have developed a broad and appreciative understanding of how the botanical collections held within these institutions significantly contribute to the progression of botanical science. Yet these institutions cannot work in isolation and can benefit from the exchange of knowledge, data and material within regional botanical collections. Rockhampton Botanic Gardens is openly assisting and contributing to botanical science research programs from material contained within our collections and across our local flora. At present, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens does not have a comprehensive database of our collections, but this is something we aim to rectify in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, I would like to share a bit more of the history of Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, its collections, previous curators and plans moving forward.



How Rockhampton Botanic Gardens came to be – a brief history In 1860, Rockhampton was granted municipality status. It faced a major issue of limited access to fresh water as the supply was not located within the township. As the water was very poor quality, residents experienced high mortality rates from contracting water-borne diseases such as cholera. With the limited finances available to the newly formed municipality, it implemented a water purification system, but the situation was still not adequate. On Thursday 11 November 1869 at the meeting of the Rockhampton Municipal Council, a letter from the Department of Public Lands informed the Council that the Government had reserved Portion No. 3, Parish of Rockhampton, for the purpose of a Public Gardens and Water Supply. This was formally publicised in the Queensland Government Gazette on 13 December 1869 and thus Rockhampton Botanic Gardens was formed. In August 1873, the first government grant payment was received by the municipality and was applied towards employing a curator for the botanic gardens with the first appointee being James Scott Edgar.

Curators and their key collection contributions James Scott Edgar, curator 1873–1902 Edgar was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1822 and undertook a horticultural apprenticeship at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In 1857, he emigrated to Sydney. He worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney as a gardener until 1858, when he and his family sailed to Rockhampton. He then worked for botanist Anthelme Thozet at his experimental garden. In 1866, he was summoned to work for the Queensland Commissioner for the Paris Exhibition to collect timber samples. He later went to work as a propagator for a large experimental garden and nursery in Brisbane before returning to Rockhampton and taking up the role of curator of Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. Edgar’s directions were to develop the gardens as a facility for experimentation in economic botany and a shady pleasure garden for the people of Rockhampton. Edgar himself went about establishing professional links with overseas botanic gardens, supplying them with plant specimens and seeds collected in and around Rockhampton in exchange for material he could propagate. The Queensland Acclimatisation Society also took an active interest, providing Edgar with plant stock and seed material from their own resources. Murray Lagoon on the western boundary of the gardens provided water for irrigation. This was bucketed by hand into casks on the back of a dray, which was then driven to where the water was required. It was not until 1880 that a windmill was purchased to replace this laborious process.



FEATURE GARDEN Edgar set out to divide the gardens into north and south precincts with avenue plantings that extended the entire length of the gardens. Bunya Pines Araucaria bidwillii were planted along the northern half of the central axis and Cuban Royal Palms Roystonea regia along the southern section. Both planting themes remain, and many original individuals are still in situ. Along the northern boundary of the gardens a row of Tamarinds Tamarindus indica were planted. Eleven remain, although it is unknown how many were originally planted. Teeing off from the tamarind avenue, Edgar planted four Banyan Figs Ficus benghalensis. Three survive today, forming a truly unique shady pleasure garden.

Banyan Figs Ficus benghalensis planted by James Scott Edgar.

Within the experimental economic botany garden, many of the original tree specimens still survive, including: • Kauri Pine Agathis australis • Silk Cotton Tree Bombax ceiba • Japanese Chestnut Castanea crenata • Kapok Tree Ceiba pentandra • Coconut Cocos nucifera • West Indian Locust Hymenaea courbaril • Sausage Tree Kigelia pinnata • Amarillo Lafoensia punicifolia • Mango Mangifera indica • Bumpy Satinash Syzygium cormiflorum • Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum. In March 1902, Edgar retired and moved to Sydney

Kapok Tree Ceiba pentandra in the Experimental Garden.

where he died soon after on 24 June 1902, aged 80.



Richard Jacobs Simmons, curator 1902–1931 Richard Simmons was born in Ireland in 1862. He undertook an apprenticeship to Sir James William Mackey at his nursery near Dublin. He later worked as a gardener at Bally Burly Castle. Simmons emigrated to Australia in 1884 and obtained a position at the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. During his time as curator, Simmons undertook several initiatives to enhance the public appeal of the gardens as a passive recreational venue. Along the Central Avenue, he planted a grove of West Indian Mahogany Swietenia mahagoni behind the western row of Bunya Pines Araucaria bidwillii. This was an attempt to screen 17 acres of an undeveloped section of the gardens lying beyond, which had become overgrown with

Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum in the Experimental Garden.

lantana. During 1922, Simmons cleared this lantana in the outer gardens between Bunya Avenue and Murray Lagoon. This area was never used to expand the gardens. Instead, it was planted with Rhodes Grass Chloris gayana and used to graze the gardens’ workhorses, a practice that continued until 1964. In 1918, the gardens were hit with a tropical cyclone and Richards stated, ’Some of the oldest trees in the place were unable to stand the force of the gale and were crushed to the ground. Others that bore up against the gale showed by their battered appearance and the branches and litter on the ground the ordeal to which they had been subjected’. The Rockhampton War memorial was completed in 1924 within the gardens. It consisted of a granite obelisk and 12 large Date Palms Phoenix canariensis, forming a functioning sundial and a symbol of unity. The horticultural icons introduced into the gardens by Simmons include a cluster of Ponytail Palms Beaucarnea recurvata in the lower gardens and the avenue of Hoop Pines Araucaria cunninghamii, planted in 1930 along James Edgar’s Central Avenue. He also added rainforest tree species to Edgar’s Banyan Fig Ficus benghalensis plantings, and avenue plantings of Date Palms Phoenix canariensis and Indian Almond Terminalia melanocarpa from the pedestrian entrance along the eastern boundary. In 1931, Richard Simmons resigned due to poor health.



Henry George Simmons, curator 1932–1957 Henry George Simmons was the son of the previous curator, Richard Simmons. Henry took up the role during hard economic times. He capitalised on the availability of no-cost labour through an employment scheme to build required infrastructure such as footpaths, roads and drainage lines. During the 1930s Simmons planted a collection of clumping bamboo along Murray Lagoon to assist in controlling mosquitoes breeding in these low-lying areas. Additional Bougainvillea Bougainvillea glabra were planted out to form a large vine arbour through the gardens. Henry Simmons had a passion for both native species and species from the Pacific Islands, and planted numerous native rainforest species and Cook Island Pines Araucaria columnaris.

Henry Simmons had a passion for both native species and species from the Pacific Islands. In the main lawn areas he planted out may Hibiscus specimens in the vista lawns, which survived until approximately 2015. In 1941, the construction of a batten-style fernery in the shape of a Celtic cross was completed. Though it was called a fernery, it housed crotons, tree ferns, epiphytic plants and foliage plants. Unfortunately, during World War II, the gardens fell into a state of neglect as resources were redirected to cultivate 10 acres of vegetables and fruit to feed the 70,000 American troops stationed in and around Rockhampton. In 1949, the gardens faced another tropical cyclone, which destroyed a significant number of large trees. Unfortunately, there is no record of which species were lost or whether they were replaced. In 1957, Henry Simmons retired after 25 years of service.

Kenneth Clive Baker, curator 1957–1972 Kenneth Baker had worked as a CSIRO experimentalist on pastures in south-west Queensland. In 1959 the first major planting under Baker’s curatorship occurred when 2,000 Pinus radiata were donated by the Forestry Department. The objective was to create a forest plantation. Survival rates were not good but remnants of this planting still exist.



FEATURE GARDEN In the mid-1960s, the quarry area between the Zoo and Murray Lagoon was filled in and converted to what is now the Flowering Tree Lawn. In 1968, Baker introduced a collection of the (then) rare Byfield Fern Bowenia spectabilis into the gardens, which remains in situ today. In 1972, work commenced planting the new Arid Garden at the rear of the Cenotaph. This was to be a collection of dry climate plants endemic to the world’s desert regions, particularly the arid zones of Central America. Soon after its completion, Baker resigned from his position as curator, in November 1972.

James Reynolds, Curator 1973–1974 James Reynolds was appointed curator in January 1973. He served briefly in the role for 18 months before resigning in June 1974. During his short time as curator, Reynolds produced and distributed an Index Seminum (seed index) for the gardens and conducted field trials with a variety of eucalypt species.

Thomas Alan Wyatt, curator 1974–1998, 2001−2009 Tom Wyatt was appointed as curator in August 1974. A major project under his curatorship was the construction of a Japanese garden. The garden was designed by leading Japanese landscape designer, the late Kenzo Ogata, and construction commenced in 1979. In 1976, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens was acclaimed as holding the largest palm species collection in the southern hemisphere, and this prompted Tom to secure more palms for the gardens. In 1976, Wyatt began to research the production of a tropical fruit arboretum. It was intended as a display garden to demonstrate the diverse variety of tropical fruit that could be grown in home gardens across central Queensland. Planting of the arboretum was completed in 1978. Seed material obtained from botanic gardens in Mexico and Zimbabwe was grown on and planted within the Cenotaph Lawn in the early 1990s.




Moving forward In 2015, the gardens were severely impacted by tropical cyclone Marcia, which caused many trees and specimens to be lost or to decline beyond curative repair. Since 2018, the focus at the gardens has been to undertake a much-needed clean-up of the existing gardens and collections and a stocktake of the existing tree collection. Some of the existing infrastructure has also been upgraded, reconstructed or replaced, including new water mains, footpaths, a gazebo and floral clock. These works are just the first step in moving the gardens forward and plans are being made for future redevelopments. These will coincide with the development of a collections building strategy, new and updated conservation management plans and a 10-year operational implementation plan. In January 2021, the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney approached Rockhampton Botanic Gardens for assistance in collecting material of an Ajuga species from a council reserve within the region. There was no hesitation in my response that Rockhampton Botanic Gardens was more than willing to assist in collecting herbarium specimens, DNA material and a living collection. Like many regional botanic gardens, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens has more limited opportunities to undertake active research than those in capital cities or those which have traditionally been aligned with research as a function of the site. But from my experience in monthly meetings with my curatorial colleagues across Queensland, many regional botanic gardens are not just open to assisting in science research but are usually more than willing to share their collection material and access their local flora. So, if you are undertaking research and think a regional botanic garden may be able to assist, please do not hesitate to ask, and remember, we are open for business science.


Avenue of Bunya Pines Araucaria bidwillii, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. Image: Rockhampton Regional Council.


Inala Jurassic Garden: a global collection of Gondwanan flora on south Bruny Island, Tasmania Dr Tonia Cochran, Owner, Curator and Collection Manager, Inala Jurassic Garden, South Bruny, Tasmania

The Inala Jurassic Garden is a privately owned botanic garden located on south Bruny Island off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania. Its relatively remote location on an ‘island off an island off an island’ is rather a fitting place for a garden which features representatives of living plant families whose ancestors thrived on the ancient Gondwana supercontinent when it began splitting

Tonia Cochran. Photo: Bronwen Scott.

apart in the Jurassic period to form today’s southern land masses – quite the Jurassic Park with its plant equivalents of dinosaurs that are still with us today! Unlike the eventual size of some of its plant inhabitants, the garden is currently quite small (around 5 acres, or 2 hectares, in size). However, it is located within my 1,500 acre (600 hectare) conservationcovenanted property ‘Inala’ which is predominantly comprised of natural vegetation: mostly wet sclerophyll Messmate Stringybark Eucalyptus obliqua forest with a mix of heathland, wetland and rainforest elements and a small balance of pasture which was created by the early European settlers in the mid-1800s (Fig. 1). The concept for the garden is a culmination of ideas formed over more than 25 years of leading tours in Tasmania and across the globe and has been inspired by Tasmania’s Gondwanan connections. As the last piece of Gondwana to separate from the Antarctic continent around 45 million years ago, Tasmania is well placed to demonstrate this connection, both in terms of its native flora and its geology and is therefore an ideal base to showcase such a garden. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 56 WINTER 2021

Figure 1. Aerial view of the Inala property showing the location of the Inala Jurassic Garden. Photo: B. Moriarty.


Over this period, the Gondwanan theme frequently reoccurred, mostly during Tasmanian tours where Gondwanan floral relics such as Myrtle Beech Nothofagus cunninghamii, Sassafras Atherosperma moschatum and Leatherwood Eucryphia lucida abound in our cool temperate rainforests. These species are also present in other areas of Australia such as south-western and eastern Australia and several of the international destinations that we visit on tour such as South Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, where Gondwanan flora feature prominently. A series of incidents inspired the actual creation of the garden. In 2012, the Australian Government was offering funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis for ‘innovative tourism projects in regional areas.’ Around the same time, I met a plant collector who specialised in Gondwanan species, and I sold the last of the stud cattle herd that I had farmed for the previous 25 years. The natural progression (in my mind) was to plant a few specimens in a five acre area of pasture previously used as a cattle paddock to demonstrate the concept of Gondwana in terms of its flora so that we could use this as an educational tool, both on our tours and for access to the general public. On being advised of the success of the Commonwealth grant in 2013, landscaping began in earnest, with the addition of shallow lakes, huge locally sourced Jurassic dolerite boulders, concrete easy-access paths and topographical changes to the garden beds using local contractors and huge machinery (Fig. 2). Researching and collecting specimens was also reaching an obsessive level and an important decision had to be made regarding what constituted a Gondwanan taxon. My main interest was plant families of ancient lineage that occurred by vicariance − geographical separation because of plate tectonics and consequent speciation on the separate continents formed by the splitting apart of the Gondwanan supercontinent. But I also decided to include, for interest and comparison, those species of more geologically recent taxa with a Gondwanan distribution that may have occurred by past long-distance dispersal after the separation of the supercontinent.

Figure 2. Landscaping with local Jurassic dolerite rocks and constructing an easy access path. Photos: T. Cochran.



FEATURE GARDEN The time had also come to decide how the garden was to be planted. At first, the concept was to plant the species together within their respective continent of origin so that visitors could pass between separate garden beds containing Australian, New Zealand, New Caledonian, South African and South American plants. I quickly realised this wasn’t going to work, either from a plant management point of view, or in terms of demonstrating the concept as people moved between similar-looking beds. Planting specimens from different Gondwanan countries together in family groups seemed to solve both problems and the similarity between species was much more apparent by direct comparison. My theory was that species from the same family would probably require similar cultivation requirements. The paddock was therefore divided into sections where I thought (and hoped) that the different families would grow best, for example, water-loving members of the families Gunneraceae and Restionaceae were planted near the waterholes and waterlogged areas of the paddock, while members of the Proteaceae were planted in well-drained, sunny positions. The first specimens were planted in October 2013. After planting, we heavily mulched with eucalyptus bark to provide good preliminary garden preparation which would reduce consequent weeding and watering. Each specimen was also labelled with the name of the family to which they belonged, their common and scientific name, their country of origin and a catalogue number specific to each species which also included the year it was planted. Within two weeks of installing the plant labels, we found that birds such as robins were irresistibly attracted to them as perches and consequently, they became quite heavily covered with guano. The addition of wire ‘poo deflectors’ which are higher than and pointing behind the label, has been a huge success (Fig. 3). A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet database was also developed containing further details on where and when the plants were sourced, cultivation notes and additional notes on the requirements of each species in their wild state, to be updated as required and kept on file for reference and further research. The next major task was to keep the specimens alive and healthy. My previous experience with growing plants was a cactus collection when I was a child, some carnivorous plants and orchids in my office, and native Australian plant cultivation. This included a 5-acre commercial Brown Boronia Boronia megastigma plantation (comprised of around 35,000 plants) which was harvested annually for the essential oil industry for a period of over 15 years in the 1990s and 2000s. It was therefore a huge learning curve to suddenly determine the various requirements of hundreds of different specimens comprising over 50 plant families from around the world. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 56 WINTER 2021

Figure 3. Plant label with ‘poo deflector’ which gives birds an alternative perch and keeps signs clean! Photo: T. Cochran.


FEATURE GARDEN In addition to extensive research on the natural conditions of each taxa in the wild, I extrapolated this information to soil types and fertility levels of each Gondwanan country. For example, I worked on the assumption that the New Zealand species would require more fertilizer because of the rich, volcanic soils of their native country, while Australian specimens were given small amounts of native fertiliser and products such as seaweed extract as required. This has largely been successful, and we try to learn from our relatively few failures (which we take to heart). Watering was another issue that needed to be addressed. Because of the amount of mulch applied, the water requirement is much reduced and due to the individual needs of each plant we have elected not to water with sprinklers or any broad-range method, choosing instead to hand‑water as required. For this we have designed a reticulated system with strategically placed taps around the garden for easy access. Rainwater is collected in four 22,500 litre tanks and additional water is periodically applied to the water-loving plants by soaking the whole area using a hose that is gravity fed from a larger waterhole into the shallow pools within the garden to keep them full over summer. As the garden has grown and root systems develop, the need to water has further reduced. The garden opened to the public on 31 March 2014. In its early development, I must admit it looked much more like a cemetery than a garden with its new landscaping of huge Jurassic dolerite rocks which were sourced locally on Bruny Island and plant labels which overshadowed the tiny seedlings and cuttings (Fig. 4). Since that time, the plants have grown beyond our expectations and we have thankfully suffered very few losses (Fig. 5). This is in no small part due to the situation of the garden, which is in a protected valley around 20 metres above sea level with two semi-permanent creeks flowing through it. The soil here is comprised of alluvial topsoil overlaying weathered dolerite-derived clayey soil and the average annual rainfall is around 763 millimetres per year. Although we are situated at a latitude of around 43°S, our maritime island climate protects us from the most severe weather, but we do experience

Figure 4. Picture of the Inala Jurassic garden when it first opened in 2014. Photo: T. Cochran.


Figure 5. Picture of the same area of the garden as in Figure 4 taken in 2020. Photo: B. Moriarty.


a few frosts each winter. Frosts have become less of a problem as plants develop and canopies thicken, although in the first few years we put ‘blankets’ made of shade cloth and bracken fern fronds over the tender young plants when we anticipated a frosty morning. Thick cypress and Acacia melanoxylon windbreaks have also strategically been planted to reduce potentially damaging northerly and southerly winds. Over 50 plant families and around 700 species are now represented in the garden and include the conifer families Araucariaceae, Podocarpaceae and the subfamily Cupressaceae: Callitroideae (the southern cypresses), all of which are estimated to have originated in the Jurassic period around 200 million years ago. The ancient angiosperm families represented in the garden include the Winteraceae, Atherospermataceae, Proteaceae, Nothofagaceae and Myrtaceae which are believed to have originated in Gondwana 80−94 million years ago. Monocot representatives of Gondwanan flora such as the family Restionaceae (dating back to the Cretaceous period around 65 million years ago) are also featured as are taxa of probably more recent lineage such as the genus Libertia (family Iridaceae) of which we grow species from South America, New Zealand and Australia. Strategic plantings have enabled us to create microhabitats where species from much warmer climes are growing, such as the Firewheel Tree Stenocarpus sinuatus, Macadamia Macadamia tetraphylla and several New Caledonian species. We are also having good success with high altitude species at lower latitudes such as Wilkie’s Leatherwood Eucryphia wilkiei (Fig. 6). This is a relatively newly discovered species restricted to the cloud forest on top of Mt Bartle Frere in the wet tropics region of north-eastern Queensland. Our specimens are already producing flowers and viable seed from which we are growing new seedlings. We have also managed to convince species such as Blue Mountains Pine Phaerosphera fitzgeraldii to grow here despite the absence of spray zones of waterfalls on the sandstone escarpments of its natural habitat. Another species with which we are having great success is the Wollemi Pine Wollemia nobilis. In addition to the two original plants

Figure 6. Eucryphia wilkiei, a member of the family Cunoneaceae found in the cloud forests in north Queensland which is growing and flowering in the Inala Jurassic Garden. Photo: T. Cochran.

that I purchased around 10 years ago, over the past few years we have ‘adopted’ several additional large potted specimens from members of the general public who can no longer look after them. We are thrilled to watch these rather bedraggled, nutrition‑deficient, pot-bound plants thrive after being planted in the garden (after a couple of months of quarantine). They are now rewarding us with luxuriant growth and masses of both male and female strobili from which we are now harvesting and germinating viable seed and successfully striking cuttings for mass plantings.



We also grow most of the Tasmanian endemic plants with Gondwanan connections including many alpine species such as the monotypic Mountain Rocket Bellendena montana (Fig. 7). Native Plum Cenarrhenes nitida and Creeping Strawberry Pine Microcachrys tetragona. We have found King Billy Pine Athrotaxis selaginoides difficult to grow and have learned that it prefers a more shaded position, at least when it is small, than the Pencil Pine Athrotaxis cupressoides and Summit Cedar A. laxifolia which are

Figure 7. Mountain Rocket Bellendena montana, a monotypic Tasmanian endemic basal member of the family Proteaceae in the Inala Jurassic Garden. Photo: B. Moriarty.

growing at a much faster than expected rate, even though the latter species is believed to be a natural cross between Pencil and King Billy Pine. In addition to labelling every species, interpretive signs for each family have been installed throughout the garden and the entrance sign includes an introductory explanation on Gondwana and the theory of plate tectonics to give context. The Inala property manager Steven ‘Bori’ Morris and I also run guided tours of the garden for those people who request additional interpretation. The content of the tour varies according to whether the visitors are school and community groups, garden societies, private individuals or those with a more academic interest. In all cases, we aim to provide education, increase awareness and contribute to conservation. The latter is undertaken by growing as many species as possible that are threatened in their natural environment with the aim of providing insurance specimens and perpetuating the species through provision of stock plants to other botanic gardens throughout Australia. These two philosophies underpin our business ethos at Inala, from covenanting the natural forest on the property, to the aims of our ecotourism company. The garden is open to the public and entry fees and sales from the adjoining gift shop which sells local crafts and books contribute to the Inala Foundation for the conservation of natural habitat and threatened flora and fauna. The garden is also complemented by the adjacent Inala Nature Museum, which contains fossilised representatives of some of the extant taxa growing in the garden. The garden logo was created from merging an image of the foliage of a living Wollemi Pine Wollemia nobilis which is growing in the garden and a 175-million-year-old Jurassic fossil of the extinct species Agathis jurassica which shows the morphological similarity between the foliage of these two members of the Araucariaceae (Fig. 8).



FEATURE GARDEN The garden joined BGANZ in 2019 and I attended the 9th BGANZ Congress in Wellington, New Zealand in October 2019 with the generous assistance of a BGANZ travel grant, as the small entry fee that we charge for the garden contributes to a small percentage of the cost of running the garden, which is predominantly self-funded. I was truly inspired by the breadth of topics covered, the depth of combined

Figure 8. The Inala Jurassic Garden logo was created by merging a terminal branch and developing male strobilus of Wollemia nobilis and a 175-million‑year‑old fossilised specimen of Agathis jurassica to demonstrate the connection between living and extinct Gondwanan species.

knowledge and commitment of attendees at the congress. The conservation theme of the congress fitted well with the ethos of my other enterprises and reinforced my ambition for the garden to contribute in some way to conservation. As we all know, Covid struck in force here in Australasia in March 2020 and my ecotourism business was forced to a grinding halt. International clients form 80% of our business, so it was time to become more inventive. The unexpected downtime from my usual tourism focus provided the opportunity for me to turn my full attention to the garden and make some further decisions regarding the best way to prioritise our conservation focus. During this period, the garden joined Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens and the International Association of Botanic Gardens (IABG). I was also inspired by the Tropical Mountain Plant Science (TroMPS) and ex situ Conservation Project, a collaboration between the Australian Tropical Herbarium (ATH), the Australian National Botanic Garden Canberra, Australian Rhododendron Society (Victoria), Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Cairns Botanic Garden, Earthwatch, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Royal Botanic Garden and Domain Trust (Sydney), Western Yalanji (and other indigenous groups) and the Wet Tropics Management Authority. This project focusses on establishing ex situ collections of Far North Queensland cloud forest plants, encompassing a broad range of endemic flora, including relicts of Gondwanan species of flowering plants, conifers, ferns, mosses and other non-flowering taxa. Climate modelling predicts these peaks will become hotter with far less reliable precipitation. Given that these target species occur nowhere else on earth, establishing secure, genetically diverse populations in botanic gardens in ex situ holdings is crucial. Such exciting and valuable plant conservation initiatives are a perfect fit for the conservation focus of the garden and we are proud to be involved in the project.




In November 2020 I applied for a grant offered by the Global Genome Initiative for Gardens (GGI-Gardens) and the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) which was administered through BGCI. The grant’s aim was to support activities to preserve Earth’s genomic biodiversity of plants through sampling of living collections maintained at botanic gardens around the world. As I researched the criteria for the grant, I realized that we had over 100 species of paleoendemic Tasmanian and other under-represented taxa in the garden’s living collection that are currently missing from the Global Genome Biodiversity and Genetic Sequences databases. This enabled the garden to be selected as one of the 14 successful botanic gardens and arboreta from nine countries around the world. Inala team member Dr Catherine Young is assisting me in collecting genetic samples and preparing voucher herbarium specimens which will be lodged and stored in perpetuity in the Tasmanian Herbarium near Hobart for use by researchers from around the globe (Fig. 9). We are excited and proud to help build capacity and provide resources for global plant biodiversity genomics research and

Figure 9. Catherine Young and Tonia Cochran preparing voucher specimens for the GGI‑Gardens and USBG-funded award administered through BGCI.

to support conservation and preservation programs through our small garden. This project aligns well with our other conservation-based work through our not-for-profit organisation the Inala Foundation and our ecotourism enterprise. Throughout the process I have been lucky to have the help of a good team, including the Inala property manager ‘Bori’, who spends much of his time in the garden planting and mulching, Brad who mows and takes photographic records of the plants and Jude, a retired arborist who kindly donates her time and considerable pruning skills. I am also grateful for the help of our volunteer weeders who have been of invaluable assistance in keeping the garden looking great, which is so important for a garden that is open to the public and especially important now that the main source of funding from the garden − my ecotourism business − is facing Covid-related challenges. Besides its aesthetic appeal and educational value, the garden is hopefully also of use as a repository for seedstock and threatened species with the aim of holding insurance specimens and sharing material with researchers and other botanic gardens around Australasia. I would welcome collaboration with interested BGANZ members so please don’t hesitate to contact me at



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Miracle on Black Mountain – A History of the Australian National Botanic Gardens by Don Beer Book review by Neville Page, President, Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens

Associate Professor Don Beer taught history at the University of New England from 1964 to 1998. Upon retirement he moved to Canberra and became a member of the Friends of the Australian

Neville Page

National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), a Friends Council Member and Convenor of the gardens’ Volunteer Guides. He has written several books, including a history of Sir Allan Napier MacNab (1798–1862), a Canadian political leader. Don Beer is therefore well qualified to write a history of our very own ANBG. The ANBG was officially opened in October 1970 by Prime Minister John Gorton. But Don Beer’s book covers a much longer period than the past 50 years: the book dates to the very first days of Canberra, when Walter Burley Griffin’s winning plan for the National Capital in fact mentioned ‘botanical gardens’. This long span of history is one of the reasons Don Beer’s book makes fascinating reading. Many of the formative events impacting on the ANBG’s history occurred when it was part of the Parks and Gardens section of the Department of the Interior, and well before 1970. The book is written in six parts. The first part chronicles the so-called Foundation Document: the Dickson Report of 1935, followed by the Lindsay Pryor Years, 1944 to 1959. Lindsay Pryor was succeeded by his deputy, David Shoobridge and part two covers the Shoobridge years (1959 to 1975), including the ’golden years’ of 1971 to 1975. The Robert Boden years of 1979 to 1989 are comprehensively described in part four. Don Beer doesn’t shy away from the fact that over its history the gardens have experienced many ups and downs. Part three is entitled Conflict and Consolidation, 1976 to 1979 and describes differences of opinion on the role of the gardens, financial stringency, and involvement of the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC).



Part five is entitled The ANBG in Hard Times, 1989 to 2009. Here we learn about the frustrations of declining support in certain areas, cutbacks in federal funding, and attempts from some quarters to make the gardens a suburban park. The ’hard times‘, however, were not devoid of positive events. Creation of the Friends of the Gardens in 1990, and establishment of the Volunteer Guides in 1992, contributed significantly to the gardens’ interaction with the public, and growing public support. Miracle on Black Mountain is a well-researched and comprehensive history of the ANBG from the early 20th century to the present time. It uncovers many stories which have become buried with the passing of time, but are worthwhile to know. Statements by public figures and events affecting the gardens have been meticulously verified with detailed and accurate endnotes. The detailed endnotes allow readers to follow up stories of particular interest via source documents. It is clear that Don Beer has spent many thousands of hours searching through library documents and government archives in compiling this book. To my mind, Miracle on Black Mountain is a significant and valuable contribution to our knowledge of the gardens. The book is available from the Botanical Bookshop at the ANBG. A Friends discount is available at the bookshop, and postage within Australia is an additional $10. Miracle on Black Mountain – A History of the Australian National Botanic Gardens by Don Beer is published by Halstead Press (2020) with a RRP of $28.00. A version of this article was originally published in Fronds, Number 96, December 2020, p. 14.

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Plants of Subtropical Eastern Australia by Andrew Benwell and Australian Rainforest Seeds by Mark Dunphy, Steve McAlpin, Paul Nelson and Michelle Chapman Book reviews by phill Parsons, President, The Tasmanian Arboretum Inc. Rainforests attract admirers, supporters and propagators. On a world scale they are under threat from many human processes so understanding them can help with their conservation and restoration. The first publication, Plants of Subtropical Eastern Australia, assists in expanding our knowledge about these plants, including the adjoining biomes. The second describes how to collect, process and propagate Australian rainforest seeds. Eastern Australia has swampy, dry, humid and cool areas. Author Andrew Benwell has 40 years’ experience with this region, enabling him to describe its salient factors and cover each of the major biomes. Within each section of the book many individual species are described, including their common and botanical names, their distribution and notes about habits. Exotic weeds are also included. In the book on seeds, four authors have contributed their 30 years of research to this invaluable guide, including directions on storage. The photographs are by Hugh Nicholson, an early pioneer in growing Australian rainforest plants. In the user-friendly A-to-Z species guide, there is a short description of the fruit and seed, the interval between fruiting (such as annual, regular, sporadic) and the time of year in which fruiting occurs, when to collect the seeds, how to store and treat the seeds to ensure germination success, the time taken to germinate and the period the seedlings can be held. A few rainforest plants produce recalcitrant seeds and so are not amenable to dry storage but can be held as seedlings. Indeed, in a rainforest, this is the process where some seedlings wait years for an opportunity to make their way into the light.



Both books are a worthwhile read for anyone interested in native plants and are published by CSIRO Publishing (2020) with a RRP of $49.99. Plants of Subtropical Eastern Australia by Andrew Benwell: Australian Rainforest Seeds by Mark Dunphy, Steve McAlpin, Paul Nelson and Michelle Chapman:

A review of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens children’s activity trail and booklet Michelle Pacey, mother, teacher and Education Officer at Bundaberg Regional Galleries I have two daughters and we absolutely loved our morning exploring the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens with the activity trail booklet. The map in the booklet is easy to read and helped us find the plants or features that were linked with activities in the book. The trail is well planned and well-paced, with the 20 activities located around the main lagoon in the gardens. The short travel distances between featured activities were a blessing for the less patient members of our group! Each activity in the booklet is suitable for all age groups and provided fantastic opportunities to have a chat with the kids about what they were seeing. I also loved the mix of whole-body activities that asked the kids to listen, look and move, as well as the sneaky, hidden literacy and numeracy activities that incorporated measurement, mapping and codebreaking. Overall, this was an excellent activity for my group – I’d give it a 5-star rating (out of 5)! The kids’ activity trail booklet.




Regional botanic gardens records management system – welcoming Botanical Software Tex (Terence) Moon, Ranger Team Leader, Dandenong Ranges Gardens

BGANZ negotiates great deal for members Two years ago, a BGANZ working group embarked on a journey to find a suitable plant records management system to provide to member gardens. The objective of the project was to be able to

Tex Moon

give members access to a plant records management solution that is robust, reliable, secure and accessible, with optimised performance to meet the current and future needs and demands of regional botanic gardens. After a long and thorough EOI and tender process I am happy to announce Botanical Software as the successful tenderer. The product developed by Botanical Software is called Hortis. It is cloud‑based, user-centric and adopts a mobile-first philosophy. The system is primarily designed to be used in the field, and to be interactive and intuitive with multiple levels of access and details that are typically accessed by dropdown/expandable menus. Input is validated at the time of entry and can be used in areas with and without mobile phone coverage. It was judged to be the sort of system that a moderately competent user of a mobile phone could use with a limited amount of training. The evaluation team was particularly impressed with the customer/user focus of Botanical Software, their organisational capacity (in partnership with the Candide group) and their general understanding and experience of collections management.

Great BGANZ deal for all members Botanical Software’s costing model works on a pay-per-service model with the choice of monthly or annual plans (like a phone plan). BGANZ has negotiated a BGANZ member discount.



All members, on signing up to the lowest plan, will be allocated 20 Billable User days per month. This will be doubled in the first year of registration, provided members sign up any time in the next four years, commencing 1 July 2021. It is expected that most gardens will sign up to a base annual plan of $972 per year ($81 per month). This plan allows for 20 billable user days (BUDS) per month (240 BUDS per year), which equates to one person working on the system full time. Note that read-only (searching) access is free. Botanical Software are currently running Hortis information sessions for BGANZ members, so if you haven’t already logged on to one, check the BGANZ website for session times. More information will be coming out in the coming months as to how to get involved in this exciting BGANZ initiative so keep an eye on the newsletter updates and website. We very much look forward to working with Botanical Software to roll out this system to the BGANZ membership. I would like to personally thank everyone who has helped get this project to this exciting point, BCARM and the BGANZ council and all of those who have helped on the working group and evaluation panels: Emma Bodley, Sheree Parker, Benedict Lyte, Grant Cameron, Donna Thomas, Prue McGruther, David Cash, Jill Grant, Lindy Harris and Eamonn Flanagan. For more information, please see



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Biosecurity 101 for botanic gardens David Gale, Plant Health Australia

What is biosecurity? Plant biosecurity refers to the actions that individuals, industries, governments and others take to keep exotic plant pests and

David Gale

diseases from entering, and established pests from moving around, Australia. The goal of plant biosecurity is to keep plants, including those in botanic gardens, healthy and productive. Biosecurity has played a critical role in reducing risk and ensuring our nation remains free from some of the world’s most damaging plant pests and diseases. This is vital as exotic plant pests can damage our natural environment, destroy our food production and agriculture industries, and in some cases even change our way of life.

Australia’s biosecurity system Australia’s biosecurity system relies on a collaborative effort and coordination of activities between federal and state governments, industry and the broader community. The key components of our biosecurity system are surveillance, monitoring and control activities offshore, at the border and onshore to protect our country from exotic plant pests and diseases. While Australia has a world-class biosecurity system, if international trade and people movement occur, there will always be the risk that new plant pests will enter the country. Pests can also spread to Australia through natural pathways, such as wind and water currents. Plant Health Australia (PHA) is the national coordinator of the government–industry partnership for plant biosecurity in Australia responsible for facilitating partnerships, driving action to improve policy, practice and performance of the plant biosecurity system.

The role of botanic gardens in protecting plant health The living plant collections found within botanic gardens and arboreta are a unique resource that can provide vital information regarding plant health. Australia has over 150 botanic gardens and



PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS arboreta that are spread all around the country. These botanic gardens and arboreta hold a range of native flora, exotic species from all over the world and relatives of commercial crop species. Due to the way in which the living collections in botanic gardens are organised and the movement of staff and visitors, botanic gardens and arboreta are especially vulnerable to the impact of invasive plant pests and diseases. Botanic gardens and arboreta are visited by millions of people each year creating a risk of new pests or diseases entering on clothing or footwear. Botanic gardens will often have biosecurity policies and procedures to ensure that activities within the gardens will not affect the plant collections or the wider environment. Careful planning, preparation and management of plant material, good record keeping and robust procedures can help safeguard biodiversity and avoid serious environmental and economic impact. This risk, in combination with the diverse range of plants in botanic gardens, provides a unique tool in detecting and responding to plant pests.

What is a plant pest? In general, a plant pest is any species, strain or biotype of invertebrate pest or pathogen which harms plants, plant products or bees, or impacts social amenities or the environment. Plant pests may be exotic (not currently in Australia) or established (present in Australia). Plant pests are grouped in a variety of ways to work out which need to be targeted. For example: • High Priority Pests are pests identified as posing the greatest risk to a plant industry. Their overall risk is assessed based on the pest’s risk of entering, establishing and spreading in Australia as well as the potential economic impact. More information about high priority pests of specific industries is available on the PHA website ( • National Priority Plant Pests are pests that have been identified by the chief plant health managers of each state and territory, together with the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer, as priority pests that are either exotic to Australia, under eradication, or have limited distribution within Australia. Currently, Australia’s number one National Priority Plant Pest is Xylella fastidiosa, an invasive bacterial pathogen.

Surveillance opportunities in botanic gardens Staff and volunteers that work in the gardens are knowledgeable and passionate people, who with training and awareness of current threats can become additional ‘eyes and ears’ for the first detection of plant pests and diseases. Those who work within botanical gardens generally



care about safeguarding not only the plants they work with, but plant species in the wider environment. Staff and volunteers work with plants in the collections daily and can recognise, monitor and record changes in plant health quickly and accurately.

What should you do if you think you have found a new plant pest? If you find an unusual plant pest or disease, call the national Exotic Plant Pest hotline (1800 084 881). When you call the hotline, you can select the state or territory you are in. You will be connected to an experienced person in the relevant authority for that jurisdiction. During your call they may ask you: • What did you see? (As well as describing what you saw it is helpful if you have a photo you can send through.) • When did you first notice it? • Where did you find it and what was it on? • How many were there or how infected was the plant? • How widely spread is it? Every report to the hotline will be taken seriously, checked out and treated confidentially. More information about other ways to report in each state and the operating hours for the hotline are available on the PHA website.

Three simple things you can do to reduce your risk 1. Clean your shoes Dirty shoes are a biosecurity risk as they can carry and spread pests and diseases. A simple way to manage this risk is to make sure that you thoroughly wash and disinfect footwear when moving between different plant growing areas. This includes traveling between gardens and venturing in and out of wilderness areas.



Use these three steps to prevent carrying plant pests and diseases on your shoes: • Check for any source of contamination like soil, mud, water or plant material. • Clean footwear with a brush to remove debris, and then wash with water to remove all visible plant material and soil. • Disinfect footwear using a footbath or spray bottle containing a disinfecting solution. Further information on shoe cleaning can be found on the Farm Biosecurity website (farmbiosecurity. including an article about making your own footbath. Although originally intended for producers, it is a great resource for understanding how to implement this practice.

2. Check restrictions on plant and plant product imports Think twice before bringing plants or plant products into Australia. Plant products include any goods that contain ingredients or components of plant origin including wooden or bamboo articles, cut flowers and foliage, horticultural produce and other plant-derived food, pet food and stock feed. Before importing, check for any restrictions that may apply to avoid goods being confiscated, a costly fine or even prosecution. Australia’s Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) outlines all import conditions for bringing goods into Australia. If you are intending to import plants or plant products, you should search BICON to find out: • whether the goods you wish to import are permitted • which country or countries the goods are permitted to be imported from • whether an import permit is required • what documentation, treatment, inspection and other requirements there are for the goods. If you are receiving goods from overseas remember to check parcels for any hitchhiking pests such as brown marmorated stink bug. If you receive a package that has live bugs inside you need to take immediate action. Re‑seal the box or package to prevent bugs escaping. If bugs have already escaped, try to catch them and put them in a sealed container. Then call the national Exotic Plant Pest hotline (1800 084 881). 58


PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS 3. Know state and territory movement restrictions There is also a risk of spreading pest and disease into pest-free areas within Australia. Australia has rules and regulations about the movement of goods between states, or within states. There are also biosecurity or quarantine zones within each state and territory to limit the spread of pests that are localised to that area. It’s always good to check any restrictions that might apply to your trip. You can check restrictions by: • downloading a copy of Australian Interstate Quarantine: A traveller’s guide • using the map search on the Australian Interstate Quarantine website ( • reading about the biosecurity or quarantine zones within states and territories • ringing 1800 084 881 during business hours.

Bundaberg Botanic Gardens The Bundaberg Botanic Gardens welcomes you! To experience nature no matter your view. From the Figtree chapel to the Bunya pine, You will find something quite ordinary or exquisitely sublime. If bromeliads float your boat, Giant Red, the Heliconia, will seal your vote. Jade vine, rare fruit orchard, the Ylang Ylang tree, Wow! So much to see. Isis tamarind, Fraser Island vine, Bismarck palms; Stroll through the woodland to appreciate its sclerophyll charms. Banksia, bamboo, birds nest fern, So many, many plant species to discern. Succulent, fern, palm and pine, Tree, shrub, fruit and vine. The Bundaberg Botanic Gardens has it all, Plan a visit soon, you’ll have a ball! Written by: Nicola, a patient mother


Fraser Island Vine.



Mapping the plant world one snap at a time Sam Moon, Marketing and Communications Manager, BGANZ In December 2020, BGANZ joined forces with PlantSnap and BGCI, alongside the American Public Gardens Association, on PlantSnap’s Global Citizen Science Initiative. The initiative seeks to engage gardens and citizen scientists across the globe in mapping the world’s plant species through the largest opensource database of geolocated plant photos. Dubbed ‘Shazam’ for plants, PlantSnap in its simplest form is a

Sam Moon

plant identification app. With over 650,000 plants already in a searchable open-source database, translated into 37 languages, the PlantSnap mobile app uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to gather data from users, currently identifying over 103,000 types of plants worldwide. Until recently, plant species, as well as subspecies, hybrids or varietals, across Australia and New Zealand were under-represented in the PlantSnap app, with most native plants in both regions unable to be identified by the app’s AI. Since February 2021, BGANZ has actively worked on a project with member gardens across Australia and New Zealand to improve the app’s AI in identifying regional plants. In working with the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Auckland Botanic Gardens and Wellington Botanic Gardens, we have been able to significantly improve the app’s identification capabilities over what has been a short timeframe. Plant lists and image data contributed by the gardens were instrumental in training the app to recognise some of our Australian and New Zealand plant species. We are excited to see the impact of the app’s improved capacity in identifying plants across our region as more Australian and New Zealand gardens engage at the ground level with visitors and/or contribute plant data to training the PlantSnap mobile app over time. On the ground, gardens have the potential to engage staff and visitors to grow the app’s identification capabilities by actively and directly engaging their visitors to become citizen scientists.



By simply downloading the app and snapping photos at the garden, visitors can play an active and engaged role in your garden’s initiatives. These include assisting with geomapping collections, growing your plant image database, building a useful education resource, or adding a plant identification tool to allow visitors to learn about unlabelled plants and receive detailed information about the plant’s taxonomy and habitat. At the same time, your citizen scientists will be helping build your garden’s resilience and contributing to local and global plant conservation. Encouraging as many garden visitors as possible to download the app and snap away in and beyond the gardens, for example, snapping wild native plants, naturalised weeds, and home garden plants, can add to data collection for environmental monitoring or scientific research. This creates the opportunity to use the app not just as an identification tool but to track changes in flowering time and plant movements (such as range reductions and weed spread). Alongside partners like BGANZ, BGCI and the American Public Gardens Association, PlantSnap’s citizen scientist initiative will help in mapping and tracking plants for future conservation projects and scientific research globally. If that is not enough, through the PlantSnap dashboard gardens can access and download PlantSnap’s data for a variety of purposes. Though the dashboard-gardens can also add unique information to PlantSnap about the plants held in their living collections, creating an excellent nature reference source, and a new level of immersion and education (recommended for ages 9+). The PlantSnap app is not designed or intended to replace expert knowledge. It has been developed as a conduit between botanists, horticulturalists and those who wish to learn about plants and obtain detailed information about the plant’s taxonomy, habitat and uses. PlantSnap is a simple, fun and interactive experience that can engage and inspire people of all ages to develop a stronger connection to plants in their everyday lives, either at the gardens or beyond! For more information about the project, please see the FAQ sheet, To find out how you can get involved, visit

BGANZ will receive revenue from EVERY Plantsnap download (free or paid) in Australia and New Zealand. The revenue generated by this partnership will assist in funding plant initiatives with member gardens. Furthermore, every download of the app will provide funds towards BGCI’s Global Botanic Garden Fund, which aims to drive plant conservation in botanic gardens by providing grants to small botanic gardens in developing countries and biodiversity hotspots.




175 years of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Tanya Hendy, Communications and Media Coordinator, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

This year marks the 175th anniversary of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV). Since 1846, this iconic organisation, comprising two magnificent gardens, has contributed to the health of the community and natural environment through scientific and horticultural leadership, conservation and world-class programming and education.

Tanya Hendy

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful botanic gardens. Picturesque vistas across lakes and sweeping lawns are punctuated with magnificent specimen trees and intricately detailed garden beds, providing a cool oasis and iconic setting in the heart of Melbourne. In the preceding 40,000 years, the site was a significant meeting place for Aboriginal people, with its abundant source of food and materials. This history still informs the gardens’ storytelling through indigenous plant collections, Aboriginal Bush Food and Aboriginal Heritage Walks. In recent years, RBGV has grown as part of Melbourne cultural life. Fire Gardens attracted around 30,000 people in 2018, and the gardens continue to develop new creative ways to engage people with its landscapes. The new Arid Garden, Sensory Garden and White Oak installation have all stretched the concept of what a botanic garden usually does. Today, the gardens are more than a beautiful park and more than a scientific organisation – after 175 years, the organisation is combining nature, culture and science in ways never done before.


Minister D’Ambrosio, Professor Tim Entwisle, and Nina Taylor MP cutting the ribbon to officially launch 175th celebrations.


Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, a 363-hectare site established in 1973, is home to some of Victoria’s most valuable remnant bushland and the jaw-dropping Red Sand Garden. It is dedicated to native Australian plants and wildlife including the nationally endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot. Yet, these gardens are not just a place of respite for locals and international visitors. Melbourne Gardens is home to the National Herbarium of Victoria which houses the irreplaceable State Botanical Collection of 1.5 million botanic specimens. It includes collections by Charles Darwin and early explorers, the oldest dating back to the 1600s, as well as a living collection of over 8,500 plant species. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is also known as a leader in botanic conservation and climate change mitigation and employs scientists who are world leaders in these fields. In 2018, the organisation established the world’s first Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens, which today has over 322 members from 92 countries. Its horticultural and scientific teams, through research and initiatives such as the Orchid Conservation Program, Care for the Rare and Raising Rarity have saved rare and threatened plants. The organisation continues to care for and build the Victorian Conservation Seedbank, which safeguards against plant extinction, and has been used to replenish bushfire affected areas.

Timeline Pre-1846: The site of Melbourne Gardens and area around Birrarung (the Yarra River) and Tromgin (the Aboriginal name for the gardens’ lagoon) was part of the traditional lands of the Aboriginal peoples for over 40,000 years. It was an abundant source of food and other important material for Aboriginal people. 1835: Melbourne was founded. 1846: Superintendent Charles La Trobe selected the current Melbourne site as appropriate for a botanic garden. 1846−1857: Developments were made to the site including planting, fencing, constructing paths and residences. The gardens became a focal point for socialising, recreation, public celebrations and charity functions. 1857: Government Botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller was promoted to the role of Director of the Botanic Gardens. Scientific pursuits were of more interest to Mueller than the aesthetics of landscapes, and due to public demand, he was asked to resign. 1863: Melbourne Observatory began carrying out important scientific research. • 1869: It acquired the Great Melbourne Telescope, the largest fully steerable telescope in the world.



• 1932: Closed due to the Great Depression. The Great Melbourne Telescope was moved to Mount Stromlo in 1945 and suffered damage in the 2003 bushfires. Currently being restored, the aim is to return the telescope back to the gardens in 2023–2025. 1873−1909: William Guilfoyle became the new Director. He made many aesthetically pleasing changes to the landscapes, without taking focus from scientific pursuits. Guilfoyle’s design framework has endured under successive directors and defines the character of the gardens to this day. 1909−1957: A time of relative stability for the gardens, with directors faithfully maintaining the inherited design.

Floral 175 numbers floating on the lake at Guilfoyle’s Volcano.

• 1934: The current building to house the National Herbarium of Victoria was built to continue important scientific work and house plant specimens. • 1958: The Royal prefix was added after a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. 1957−1992: Guilfoyle’s landscape framework remained largely intact, although maturing trees, modernisation, ad hoc development and shifting expectations of the landscape resulted in some changes to its overall character. • 1973: Cranbourne Gardens established, 363-hectare site of native Australian plants and remnant bushland. • 1987–1989: First production of Shakespeare in the Gardens and Wind in the Willows. • 1994: Moonlight Cinema’s first screening at the gardens. 1992−2020: Many new developments at Melbourne Gardens have occurred in the last 28 years. For example: • 1999: Observatory Gate built with Visitor Centre, café and shop. • 2004: The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden opened. • 2015: Fern Gully restored and bats relocated to Yarra Bend. • 2018: RBGV establishes the first world’s Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens. • 2020: Master Plan 2020–2040 to guide the gardens’ future development. New Sensory and Arid Gardens opened as first projects within the plan.




The Botanical Gardens I go often to the gardens, a favourite place for me, I enjoy the varied flora, be it hedges, shrub or tree. I love the names of various palms, like Foxtail, Sago, Cook, And the plants from all around the world, which could surely fill a book. Bamboos, Crotons, Bottlebrush, and the regal Bunya Pine – And who amongst us hasn’t walked ‘neath the quaint Sandpaper Vine? And Polyalthia longifolia is quite amazing to my eye – (The Mast Tree is its common name) and it’s easy to see why. The Gauras in their garden beds look much like butterflies, And Bromeliads throughout the park will amaze you with their size. Some trees we know, we have at home, the well-known Lilly Pilly, And too, the keener gardeners will grow the Spider Lily. And for a show of colour, there are few plants that are “ritzier”, Than the lovely Bird of Paradise, which we also call Strelitzia. The range of plants is staggering, the amount would make you dizzy – From the Straw Tree Fern to Kapok Tree, to the humble “Busy Lizzie”. I have only listed seventeen plants, and for that I beg your pardon – But I have a little question to the ‘Boss’ who runs the garden. I love the gardens, always will, and I would like to say, “Just how much would I have to pay, to work here every day?!” Written by: Rod, retiree

Bromeliad, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.




A retrospective − 20 years at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra Dave Taylor, recently retired Curator, Living Collection, Australian National Botanic Gardens For many years before I started work at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), I would regularly visit and ‘wander the grounds’, being inspired and intrigued at the extensive and diverse collection of Australian plants. Each visit brought new discoveries and delights. It was not until I started working at the ANBG in 1999, however, that I really became aware of the significance and

Dave Taylor

value of the living collection, and more broadly, the ANBG. I soon picked up that this, together with the amazing specialists and dedicated work behind the scenes, is what makes it such a special place. The more I learned about and worked with the collection and its custodians, the more I recognised it as a truly unique piece of our natural capital. What was a real eye opener was the continuous, dedicated effort by many throughout the history of the ANBG to capture and link the collecting and securing of living collections and seed to their origin, and accessible information. This has ensured the collection is a useful and readily accessible reference for education, research, conservation and history. Today it remains a priority, with constant collaboration to improve the systems, protocols and priorities. Having the fortune to be involved in a range of roles over the last 20 years also allowed me the privilege of working with a diverse group of people who are tremendously dedicated and passionate specialists. Being able to be part of a team that would typically celebrate the collective effort to make a difference, which extended to our many partners outside the ANBG, has been a particular highlight for me. This approach has really developed into a strong cultural ethos here at the ANBG, with many new initiatives and priorities now often starting with: ‘Who can we collaborate with to enhance what we are doing?’ We typically follow through with: ‘How can we share what we are doing with a wider audience and, more broadly, how can we better engage people with our wonderful 66


and unique plant world?’ This connection to the land through a plant-focused lens can influence people to become more aware of, support, and even become advocates for botanic gardens and the work we all do as custodians of our plant biodiversity and its connection to the life systems that support our planet. After all, we are all in this together! The last 10 years as curator has been a real highlight for me, as we have been able to take this collaborative approach to new levels. It has enabled the development of a program that includes numerous conservation and threatened species partnerships and has targeted the securing of valuable external resources and funding. This now forms a big part of our work program and contributes to the ANBG’s conservation priorities as well as securing valuable ex-situ collections for some of our most at-risk flora. Many such projects have resulted in new discoveries and new knowledge. What is exciting for me is that these collaborative projects pave the way for such examples to be used as a model for other priority plant species.

It has enabled the development of a program that includes numerous conservation and threatened species partnerships and has targeted the securing of valuable external resources and funding. On a completely different note, the landscape at the ANBG became a particular obsession for me. One of the elements I have really enjoyed working on with colleagues is refining the ways we tackle the challenges and opportunities of assembling, refining and editing such an extensive and diverse living collection into the landscape. In so doing, we introduce new and diverse ways to display plants and landscape without taking away the strong and memorable remnant backdrop. Whenever we took on a new garden development or edited an existing one, the conversation would focus on narrative and purpose first to try and determine how to best use the plants, materials interpretation and design to make the area more engaging. This kind of thinking has evolved into section management plan templates that provide a framework for section curators to then invest their ownership, experience and skills to develop and enhance their areas, rather than just the collection of plants within a section. All the above reflects what is a very special place, a place overflowing with uniqueness and diversity and an endless source of discovery, the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Little did I realise where this journey would take me, and what a privilege it turned out to be to work in such a special place. More than 20 years on I am still inspired by the plants and people I have worked with and no doubt I will retain many valuable connections as coming full circle, I will again ‘wander the grounds’ and enjoy seeing the story of the ANBG continue to unfold. Regards, Dave



Calendar of conferences and events Date change: 7th Global Botanic Gardens Conference now September 2022. Due to the global impacts of COVID-19, we are moving 7GBGC to the Australian spring. Join us in Melbourne, 26 – 30 September 2022, the perfect time to visit Victoria. More

8th Global Botanic Gardens Conference 2024. Host wanted. BGCI is inviting Expressions of Interest from botanic gardens or arboreta interested in hosting the 8th Global Botanic Gardens Congress in 2024. The Global Botanic Gardens Congress, held once every three years, is traditionally hosted by a BGCI botanic garden member, with Congress activities centred around the host botanic garden. For more BGCI Conference Details – For more American Conference Details –