THE BOTANIC GARDENer SUMMER 2021 – Collections, Curation, Collaboration

Page 1

THE BOTANIC GARDENer The magazine for botanic garden professionals

Theme: Collections, Curation, Collaboration – the living heart of botanic gardens ISSN 1446-2044 |


57 SUMMER 2021

Editorial Committee REBECCA HARCOURT Managing Editor

CONTENTS 2 President’s view Chris Russell, BGANZ President

DALE ARVIDSSON Curator, Brisbane Botanic Gardens

4 Editorial Insights

ALAN MATCHETT Botanic Garden Manager, Dunedin Botanic Garden

Feature Interview

TOM McCARTER Wildlife Garden Manager, The Natural History Museum, London

Rebecca Harcourt, Managing Editor

6 A champion of collaboration and conservation John Arnott, Manager Horticulture, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Cranbourne Gardens

Feature Garden

JANET O’HEHIR Vice-President, Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Trust Inc.

16 Wollongong Botanic Garden: the gift of foresight, legacy and connection

EAMONN FLANAGAN Chief Executive Officer, BGANZ

Feature Articles

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:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY: BGANZ acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to Elders both past, present and emerging. COVER: Day 4 – The Seed Collecting Group assessing floral species on Pelion East, with views out towards Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak. Photo: Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

Daniel Bishop, Curator, Wollongong Botanic Garden and James Beattie, Living Collections Curator

24 An exciting new garden for plants endemic to the Grampians Neil R Marriott, Flora Team Leader, The WAMA Foundation Botanic Gardens

28 Best practice guidelines a win for collaboration Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson, ANPC Project Manager (Germplasm Guidelines) The Australian Network for Plant Conservation and The Australian PlantBank, Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

33 Taking the high road for seed conservation Lorraine Perrins, Curator, Conservation and Sub Antarctic Flora, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

39 The ‘Cloud Forest’ of Cranbourne Owen Janusauskas, Horticulturist, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Pollinating Great Ideas 45 Ex situ conservation of the Macquarie Cushion Azorella macquariensis – celebrating the success of cross agency collaborations Lorraine Perrins, Curator, Conservation Collections & Sub Antarctic Flora, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

48 It takes a village − the collaborative effort to conserve threatened species Zoe Knapp and Kathryn Scobie, Australian National Botanic Gardens

51 Increasing the genetic biodiversity of a rare rainforest tree Peter Gould and Marie Matthews, Friends of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021

The Hort. Section 54 Calling all horticulturalists, horticulturists and horticultists Bryn Hutchinson, editor, Hort. Section

55 Horticulturally decolonising botanic gardens Bryn Hutchinson, editor, Hort. Section

Notes From the Nursery 59 Notes from the Nursery, an introduction Matthew Nicholson, Horticulturist

60 Friends and staff of Wollongong Botanic Garden working together Helen Moon, former president, Friends of Wollongong Botanic Garden

61 A website for growing Illawarra natives Leon Fuller, author and horticulturist and Emma Rooksby, gardener and bush regenerator

Botanic Gardens Day 2021 64 ‘Flora, Fauna, Funga!’ – The Power of Plants Sam Moon, BGANZ Marketing and Communications Officer

Professional Networks 68 BCARM and carry on with your living collections! Emma Bodley, Botanical Records & Conservation Officer, Auckland Botanic Gardens and Convenor of BCARM

69 Botanic Gardens Engagement Network (BGEN) Ben Liu, Creative Producer, Learning and Participation, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

70 Protecting Australia’s botanic gardens from pests and diseases Plant Health Australia

73 Regional botanic gardens record management system – Hortis Terence (Tex) Moon, Ranger Team Leader, Dandenong Ranges Gardens

What’s New? 76 Botanic news: from home and abroad

Conferences 81 Australasian Seed Science Conference 2021: Linking seeds with needs; securing our future in a changing world

The theme of the next edition of The BOTANIC GARDENer is What’s new in your botanic garden. The deadline for contributions is 11 April 2022. Please contact the Secretariat ( if you are intending to submit an article or have a contribution to other sections.

Dr Cath Offord, Principal Research Scientist, Australian PlantBank, Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan, Australian Institute of Botanical Science; Dr Sal Norton, Leader, Australian Grains Genebank, Agriculture Victoria; Dr Lydia Guja, Manager, National Seed Bank, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Damian Wrigley, National Coordinator, Australian Seed Bank Partnership



President’s view Chris Russell

Collections, Curation and Collaboration – the living heart of botanic gardens

Chris Russell

It has been a long haul for all, and while there are undoubtedly still challenges ahead, it is nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Many botanic gardens have seen an upsurge in visitation throughout the pandemic as communities seek the physical and spiritual upliftment that green spaces provide. This issue of THE BOTANIC GARDENer takes a closer look at the heart of our very special green spaces. We examine the living collections and their curation which underpins much of our contribution to plant conservation, and forms the fabric upon which our engagement, education and visitor experience is woven. As members of the network that makes up BGANZ, we have all recognised that we achieve more when we work together, so we will also explore that special ingredient of collaboration.

Global Botanic Gardens Congress Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and the international organising committee are full steam ahead with planning for the 7th Global Botanic Gardens Congress, which also encompasses the 10th BGANZ Congress, to be held in Melbourne on 25−29 September 2022. As the most significant international gathering of the botanic gardens community, our expectation is for strong attendance, especially with Australia moving towards freedom of movement locally and internationally over coming months. The website is currently being updated as we review the program framework to strengthen the education and engagement focus following the cancellation of the 11th International Congress in Education in Botanic Gardens, which was due to run in Buenos Aires in March 2022. Register your interest online via the website to receive notification of all the critical information and pop it in your diary now!

Update on BGANZ Constitution Change BGANZ Council has recently approved proposed constitution and governance changes to BGANZ as we continue our journey to become a stronger and more effective organisation better able to serve our members. Our next step is to hold an online information session for members, and to invite feedback on the changes being proposed. A Special General Meeting will be held early in the new year where endorsement of the changes will be proposed. Stay tuned for more information.



Plant records management The roll out of Hortis, the new plant records management system by Botanical Software, is gathering pace. Following an extensive tender process, BGANZ selected the system to provide members with a robust, reliable, affordable and user-friendly system. A working group has been established utilising a small number of gardens as initial garden test sites. Uploading of their current collections records is soon to commence. See the update from Tex Moon in this edition.

PlantSnap Due to circumstances beyond our control, the partnership with the plant identification app PlantSnap has been put on hold, as it has become clear that the required support for participating gardens has not been forthcoming. BGCI and BGANZ will continue to explore opportunities that enhance the accessibility of garden collections to a broader audience.

Distant, but close together A special shout out to our digital workshops’ initiators. COVID-19 and a geographically spread membership has presented challenges for many organisations, but I’m delighted to see the development of online workshops. BCARM, led by Emma Bodley, and BGEN, led by Ben Liu, are producing outstanding and inclusive content, which members and others are enjoying. John Arnott and a team from RBG Victoria held a virtual tour which was watched by over 3,500 viewers. Online engagement is an area that, given our membership’s wealth of knowledge and capabilities, has enabled BGANZ to take our member stories well beyond the garden gate.

Botanic Gardens Day 2022 Planning for next year’s Botanic Gardens Day activities is well under way. Our dedicated working group of Sam Moon (BGANZ comms) and Tim Uebergang (RBG Victoria), along with Alison Morgan (Wollongong BG), Raydeen Cuffe (Wellington BG), Emma Bodley (Auckland BG), John Arnott (RBG Victoria) and Helen McHugh (ANBG) is developing a range of activities, building on the success and learnings from previous events. We aim to commence activities early in the month leading into Botanic Gardens Day on Sunday 29 May 2022. Further details will be communicated to members prior to Christmas. Happy collecting, curating and collaborating! Stay well in nature. Chris



Editorial Insights Rebecca Harcourt, Managing Editor

My role as an editor, like the theme of this issue, involves collection, curation and collaboration. Collecting and curating the articles, while consulting and collaborating with the authors,

Rebecca Harcourt

other editors and the team at BGANZ, has reinforced my view that botanic gardens, and the people associated with them, are very special. These people include John Arnott, a well known botanic force of nature and the subject of this issue’s feature interview. John’s passion for and ongoing commitment to public botanic gardens and plant conservation is contagious. His many collaborations are a testament to this. One such collaboration is described by Owen Janusauskas in a feature article about the establishment of a living metacollection of at-risk Far North Queensland (FNQ) high mountain peak plant species. These plants, quite literally, have their heads in the clouds. This project, TroMPS (Tropical Mountain Plant Science Project), involves collaboration between seed banks and botanic gardens all along the east coast of Australia, including the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Cranbourne. Owen and others at Cranbourne are creating a ‘Cloud Forest’ garden with this unique plant collection, 2,800 kilometres outside its natural range. Another testament to collaboration is described by Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson in another feature article on the updated versions of three guidelines, known as the Germplasm, Florabank and Translocation Guidelines. These guidelines have input from more than a hundred contributors and reviewers and address genetic diversity, collection strategies, storage, propagation and plant return to the natural environment. While researching the article by Peter Gould and Marie Matthews of the Friends of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens (LRBG), I came across the cartoon below. It highlights the lack of genetic diversity in the rare and critically endangered Hairy Quandong Elaeocarpus williamsianus. The trees, which exist only in a few isolated stands in north-eastern NSW, are too closely related for effective cross pollination. The LRBG aims to plant a grove of genetically different trees, which will hopefully result in the production of viable seed. This article is also a reminder of the valuable contribution of the many Friends groups who volunteer their time in gardens across Australia. 4

Cartoon reprinted with the permission of Cathy Wilcox,


Most of the articles in this issue indicate to me that collection, curation and collaboration often (always?) go hand-in-hand. The articles cover a huge range of areas, both geographic and botanic, from the high cloud forests of FNQ, to shrubs on the far south coast of NSW, insectivorous plants on Tasmania’s Overland Track and cushion plants on the frozen ground of subantarctic Macquarie Island. The dedication and passion of the authors and the teams involved in these projects is evident and leaves me feeling inspired, and hopeful about the future of the many plant species discussed. Finally, I would like to welcome volunteers Bryn Hutchinson and Matthew Nicholson to the editorial team. Both are experienced horticulturalists, or horticulturists, or horticultists, as Bryn explains in his introductory article. Bryn brings some non-traditional ideas into the traditional Hort section while Matthew aims to highlight the importance of Friends, bushcare and landcare groups in a new section, Notes from the Nursery. 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 Happy reading! Rebecca

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




A champion of collaboration and conservation Rebecca Harcourt interviews John Arnott, Manager Horticulture at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Cranbourne Gardens

John has been involved in public botanic gardens as a horticulturalist since 1980, is a founding member of BGANZ and is heavily involved with the Care for the Rare program. John Arnott. Credit: Amy Akers.

John, where does your passion for plants come from? Vegetable gardening as a kid! When I was five, we moved to Melbourne from Scotland and grew veggies like everyone else in 1960s Australia. I recall digging potatoes and marvelling at their magnificence coming out of the sandy soil. We lived in an old farmer’s cottage in suburban Frankston, with a huge garden with mature Morton Bay figs, gingkos and lemon scented gums. It was almost like an arboretum. I had an inherent curiosity about nature and then there was this rich physical environment. I think this is where my passion for plants and gardening comes from.

You started your career in a zoo. How did this affect your views on plants and horticulture? I started at the Melbourne Zoo in 1980 as a young apprentice gardener. It was an environmentally barren place, with pits, concrete bars and cages. It was barbaric, however, Melbourne Zoo and zoos around the world were re-imagining the zoo experience through the advent of naturalistic enclosures where the resident animals are displayed in curated exhibits that aim to both provide environmental enrichment opportunities alongside the creation of immersive ‘natural’ settings. By the late 1980s a whole new horticultural discipline emerged, called zoological horticulture. Previously horticulture and animal husbandry had been two separate units. Horticulture was about ornamentation, gardens and floral beds, lawns and amenity, while animal husbandry was about animals in cages. This zoological horticulture movement brought those two things together. In 1985, for the first time at the Melbourne Zoo, and possibly for the first time globally, the success of a zoo exhibit – the butterfly house − was contingent on horticulturists. 6


We had to grow the larval food plants, a huge horticultural challenge as many of these larval plants had never been cultivated before. It was remarkable, and it revealed this world to me where horticulture is more than just ornamentation.

Possibly for the first time globally, the success of a zoo exhibit – the butterfly house − was contingent on horticulturists.

Article from The Melbourne Age, December 1992.

Is that where you became interested in conservation? Absolutely. The zoo was starting to talk about conservation of animal species and I thought, why doesn’t zoo horticulture include the conservation of plant species? Indeed, we did some really innovative things at the zoo around plant conservation. As an example, there’s a plant called Diuris fragrantissima, or Sunshine Diuris, an orchid, formally known as Snow in the Paddocks. Its natural range was several hundred square kilometres, just to the northwest of Melbourne. It was never widespread, but it was locally common, to the point where when it flowered it turned the paddocks white. Through processes such as agricultural displacement and urbanisation it rapidly declined to the point where it was restricted to one tiny reserve, which was wedged between two train lines in industrial western Melbourne. That’s the last place that this plant was surviving in nature. I just happened to know someone at La Trobe University nursery who gave us some plants that were recovered from that site as conservation holdings. We then witnessed an incredible pollination and germination event − the handful of plants was quite miraculously now an ex situ population of 600−800 individuals. We had 99.9% of the world population of this species sitting on a bench in a zoo in urban Melbourne! This bench was a kind of backstop to extinction of the species. It was extraordinary. That material has since supported the recovery of the species and it’s been translocated into a few secure reserves to the west of Melbourne. It was a serendipitous side project, very grass roots, but ultimately so successful the zoo built a glasshouse and it became part of the integrated conservation role of the zoo. It involved individuals collaborating as individuals but being supported by institutions, a theme I’ve seen repeated in successful conservation projects over the last 40 years. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021

The last known wild population of Diuris fragrantissima is located in this remnant grassland reserve along a section of rail line to the west of Melbourne. Credit: Noushka Reiter. 7

What role do you think botanic gardens have in conservation? There’s a term called integrated plant conservation, which is about using a whole range of different tools and techniques for conservation outcomes − in situ conservation, ex situ conservation, research and community education. Some of those might be out in the field, such as the conservation of species in situ, supporting them as self-sustaining populations that are dealing with threatening processes. In the integrated plant conservation tool kit, there’s a whole bunch of things that happen off site, and that’s where botanic gardens come in − the ex situ conservation role. It’s complementary and indeed necessary in some instances, for example, in the case of the orchid I talked about earlier. Since then, the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) has instituted a multiagency orchid conservation program and the Diuris is central to that. This program, driven by Noushka Reiter, is globally recognised as an exemplar species recovery program. In ex situ living collection holdings, we can understand a plant’s environmental tolerances, how to propagate it and what it requires to thrive and grow. You can learn a lot about a plant outside its natural range. Ex situ living collections also raise public awareness of threatened species. Raising Rarity is a project the RBGV is undertaking where we assess the home garden potential and the ornamental capacity of our threatened flora. The aim of the project is to make a range of suitable threatened plants available in commercial retail nurseries. There’s a sense of participating in plant conservation, but at the same time promoting an awareness of our threatened flora. The Wollemi Pine project is an absolute example of the benefits of conservation through cultivation. It’s taken a threatened species and commercialised it at the same time as communicating its inherent value and conservation significance, to the point where an entire country now values this plant.

The Wollemi Pine project is an absolute example of the benefits of conservation through cultivation. These ex situ living collection holdings are greatly enhanced with material of known wild origin and the conservation value of such holdings increases with representation of genetic diversity. You couldn’t just go to a single plant, take seed off it and clone it, because that will represent such a narrow slice of the genetic footprint of that particular species. Decent ex situ holdings are typically quite complex as they need to capture the genetic variations of the population. This is where the idea of meta collections comes in. For example, some of the taxa affected by myrtle rust are recalcitrant, with fleshy fruit that can’t be stored in fridges. They have to be held as living collections in ex situ holdings. An individual garden would struggle to hold the several hundred living plants necessary to represent the population, so the aim is to distribute this diversity around the network as multi-site collection holdings − a meta collection [see The ‘Cloud Forest’ of Cranbourne, as an example, in this issue].



FEATURE INTERVIEW The role of botanic gardens in conservation also includes long-term seed storage, such as the Seed Bank Partnership, in which all the states are participating in the long-term safe storage of threatened species and capturing those in ex situ holdings in fridges [see Australasian Seed Science Conference 2021 in this ssue, for the latest research in this area].

How have you seen the world of plants, and native plants, changing across your career? In 2000, after 20 years at the zoo, I took on the role of Director/Curator of the magnificent Geelong Botanic Gardens. My very first day at Geelong, 10 October 2000, coincided with the inaugural meeting of the Victorian Regional Botanic Gardens Network, which predated BGANZ. Our first task was to survey gardens in the Victorian network to see what collections they were holding. The 1860s and 70s had seen an incredible boom of botanical gardens in Victoria, because of the gold rush. It was about an expression of the maturity of these burgeoning communities, and so Victoria had this incredible spike in botanic gardens all based on the European model. In 1870 there were 20 regional botanic gardens in Victoria, compared with NSW, Tasmania and Queensland, with only one each. Wind the clock forward to 2000 and many of these gardens had legacy collections of European plants. Australian plants were not a feature. Our 2000–2001 survey found an absolute paucity of Australian local plants, let alone native plants, being cultivated across the broad network. In different states it was a very different scene because they didn’t necessarily have the same heritage legacy as in Victoria. We did another survey in 2019 to inform the botanic gardens record project that was seeded by BGANZ Vic. There were significant changes in terms of botanic gardens embracing an Australian native plant agenda and diversifying their collections beyond the legacy of history. Conservation collections had not however developed in Victorian regional botanic gardens to any great extent, which triggered the BGANZ Victoria Regional group to explore further and develop programs targeted to conservation outcomes for

Article from The Geelong Advertiser, Monday 30 January 2006.

the network.



FEATURE INTERVIEW You have been instrumental in the Care for the Rare program in Victoria. What is it and where could it go next? In the 1860s and 70s, botanic gardens in Victoria were more like pleasure parks; places of beauty and public amenity. Collections were developed, but not around taxonomy, science or conservation. They were essentially cultural collections. When the Victorian Regional Botanic Garden Network was established, it was clear that very few regional botanic gardens in Victoria saw themselves as playing a role in plant conservation. The main impediment to this was access to plant material. Essentially, the gardens were being managed as municipal parks. The idea of going into the field, collecting indigenous plants, bringing them back into cultivation and being able to provenance them was too hard. The Care for the Rare project, triggered in 2019, was essentially a sector capacity building project to support regional Victorian botanic gardens to get involved in plant conservation. RBGV applied to the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust to run a pilot project, with 24 of 42 gardens expressing interest in the program. The people involved in the project and selecting the pilot gardens were Justin Buckley from the National Trust, Donna Thomas from the Ballarat Botanic Gardens, Tex Moon from the Dandenong Ranges Garden, David Roberts from RBG Melbourne, Lindy Harris from the Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden, and me. The six gardens selected were representative of the broader botanic garden network in Victoria. We selected the Shepparton Botanic Gardens, which at that point was completely community‑driven. We also selected the Colac Botanic Gardens, which was one of those 1870s landscapes. Then, we chose Ballarat Botanic Garden with its huge horticultural capacity. Up until that point they’d been really famous for their begonias and for their European landscape. Wilson Botanic Park was also selected, which was an interesting emerging botanic garden in the same local government area as Cranbourne. Sale Botanic Garden, which had been completely transformed in first part of the 21st century, and the latter half of the 20th, was also selected. The final garden was the Dandenong Ranges Garden, which is our newest botanic garden. It was the former national rhododendron garden and is the only true alpine or cool climate garden in our network.


RBGV Landscape Architect Andrew Laidlaw designed the Sale Care for the Rare Garden including preparation of planting plans. The collection focused on showcasing the threatened flora from the Shire of Wellington. Credit: John Arnott.


We went to each of the gardens, consulted with the curators, staff and Friends and developed a conservation collection plan for each. The RBGV Cranbourne Gardens nursery then propagated the plants from the list we had created that responded to the conservation collection/plans. 192 rare and threatened Victorian taxa comprising 3,400 plants were sourced, propagated and produced at the RBGV Cranbourne Gardens Nursery and distributed to each garden. 192 taxa represent over 12% of the state’s threatened flora, now secured and held in conservation collections. A nice feature, in addition to building conservation collections in each of the six gardens, is that we engaged an interpretation consultant expert to assist each of the gardens in how to message each of the collections to their communities. We reserved some of the funding to support each of the gardens in developing an interpretation plan and having some interpretation collateral to activate each of the collections at each of the gardens. It’s really interesting that the Care for the Rare idea is a now a bit of a brand. In fact, at one of the BGANZ council meetings one of the members referred to Care for the Rare as a movement! It felt incredible to hear that. Other botanic gardens in Victoria are independently developing rare and threatened collections of their local flora, and deferring to Care for the Rare in their collection. Care for the Rare has the potential to be something that brands the role of conservation in botanic gardens beyond the six pilot gardens. In terms of where the program is going, we hope it will expand. It’s been incredibly successful. For example, until recently, the Shepparton garden had no staff; it was run entirely by volunteers. They have done remarkable things associated with the Care for the Rare project − there are now 27 threatened species sitting in their garden. This has allowed the gardens to go to their council and tell them, we are something other than a park and we need to be resourced. Now they have a staff member. We’ve learned a lot about how to set up these multisite conservation collections and how to support, encourage and empower regional botanic gardens in getting involved. In fact, BGANZ QLD has asked us to advise them as to how they might implement a

The Conservation Collections Planning Team at the Australian Botanic Garden Shepparton. L – R: Melissa Stagg, Landscape Designer; Sally Mann, local field naturalist; John Arnott, RBGV; Lindy Harris, Karwarra Gardens; David Roberts, RBGV Melbourne Gardens. Credit: Jill Grant.

similar Care for the Rare program across Queensland botanic gardens.



Tell us about your work at RBGV Cranbourne and how you developed the master plan for the living collection In 2008 I moved to RBGV Cranbourne as Manager of Horticulture. My job was to support the implementation of the second and final stage of the Australian Garden. The original design for the Australian Garden was strongly narrative driven and very much led by the brilliant landscape architecture team Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL). The original plantings were developed collaboratively with horticulture staff in partnership with Australian Garden TCL Plant Designer Paul Thompson. Post completing the second stage in 2012, the garden entered a new phase in its development, that of plant and landscape establishment and exploring how the garden was being used by our visitors. At this point TCL and Paul Thompson stepped back from active roles and the Cranbourne Gardens division took full carriage of managing the 21 precincts and their associated living collections. This led us to ask the question, who curates a garden? The answer was not just the gardeners, or the horticulturists – everyone curates a garden. With this the Cranbourne Gardens established an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to Curatorial Management Planning which has successfully guided the development of the living collection and associated visitor experience. Our curatorial planning team ended up including someone from the executive (Chris Russell), someone from plant sciences, horticulturists, our visitor experience team, our infrastructure people and our natural areas and conservation team. I think the beauty of botanic gardens is that they are multidisciplinary. Each discipline has its own perspective, so they are multi-perspective too. We established a multidisciplinary team to create a shared sense of understanding. For example, the infrastructure team was interested in things like timber and bridges and through the process they learned the value of the living collection beyond the hard infrastructure. They could see and feel the passion and commitment for a particular plant. When it came to maintenance processes, such as cleaning out a draining pit, for example, they used to just throw the gravel into the garden bed. Now, they understand that the plants might be precious, so they have changed their work practices to avoid this. Through the master planning process, we realised there was an opportunity for us to introduce conservation horticulture into the living collection, beyond the ornamentation that was inherent in the original design. We could place an emphasis on the flora of SE Australia and Victoria and introduce some ecological and conservation elements into the collection, while understanding and honouring the intent of the designer and original plant selection. The original design was largely an abstraction of nature. The master plan suggested we should be looking at tighter ecological associations within these display gardens and we were given permission to explore that.



FEATURE INTERVIEW There was a horticulture team of about 17 people who were really committed to this agenda and delivered it. It went from a strategy to something that was owned and championed by staff, a shared vision by management, staff and Friends. It was a case of ‘driven by strategy, fuelled by people.’

You’ve been a key member in the evolution of BGANZ and BGANZ Victoria. What are the changes you’ve seen and value?

The Red Sand Garden at RBGV Cranbourne Gardens. Credit: RBGV.

The seed for the idea of a peak industry body or network across botanic gardens in Australia and New Zealand was discussed as the main theme at the Australian Botanic Gardens Congress in 2001 hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens in the ACT. The major outcome from the Congress was the formation of an Australian Botanic Gardens Network that ‘evolved’ to also embrace botanic gardens from New Zealand. With that BGANZ was born. The inaugural congress of BGANZ was held at Geelong in 2003 when I was the curator director there. As such I’ve seen it go from an idea to a cohesive network. Its achievement is that it has established itself as the BGCI of Oceania and is now globally recognised as the region’s peak industry body. This recognition has been incremental over time; congress by congress, president by president. We have more than 130 institutional members, the vast majority funded by local government and representing their communities, unlike the major capital city gardens that have a statewide mandate to be a botanical institution. Yet managers of botanic gardens in local government can’t necessarily look to their park manager or even their organisation to secure anything beyond (critical) funding and support, such as guidance and inspiration with respect to how to manage a living collection. BGANZ fills that void. It’s the network that connects each of these botanic garden curators funded by local government, and provides the opportunity for technical support, advice, capacity building, training and moral support. It is like any professional association – it means you are not alone.

As such I’ve seen it [BGANZ] go from an idea to a cohesive network.



FEATURE INTERVIEW What’s your favourite botanic garden, other than Cranbourne? Alice Springs Desert Park. It connects animals, plants and people and introduces a First Nations voice. It’s where life sciences meets culture.

Finally, what is your favourite plant? I revere gingkos. They are very biodiverse. There’s one at the Geelong Botanic Gardens that’s remarkable. It is huge, with enormous aerial roots, or truncheons, arguably the finest example of the tree in Australia. Gingkos are ancient plants and are listed as endangered in the IUCN red list of threatened species in the wild. They used to exist all over the world and over millennia, became restricted to tiny, fragmented populations in China. They are another great example of the importance of conservation.

The magnificent ginkgo at the Geelong Botanic Gardens planted by the garden’s first curator Daniel Bunce in the 1850s. Credit: City of Greater Geelong 2001.



Seasol has a range of soil and plant products to take you from sowing seeds to vibrant blooms and tasty edible produce. Scan to see Seasol’s range.




Wollongong Botanic Garden: the gift of foresight, legacy and connection Daniel Bishop, Curator, Wollongong Botanic Garden and James Beattie, Living Collections Curator

Saturday 2 January 2021 marked 50 years since Wollongong Botanic Garden (WBG) opened daily to the public. Located on the land

Daniel Bishop

James Beattie

of the Dharawal people, our story intertwines with the establishment of steelmaking in the Illawarra 100 years after European settlement.


Aerial view of Wollongong Botanic Garden 2020. All images: WBG.


To many, it feels like this garden and magnificent rainforest have always existed here and that we may take the location for granted. More than 50 years of passion has gone into the garden to bring it to the standard we celebrate today, but how did this garden come to be, and how do we foster this legacy we’ve inherited?

It all starts with a gift This unique parcel of land was donated to the City of Wollongong by Arthur Sidney (Sid) Hoskins in 1951. But let’s rewind at little… In 1928, steelmakers Sid Hoskins and older brother Cecil moved from Lithgow to Port Kembla to take advantage of the deep seaport and rich coastal deposits within the

Aerial view of Wollongong Botanic Garden 1948.

Illawarra escarpment. Here they formed Australian Iron and Steel Ltd (AIS − which later merged with BHP), and surprisingly set in train a remarkable story of civic generosity and environmental foresight. In 1938 Sid and his wife Marjorie (Madge) decide to build their Tudor‑style family home, named Gleniffer Brae, on 75 acres of land in Keiraville – which is now the site of WBG. The manor house,

Gleniffer Brae Manor House.

designed by Geoffrey Loveridge and perched high on a hill, offered sweeping views from Mount Keira to the west, along the Illawarra escarpment to the north and south, and across the ocean to the east. A large garden surrounding the house was designed by the pre-eminent Danish landscape gardener of the time, Paul Sorensen, to create an integral part of the estate setting. The garden consisted of a series of cleverly used drystone walls, a circular pond and fountain, enclosing belts of large trees, changing levels and flowering beds of azaleas and other popular garden plants, effectively creating several outdoor rooms. To provide instant impact Sorensen transplanted mature trees from the surrounding district, moving − from as far afield as Gerringong − large established Coral Tree(s) Erythrina indica. He was passionate about the use of Australian native trees and it’s likely he



FEATURE GARDEN experimented with the Illawarra Flame Tree Brachychiton acerifolius and Kurrajong Brachychiton populneus, as transplants. The well-established windbreaks of Brushbox Lophostemon confertus form a reminder of this considered structure that shelters the inner garden while preserving views to Sublime Point and the northern Illawarra escarpment. An ambitious depression-era project, Gleniffer Brae manor house and Sorensen Garden is now listed on the NSW State Heritage Register and the Register of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) as outstanding architectural examples of the period. When the family later decided it was time to leave the Illawarra, the Hoskins donated 46 acres to Wollongong City Council on 12 December 1951 on the premise that they would establish a garden on the site that would “remain accessible to the public.”

Sorensen Garden, from the collections of Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society.

In the 1960s Professor Peter Spooner (University of NSW) created the modernist landscape design for the city’s new botanic garden. Irregular pathways were laid and asymmetric shapes created, with a layout based on ecosystem regions. This zonal system provided areas representing parts of the world where thousands of plants were planted and grouped according to country of origin. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the gardens developed and expanded with the entire 75 acres eventually coming under ownership of the council.

Professor Spooner’s plans, from the collections of Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society. 18

Aerial view of garden development, from the collections of Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021

In January 1971 Wollongong Botanic Garden officially opened to the public. The early days The early thematic focus on exotic flowering trees, shrubs and perennial favourites is still conspicuous in the walled Rose Garden, azalea embankments, succulent displays and perennial flowering beds. Increasingly, however, the development of collections represented diverse

Sidney Hoskins’ wife, Madge at the plaque unveiling at the opening ceremony of the Garden, from the collections of Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society.

Australian habitats and Illawarra’s indigenous flora. Major regeneration works took place in the 1980s where 600 species native to the Illawarra were planted in the rainforest area. Thousands of cubic metres of soil and large boulders were brought in to build inclines and create the rocky outcrops and scree slopes forming the Dryland Garden Collection. In the 1980s innovative public programs were developed including the establishment of

Succulent Mound.

one of the earliest botanic garden volunteer groups. Community access was provided to native plants via the Greenplan conservation nursery. Cratloe Cottage, the old gardener’s residence, was converted to house our environmental education team (who specialise in a dramatic form of education, including theatre, comedy and costuming), positioning the garden as central to Wollongong City’s

Mt Keira Summit Park.

environmental outreach. Natural annexes connecting mountains to sea became part of the garden, including the management of Mount Keira Summit Park to the west, Puckeys Estate Nature Reserve to the east and Korrungulla Wetland to the south, each containing a high number of threatened ecological communities.



In the 2010s the Towri Bush Tucker Garden was established as a place to learn about Aboriginal plants and their uses and Stage 1 of the accessible rainforest walk was completed for people with mobility impairment. The newest addition to the garden is the Palm Collection, which includes over 800 rare, endangered and uncommon palm species from around the world. Created with the support of philanthropist Colin Wilson, and assistance from the Friends of Wollongong Botanic Garden, this collection provides a safe home for rare species and the chance to collect seed and share it with other botanical institutions to safeguard the species into the future.

The people’s garden today Thanks to the contribution and dedication from staff and volunteers over the past 50+ years, WBG is now one of the Illawarra’s most valued and important community spaces, attracting more than half a million visitors each year to relax, immerse themselves in nature and learn about plants and the environment at events, workshops, walks and activities. Expansive, serene and beautiful, but so much more than just a garden. This place is filled with moments and memories over many lifetimes. We see our role as providing transformative experiences by connecting people, plants and nature.

Botanic Gardens Day 2021.

Best laid plans for a 50th anniversary As we planned for our upcoming birthday, we thought we’d dodged a bullet with the devastating bushfires in the summer of 2019−20. Smoke and heat put a hold on some of our events but thankfully our region was saved from the devastation seen all around us. COVID-19 soon took over the remainder of 2020, but we were hopeful that things would be looking much better in time for our celebrations due to kick off on 2 January 2021. We had planned a year-long celebration of events, activities and workshops to showcase the importance of plants, nature, wildlife and our environment, and teach and inspire our visitors. Instead, our birthday celebrations took another form. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to cause disruption, forcing us to cancel much of our community focused 50th program.



FEATURE GARDEN The highs The year 2021 instead highlighted more than ever how the garden continues to be a sanctuary for people to escape the everyday, exercise, connect, celebrate, enjoy nature and improve their mental health and wellbeing. Despite the reduction in public programming visitation, we have been incredibly fortunate to be able to keep our gates open throughout the lockdown period. Our entry numbers remained high, with visitors tending to stay longer and explore widely with many finding refuge in the serenity of the garden’s natural beauty. Our wonderful Friends volunteer group launched their stunning commemorative 50th anniversary book Discover Wollongong Botanic Garden, along with a botanic art and photography exhibition held in March 2021. We made the shift towards installations and self-guided walks and trails, as our normal face-toface engagement was forced to shut down. A new nature wellness trail, Go Slow for a Mo’, was installed in May with help from The Connective, a team of urban planners, landscape architects, anthropologists, ecologists, psychologists, First Nations custodians and nature connection specialists. The trail draws on the latest scientific knowledge around creating health benefits and conservation outcomes from meaningful time spent in nature. A poetry trail was also installed in August featuring three poems commissioned for the garden’s birthday in collaboration with Red Room Poetry. During school holidays we created engaging trails for our youngest visitors to explore, and signage highlighting the benefits of trees and plants helped share positive messages around climate change. Our energetic, dramatic and engaging environmental education team pivoted to deliver education to school groups via Zoom, taking the garden to the screens of children remote learning at home. We were fortunate enough to be able to deliver three key community events − the Sunset Cinema over summer, the Sculpture in the Garden public art exhibition in February/March and Botanic Gardens Day in May. We welcomed Costa Georgiadis to the latter, hosting the live panel broadcast from the garden and our Living Collections Curator, James Beattie, also joining the expert panel. This was an absolute highlight for us and our community, with other special guests including Clarence Slokee, John Gabrielle, the Hoskins family and local musicians.


Costa Georgiadis, James Beattie and Daniel Bishop with descendants of the Hoskins family who donated the land: Bill, Alison, Kate and Daniel Hayward.



Clarence Slockee from Gardening Australia.

John Gabriele (ABC Radio’s Compost Heap) and Penny Hoswell (educator at Wollongong Botanic Garden).

To mark the end of our celebration, a time capsule containing items relating to the present garden era will be planted in December, from the staff of today as a gift for the staff of the future.

Planning for the future The garden’s Master Plan provides a long‑term vision guiding the future development of garden infrastructure. This, partnered with our Thematic Review Project, will provide the guiding light to continue to enhance this

Musicians from Wollongong Conservatorium of Music, who operate from Gleniffer Brae Manor House in the Botanic Garden.

unique and much-loved space into the future. Our new database will be used to underpin the integrity of our collections and will allow us to share plant information in new ways with the public and our botanic garden colleagues in Australia and around the world. Beyond the gates, the garden is supporting Council’s Urban Greening Strategy that seeks to meet the climate emergency challenge through development of urban forests across the local government area. The 80,000 native plants produced annually via our Greenplan Nursery will continue to play a critical role in greening the city, while WBG itself stands as an example of a real‑life urban greening project and practically demonstrates the 40% canopy the city aspires to achieve. As a member of the South East NSW Bioregion Working Group, the garden will continue to assist in species recovery programs, build capacity within our staff for conservation and broaden community understanding of the role our work plays in securing biodiversity for future generations.



A key part of the conservation puzzle is connecting with people. We know human disconnection from nature is a key driver of ongoing planetary health concerns, with more time spent indoors and on screens than ever. Research is confirming what many of us have known for a long time − nature’s health benefits are far-reaching for people − but what about the environment itself? The science shows that if we can create more opportunities to connect with nature through positive experiences and meaningful moments, those people are more likely to undertake environmentally responsible behaviour. Beyond providing information and education to visitors, to shift the needle our focus should be on enabling people to have a deeper emotional connection with nature, like that which is achieved with the Go Slow for a Mo’ trail. Returning full circle, we also aim to revitalise Sorensen’s original garden design, restoring walls damaged by time and recovering heritage plant species to ensure Madge’s garden vision − and vistas − remain atop the Keiraville hill, chosen so wisely and gifted so generously to the people of Wollongong. Hopefully this story provides a reminder of the power that shifting the focus from ourselves to others and the world around us can have

Go Slow for a Mo’ Nature Wellness Trail.

in creating a better future for all. We invite you to reflect on the idea of legacy and what seeds we can plant today to improve our environment and lives over the next 50 years. What will your legacy be?




An exciting new garden for plants endemic to the Grampians Neil R Marriott, Flora Team Leader, The WAMA Foundation Botanic Gardens

Introduction WAMA − Where Art Meets Nature − has a beautiful property just outside Halls Gap, at the foot of the majestic Grampians/

Neil Marriott

Gariwerd National Park in western Victoria. Our plans are to establish an art gallery dedicated to wildlife art, surrounded by an Australian native botanic garden, natural bushland and wetlands that will inspire not only the wildlife artists, but nature lovers, botanists, horticulturalists and home gardeners alike.

WAMA logo.

WAMA is a not-for-profit organisation that relies on grants and donations to develop and survive. We were thrilled in 2019 to obtain a Growing Victoria’s Botanic Gardens Program grant for the establishment of a dedicated garden for the cultivation and display of the more than 77 species of native plants endemic to the Grampians/Gariwerd region of western Victoria. Our WAMA property is divided roughly into three distinct zones: • cleared land for the gallery and the botanic gardens • Grampians Heathy Woodland, permanently protected with a Trust for Nature Conservation Covenant • a riparian area and wetland also protected with a Conservation Covenant. Soils on the botanic gardens site are free draining Grampians sandy outwash and are well known among native plant enthusiasts for their suitability for the cultivation of an extensive range of Australian native plants. The climate is Mediterranean, with cool wet winters and hot dry summers. Despite the marked drying of our climate with a resultant drop in annual rainfall due to climate change, WAMA Botanic Gardens still receives good annual rains due to its proximity to the



WAMA Botanic Gardens wetland area. Credit: Neil Marriott.

Part of the cleared land where the botanic gardens and gallery will be established. Covenanted bushland at rear. Credit: Neil Marriott.

Grampians mountains. We are also fortunate in having large supplies of high-quality ground water, and a shallow bore and solar pump are ready for the establishment and irrigation of our gardens. Essential for the high quality of the overall layout of the gardens is a well-designed landscape plan, and once this was completed the siting of the Grampians Endemic Garden could be undertaken. We ran an open tender for the design of the Endemic Garden and were fortunate to be able to contract a dynamic and enthusiastic young team who have come up with a wonderful design and plans for the development of the garden. At the same time, we established our WAMA Grampians Endemic Garden propagation team tasked with the huge job of propagating the approximately 77 native plant species endemic to the Grampians region. We were fortunate to have around 20 of these already growing in our teams’ native gardens, giving us access to good supplies of seed and cuttings for their propagation. At the same time, we applied to Parks Victoria for a permit to collect small amounts of seed/cuttings for those species we did not already have under cultivation. Sadly, this application was unsuccessful. We are most fortunate that one of our team, Phil Williams, is a former native plant nurseryman who lives only a few kilometres from the WAMA Botanic Gardens. He has most generously opened his old nursery site to the community for the propagation and growing on of our endemic plants. Several good seasons have seen our plants coming on in leaps and bounds, with many now ready for planting. One of our major partnerships in the establishment of the WAMA Botanic Gardens is with the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens. Fortunately, Cranbourne Gardens is also establishing a collection of Grampians endemic plants and has a permit with Parks Victoria for the collection of propagation material from the National Park. As a result, we are now assisting Cranbourne horticultural staff on field trips to the Grampians to help them in the collection of endemic plant material. Once Cranbourne has plants established, we have an arrangement to exchange material. A bit slower than planned, but at least we are slowly but surely now building up an extensive range of the Grampians endemic plants. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


FEATURE ARTICLES Sadly, the COVID-19 lockdowns have put the construction of the Endemic Garden on hold for some time, however, we are all set to get this up and running as soon as we can. Large slabs of rock and other landscaping materials have been sourced and are ready to go, and contractors have been chosen for the garden development. The Grampians region is one of the biodiversity hot spots of Victoria containing over 30% of the state’s flora. This includes many truly beautiful and unique plants. Our aim is to establish all the approximately 77 endemic plants in this one garden. This will be the first time anywhere that all these Grampians plants

Members of our WAMA Flora Team: L to R: David Pratt – WAMA Site Development Manager, Jill Burness – Landscape Planner, Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, Neil Marriott – WAMA Flora Team Leader, Wendy Marriott – Flora Team member, John Arnott – Manager Horticulture, Cranbourne Botanic Gardens.

will be grown in the one location. Even the most enthusiastic and athletic nature lovers would struggle to see all these in the wilds of the Grampians, with some confined to one or two tiny populations, some only found on the tops of the subalpine mountains, while others are only found in the deep, fern-lined creeks in the valleys. To have all growing at one location in specially designed gardens to suit all the differing terrain and microclimates will be a unique experience for nature lovers, gardeners, photographers and artists alike. Given the geographically small distribution of most of the Grampians endemic plant species, it is not surprising that the vast majority are listed as rare, endangered or critically endangered. Many species are sadly now being further threatened by climate change and its associated increase in wildfires. The natural distribution of

Williamsons Bush-pea Pultenaea williamsoniana – the Grampians has a greater concentration of Bush-peas than anywhere else in Victoria, with seven species found nowhere else on earth. Credit: Neil Marriott.

species such as the beautiful Gariwerd 26


Grevillea Grevillea gariwerdensis has been drastically reduced. Gariwerd Grevillea is now extinct at its type locality and is known from only one or two remaining populations. The establishment of cultivated populations of all the endemic Grampians plants in our WAMA Botanic Gardens will be of extremely high conservation value in decades to come. Our collection of endemic plants will include not only the purely endemic plants, but also those that venture just out of the Grampians into surrounding districts or slightly further afield. For example, species like the Rock Banksia Banksia saxicola that is widespread in the central Grampians, but curiously has one disjunct population at Sealers Cove, Wilsons Promontory,

The rare endemic Gariwerd Grevillea Grevillea gariwerdensis – a seedling regenerating naturally in a covenanted area. Credit: Neil Marriott.

will be displayed in the garden. Who knows, but it is probable that when DNA work is done on this species, it may well reveal that the two are closely related but distinct species. Another exciting feature of the WAMA Grampians Endemic Garden will be the establishment of a wide range of genetic material for as many of the endemic species as possible. Species such as the Flame Grevillea Grevillea dimorpha, Variable Holly Grevillea Grevillea aquifolium and many other species show a great range of genetic diversity within the Grampians ranges, and we already have some extremely diverse clones of these under propagation. The long-term value of this genetic diversity will make the Grampians Endemic Garden an extremely valuable asset for any future national park revegetation projects and for species conservation

Flame Grevillea Grevillea dimorpha var. angustifolia. Credit: Neil Marriott.

in general. The Grampians is one of the state’s fastest growing tourist destinations for those wanting to get back to nature. The WAMA Grampians Endemic Garden will be a major drawcard for these tourists, who will be able to admire the plants in our garden, learn about each one through our interpretive signage, and then be amazed at the talents of our botanical artists when they wander around our dedicated gallery. This will be a spectacular showcase for our beautiful Grampians flora set against the stunning backdrop of the Grampians ranges. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021



Best practice guidelines a win for collaboration Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson, ANPC Project Manager (Germplasm Guidelines) The Australian Network for Plant Conservation and The Australian PlantBank, Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

Where do you go for information when you’re asked to source native plant seed, want to upskill to improve plant conservation, or keep up with the latest research in restoration and conservation?

Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson. Credit: Michael Lawrence‑Taylor.

Best practice guidelines that bring together research and experience can fit the bill (Image 1). And a bonus: you can reach for one publication as your gateway to knowledge, so your valuable time is well spent. The Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) recently led the collaborative effort to update and launch two best practice guidelines. These are: the third edition of Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia – strategies and guidelines for developing, managing and utilising ex situ collections (aka the Germplasm Guidelines); and the second edition of the Florabank Guidelines – best practice guidelines for native seed collection and use. Funding to manage these projects is gratefully acknowledged from The Ian Potter Foundation and the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust, respectively. This funding supported Dr Lucy Commander (Project Manager, Florabank Guidelines) and myself, as we sought input from a wide range of experts to update and review the guidelines, which are now available for free download from the ANPC’s website. These latest guidelines complement the third edition of Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia (aka the Translocation Guidelines) updated by the ANPC in 2018.



The Germplasm Guidelines may be most familiar to readers, as these focus on ex situ collections of common and threatened plant species, which are often housed in botanic gardens. Plant tissues (collectively known as ‘germplasm’) can be stored in seed banks, cryostores, tissue cultures, the nursery and in living plant collections. The first two chapters cover the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of ex situ conservation, including a handy decision-making guide and the key considerations for planning. This edition includes new chapters to ensure good genetic representation in ex situ collections, an overview of nursery practice (including must-read sections on propagation techniques), how to identify

Germplasm Guidelines Ex situ conservation of common, threatened and at risk species

species with seeds that are ‘exceptional’ or difficult to store, handling of orchid seeds and mycorrhizae (symbiotic fungi), storage of non-seed plants such as ferns, conservation of carnivorous and parasitic plants, and the use of ex situ collections. Ex situ collections often provide the source information and propagules for translocation, and the Translocation Guidelines go into more detail on source and recipient site selection, implementation, maintenance, monitoring and evaluation. If you work on threatened plants or are partnering with conservation agencies to

Florabank Guidelines Native seed collection and use for seed‑based restoration

produce plants for translocation, this is a key reference. Since publication, it has been incorporated in the NSW Government translocation policy. The Florabank Guidelines focus on native seeds for restoration, usually of common species. The 15 modules guide readers through the seed supply chain, covering species selection, seed sourcing, seed production, seed processing, seed testing, seed storage and seed technology, and assist readers to decide whether direct seeding and/or tubestock will provide the best outcome. It also provides tips on buying and selling seeds, information on working with First Nations Australians, approvals and record keeping.

Translocation Guidelines Transfer of plants or regenerative plant material from an ex situ collection or natural population to a new location

The update of these guidelines was led by ANPC as part of the Healthy Seeds Project and published by the Florabank Consortium.


Image 1: The Germplasm, Florabank and Translocation Guidelines are all available for free download to meet different conservation and restoration needs. 29

All three guidelines address genetic diversity, collection strategies, storage, propagation and plant return to the natural environment − so important in this UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Across the three guidelines, we are grateful to have the input of more than a hundred contributors and reviewers from botanic gardens, universities, state and federal governments, and international organisations such as BGCI, the Millennium Seed Bank, the Center for Plant Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. Both the Germplasm Guidelines and the Translocation Guidelines include case studies that capture collaborative efforts to support plant diversity, and this is particularly evident in the case studies from botanic gardens. Here is just a selection of case studies from the Germplasm Guidelines: • Partnerships for seed conservation: The Australian experience, by the National Coordinator of the Australian Seed Bank Partnership, Damian Wrigley, and former coordinator Tom North (Image 2) • Germination testing at the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre, by James Wood of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and the dedicated volunteer team (Image 3a) • Investigating seed storage options for Syzygium and Lophomyrtus threatened by myrtle rust in New Zealand, by Karin van der Walt of Otari Native Botanic Garden, Wellington, NZ (Image 3b) • The importance of partnerships for securing threatened species, by Stig Pederson, recently retired curator at Booderee Botanic Gardens • Establishing a metacollection of threatened species from Far North Queensland’s cloud forests, by Warren Worboys and John Arnott of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Cranbourne • Care for the Rare: supporting metacollection development for rare and threatened species in regional botanic gardens, by John Arnott, documenting an initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and BGANZ, with support from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (Image 3c) • Saving orchids from extinction: the RBGV Orchid Conservation Program ex situ collection, by Noushka Reiter, Richard Dimon and Marc Freestone of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria • Managing ex situ plants highly susceptible to pathogens, by Bec Stanley, former Curator, and Emma Bodley, Botanical Records and Conservation Specialist, of Auckland Botanic Gardens • Ex situ conservation of a critically endangered fern, by Caroline Chong (now Threatened Species Botanist with the NT Government) during her stint at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (Image 3d) • Using seed production areas to restore endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, by Jordan Scott and Peter Cuneo. Within these, and the many other case studies in the Germplasm Guidelines, is a message of hope and action in the face of grim news on biodiversity loss. Let yourself be inspired by their actions, learn from their research and experience, and take small steps to improve the art and science of horticulture in your own collaborations each day. 30



Image 2: Location of major ex situ conservation facilities for Australian flora, including Australian Seed Bank Partners and Associates*, the Australian Tree Seed Centre, the Australian Grains Genebank and Australian Pastures Genebank (both storing crop wild relatives) and major forestry seed banks with conservation collections. Credit: CAM Graphics. Key: 1. *George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens conservation seed bank

8. *Victorian Conservation Seedbank, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

2. *Alice Springs Desert Park

9. Tasmanian Seed Centre, Sustainable Timber Tasmania

3. *Western Australian Seed Centre, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Kensington and Kings Park and Botanic Garden 4. Forest Products Commission Seed Centre 5. Australian Pastures Genebank, South Australian Research and Development Institute

10. *Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens 11. *National Seed Bank, Australian National Botanic Gardens 12. Australian Tree Seed Centre, CSIRO

6. *South Australian Seed Conservation Centre, Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia (BGSH)

13. *Australian PlantBank, Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust

7. *Australian Grains Genebank, Agriculture Victoria

14. *Brisbane Botanic Gardens Conservation Seed Bank, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha




Image 3a: Seed bank volunteers at the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre. Credit: James Wood.

Image 3c: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Cranbourne nursery staff. Credit: John Arnott.

Image 3b: Mature fruit of Swamp Maire (aka Maire Tawake, Waiwaka) Syzygium maire, an endemic New Zealand tree species listed as Nationally Critical due to the threat of myrtle rust. Credit: Karin van der Walt.

Image 3d: Potted Christmas Island Fern Pneumatopteris truncata growing at the Australian National Botanic Gardens nursery nine months after spore germination. Credit: Fanny Karouta-Manasse.

The Germplasm, Florabank and Translocation Guidelines are available for free download: Please share the link with your colleagues, students, Friends groups and collaborators. We’d love to hear how you are using the Germplasm, Florabank and Translocation Guidelines and your stories of collaboration for plant conservation. You can tag us at @ANPlantC on Twitter or share your experience in Australasian Plant Conservation ( or at the upcoming 13th Australian Plant Conservation Conference in April 2022 ( conferences/apcc13/). Subscribe to our free e-newsletter ( and check out the excellent benefits of an ANPC membership, available for individuals and organisations including botanic gardens ( 32



Taking the high road for seed conservation Lorraine Perrins, Curator, Conservation and Sub Antarctic Flora, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

Tasmania’s Overland Track is regarded as one of Australia’s finest multi-day walks. The 65 km, 6-day walk traverses the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, winding its way through many vegetation types, including Fagus forest, eucalypt forest, Button Grass Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus plains and alpine herb fields. The park’s vegetation is very diverse, largely escaping damaging forest fires that have caused neighbouring fire-sensitive vegetation to suffer.

Admiring the view of Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain from Marion’s Lookout. Credit: L. Perrins.

Interestingly, although approximately 9,000 walkers embark on this iconic walk each year, marvelling at the breath-taking scenery and immersing themselves in unpredictable alpine weather, there have been few opportunities for the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre (TSCC) to conduct extensive flora surveys or collect seed from many areas of this national park. The major reasons for this are issues relating to the time required and difficulties involved in accessing the region, particularly in regard to regularly monitoring whether species are having good seeding years, and being able to respond at the appropriate time with collecting teams and equipment, all requiring significant resources. With climate change and the threat of wildfire, seed collecting and banking is critical as an insurance strategy for many species into the future.



Early in 2020 the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) entered a partnership with the Tasmanian Walking Company (TWC) to take advantage of an upcoming ‘masting event’1 of Pencil Pine Athrotaxis cupressoides. The TSCC had made collections of this species from a previous mast event in 2015, however, this was prior to current knowledge that many populations are clonal, meaning the genetic diversity of these early collections was lower than preferred. The idea of having TWC guests involved in the collection or cleaning of Pencil Pine cones was an attractive one and the plans for the 2020 collection were to undertake the TWC Cradle Mountain Huts walk in April, collecting from populations all the way along the track to capture greater diversity. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of Tasmania’s national parks impacted this program significantly. With no idea when a masting opportunity would arise again, TSCC Manager James Wood, accompanied by TWC Guide, Justin Dyer, were granted special permission to enter the park via the Arm River Track and spent four days harvesting the precious bounty around 300 hectares within the Pelion region. Despite difficult weather conditions, James and Justin managed to collect 8,000 viable seeds from 46 stands, which are now

TSCC Manager James Wood harvesting Pencil Pine Athrotaxus cupressoidies, April 2020. Credit: Justin Dyer TWC.

safely stored in the TSCC freezer. As the scheduled 2020 walk with TWC guests did not occur, the company was keen to ensure that those guests who had booked were provided with another unique opportunity to assist the TSCC, and a general alpine seed collecting trip was offered in February 2021. The TWC hosted James on the walk, accompanied by TSCC Volunteer Tim Rudman (who previously worked in the Biodiversity Conservation Branch of The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment) to organise the seed collecting, as well as provide information about the seedbank program, and engage the guests and guides in conversations regarding the flora and natural values of the park. Having participated in TSCC seed collecting field trips before and never having walked the Overland Track previously, I jumped at the chance to be a guest on this walk, with the opportunity of gaining an incredible learning experience, as well as being able to contribute in a tangible way in conserving the flora of this unique place. On 24 February 2021, under clear blue skies and mild temperatures, James, Tim, three TWC guides, seven guests (including me), set off on the inaugural TWC/RTBG Overland Track Seed Collecting Trip.

1 A ‘masting event’, also referred to as ‘mast seeding, or masting’, is the highly variable and spatially synchronous production of seeds by a population of plants. Species that exhibit mast seeding include conifers and bamboos. 34


FEATURE ARTICLES All guided groups traversing the Overland Track must adhere to very strict guidelines regarding staying ‘on-track’ for the duration of the walk, something which is difficult to do when seed collecting and surveying flora populations. The TSCC liaised closely with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (TASPWS) to gain approval and the necessary permits for ‘off-track’ fieldwork, to allow James and Tim to target likely areas for investigation, though this was kept to a minimum at a few select areas. This first trip was intended as a ‘test case’ to see if the concept of making conservation seed collections, that is, a minimum of 10,000 seeds from at least 50 individuals for each species, was achievable within the timeframe of the walk, with a predominantly botanically unskilled group and the unpredictable weather conditions. Day one, the longest walking day, was not conducive to any collecting due to time constraints and the fact that previous TSCC collections had been conducted in this area as day trips from Cradle Mountain. It did, however, present the group with many observations of interesting flora and a spectacular introduction to the magnificent scenery we were to encounter along the way.

View of Barn Bluff from the Overland Track. Credit: L. Perrins.

Tim and James introducing some of the flora along the Overland Track to the TWC guides and guests. Credit: L. Perrins.



FEATURE ARTICLES Day two presented the group with an experience of the weather for which this area of Tasmania is renowned. Torrential rain curtailed opportunities for plant surveys and the side trip to Lake Wills was cancelled as the group headed for Pine Forest Moor Hut and the opportunity to dry out. James and Tim had always considered that days three to five of the walk would provide the best

The group walking in the torrential rain on day 2. Credit: T. Rudman.

prospect for seed collections. Having received some information about good spring flowering of populations of Prickly Daisybush Olearia pinifolia from the TWC guides and TASPWS rangers, they were looking forward to assessing the populations of this Tasmanian endemic around the Pelion Plains area. The TSCC has tried to make collections of this species before, however, like many Olearia ssp. it tends to have very poor seed set so a large quantity of material would need to be harvested to achieve good viable seed numbers.

James inspecting seed of Prickly Daisybush Olearia pinifolia. Credit: L. Perrins.

On reaching the populations it was decided to split into two, with one group harvesting along the track between Old and New Pelion Huts and the other harvesting from populations between New Pelion Hut and Mt Oakleigh. After two hours, many sore hands and a few leech bites, we had bagged just under 1 kg of seed from over 300 shrubs. Day four, a shorter walking day, enabled a focused effort to survey an area around Pelion Gap where few plant observations have been recorded. Some members of the group headed for the summit of Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak at 1,617 m above sea level, and the others keen to continue botanising and seed collecting headed in the opposite direction towards Mt Pelion East where some target habitats for collecting were known. Not having had the opportunity to conduct preliminary surveys before the walk commenced, James and Tim were essentially ‘going in blind’, having no idea if there would be anything ready to collect. However, even if we drew a blank regarding seeding populations, recording a species list for the area would be a valuable activity for future reference and so the group set off in eager anticipation. It became apparent as we climbed, (stopping frequently to enjoy the stunning views surrounding us), that several Alpine Groundsels Scapisenecio spp. were flowering and seeding well. We set



to work to collect from a good population of Yellow Alpine Groundsel Scapisenecio pectinatus, as well as a smaller, more localised population of White Alpine Groundsel Scapisenecio albogilvis. Additionally, we decided to make a quick collection of Alpine Sundew Drosera arcturi, a perennial, insectivorous species of subalpine or alpine herb which dominated some wet flushes on the east face of the mountain. With three collections made, field data noted, herbarium specimens secured and a species list for the peak recorded, we descended back down to proceed to Kia Ora Hut.

TSCC Volunteer Tim Rudman harvesting Scapisenecio pectinatus. Credit: L. Perrins.

Yellow Alpine Groundsel Scapisenecio pectinatus.

The collecting team harvesting Alpine Sundew Drosera arcturi. Credit: L. Perrins.

The walk from Kia Ora Hut to Windy Ridge Hut traverses some of the oldest forests on the track, passing impressive and ancient King Billy Pine Athrotaxis selaginoides. It also winds its way past Du Cane Hut, the oldest structure on the Overland Track. Built in 1910 by Patrick Joseph ‘Paddy’ Hartnett as a trapping hut, it is constructed almost entirely from hand-split King Billy Pine. Descending into the Mersey River Valley to view a variety of waterfalls, some populations of the rare Tasmanian endemic, Long-leaf Milligania Milligania longifolia were noted with interest for future monitoring and possible seed harvesting after a major flowering event. The final day of the walk brought another change in the weather, with intermittent misty rain focusing our attention on Narcissus Hut to catch the boat to the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre. Here we paid our farewells to the TWC group and headed off to check a nearby population of Rockfield Purple Pea Hovea tasmanica for seed, before returning to Hobart.



Returning the seed to the TSCC is not the end of the story. Three weeks after the trip James and Tim were kept busy drying, processing and removing extraneous materials from the collections before the size and quality of the collections could be determined. The result (see table below) was much better than anyone’s expectations with over 316,000 viable seeds collected in total, a terrific effort by all those involved. Altitude (m)

No. of viable seed



Yellow Alpine Groundsel Scapisenecio pectinatus var. pectinatus



White Alpine Groundsel Scapisenecio albogilvus



Alpine Sundew Drosera arcturi



Taxa Prickly Daisybush Olearia pinifolia

Plans are now in place for the RTBG and the TWC to conduct another Overland Track Seed Collecting Walk next year. It will be timed for the end of January to try and capture some of the earlier seeding species. With a bit of luck and fine weather, I am sure it will be as equally enjoyable and successful as its predecessor.

James and Tim processing the Prickly Daisybush Olearia pinifolia at the TSCC. Credit: T. Rudman.

Further reading For more images from this trip, visit




The ‘Cloud Forest’ of Cranbourne Owen Janusauskas, Horticulturist, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Far North Queensland’s (FNQ) high mountain peaks hold ancient rainforests that are a living record of our country’s lush Gondwanan origins. The lack of fire adaptation of these environments − the wettest parts of Australia − poses an extreme risk in a warming climate. Botanic institutions across Australia have come together to

Owen Janusauskas

collect, conserve and tell the stories of these plants as a backstop to extinction. On the east coast of FNQ are several cloud forests; rocky mountain peaks all above 1,000 metres that are almost perpetually immersed in clouds. It’s not the FNQ you might imagine. Diffused sunlight and constant moisture, which combined with lower-than-average temperatures, make these cloud forests feel quite cool. The mountains are clothed with complex and diverse tropical rainforest, surmounting to alpine rocky outcrops. These rocky heads are crowned with horticultural wonders like the famed Rhododendron lochiae, one of the only two naturally occurring rhododendron species in Australia. The plants of these mountain communities strip the oncoming clouds of moisture then feed it down to the warm tropical forests and river catchments below. On a rare clear day, you may spot the tallest of them all; Mount Bartle Frere with a peak of 1,622 metres and an average of 8,140 mm of rain each year. Melbourne’s average yearly rainfall is around 650 mm, Sydney’s is 1,175 mm and Canberra, 630 mm. “In an Australian context, the wet tropics covers less than 0.2% of Australia, but contains 30% of the marsupial species, 60% of bat species, 25% of rodent species, 40% of bird species, 30% of frog species, 20% of reptile species, 60% of butterfly species, 65% of fern species, 21% of cycad species, 37% of conifer species, 30% of orchid species and 18% of Australia’s vascular plant species.”1 It is therefore of great scientific interest and of fundamental importance to conservation. Increased temperatures from climate change may cause the cloud base to rise and change these ecosystems irreversibly.

1 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Wet Tropics of Queensland, UNESCO website THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


FEATURE ARTICLES In 2015, a study by the Australian Tropical Herbarium at James Cook University, Cairns, predicted a significant decline or disappearance of available habitat for 19 endemic vascular plant species from FNQ’s wet tropics highest mountain peaks.2 After expert meetings to list the endemic mountain flora species, initial expeditions were conducted to these mountains to attain accurate information about the distribution of these species. After hundreds of hours in some of Australia’s most remote and rough terrain, over 800 records of target species were made, including new records for Australia, a fern presumed extinct and species potentially new to science. This was a call for action. TroMPS (Tropical Mountain

A ficus strangles among high mountain rainforest. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.

Plant Science Project) was born, with the aim of establishing ex situ holdings of targeted FNQ high mountain peak plant species. This involves a living metacollection of 86 at-risk species ‘backed up’ across seed banks and botanic gardens across Australia. This enormous task became an Australia-wide collaboration. The Ian Potter Foundation provided significant funding and the Australian Tropical Herbarium stood as the lead agency. Other organisations in the consortium include the Australian National Botanic Garden (ANBG), Australian Rhododendron Society (Victoria), Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Cairns Botanic Garden, Earthwatch, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV), Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust (Sydney), Western Yalanji (and other indigenous groups) and the Wet Tropics Management Authority. After many field trips across the different mountain peaks, seeds were collected, cuttings were taken, herbarium vouchers were made and genetic samples were taken from each population. I was lucky enough to participate on field trips with TroMPS to several incredible locations. It’s had a profound impact on me and solidified the idea that the plant conservation we go to great lengths to achieve at botanic gardens is impactful for species survival. The ANBG and RBGV were tasked with undertaking vegetative propagation, trialling the cutting material with the aim of establishing ex situ living collections of these unique species. In parallel, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust (Sydney) staff were tasked with seed germination trials leading to additional plant material being available for holdings. Many of these species have never been grown in cultivation and yet some of them appear to be promising horticultural 2 Ecology Society of Australia, Conserving the climate-threatened flora of Queensland’s Wet Tropics, ESA website 40


plants well out of their natural range and habitat. The project is based on the principles of conservation horticulture, which is defined as the cultivation of plant species for the purpose of plant conservation. At RBGV, conservation horticulture is emerging as a key focus area identified in the living collections plan. There is a tangible focus on displaying Australia’s threatened species in the botanic gardens and telling the stories of these plants and the threats posed to them. RBGV’s Cranbourne nursery staff have been growing TroMPS plants for around two years with remarkable success;

Wilkie’s Leatherwood Eucryphia wilkiei flowering in the Cranbourne nursery. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.

around 140 wild collected species and hundreds of individual plants have been grown mostly from cuttings, surviving two Melbourne winters. Horticulturist David Perkins has overseen the collection of these species and cared for them throughout. Some genera have proved extremely challenging such as two Rhodamnia species, while the likes of Flindersia have been growing fast.

There is a tangible focus on displaying Australia’s threatened species in the botanic gardens and telling the stories of these plants and the threats posed to them. Although some of these plants will be distributed to other organisations for their own ex situ collections, an opportunity arose through RBGV Curatorial Management Planning (CMP) to create a ‘Cloud Forest’ garden with this unique plant collection. While updating the Gondwana Garden CMP, two key themes emerged; a plant-led story of Australia’s floral evolution and conservation collections of Australia’s different rainforests. The idea of a garden within a garden took root. The Cloud Forest would sit within the Gondwana Garden at RBGV Cranbourne. A large garden bed within the Gondwana Garden was identified as the ideal place to establish the Cloud Forest. The site is primarily dominated by pioneering Acacia species, with slow plant performance of desired species underneath. To the west a 5-metre-high hedgerow of Weeping Lilly Pilly Syzygium floribundum borders much of the site, providing excellent protection from hot drying winds, and small pockets of shade. To the east the land rises into a hill, atop of which sits a magnificent Australian Red Cedar Toona ciliata and several Scrub Ironwood Gossia bidwillii. To the northeast a large Hill’s Weeping Fig Ficus microcarpa var. hillii grows askew. Preserving the trees and removing the pioneers left us with a sunny hill and with excellent westerly protection. The concept was there, but we needed a design. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


The garden bed yet to be renovated. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.

A selectively cleared garden. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.

We established a design team including Chris Russell, Executive Director Cranbourne Gardens, Jill Burness, Landscape Planner, John Arnott, Manager Cranbourne Horticulture, Warren Worboys, Cranbourne Curator Horticulture, Trent Loane, Team Leader Horticulture and I, to progress the design development. The garden bed was deep; it was going to be difficult to see these plants without getting among them as most of the collection was an assortment of small trees and shrubs. A secondary path within the garden bed was proposed with dual purpose; to provide an intimate experience with the flora and to take people on a metaphorical climb from the rainforests of tropical lowlands to a high mountain peak, turning our humble hill into a mountain. A path would cut through the length of the garden, with a side path around the magnificent Wilkie’s Leatherwood Eucryphia wilkiei, to the mountain climb. At the peak, basalt columns would be laid horizontally to announce your arrival, hold back the mountain and provide a spot to consider the mountaintop flora such as Rhododendron lochiae, Dracophyllum sayeri and Tasmannia sp. (Mt Bellenden Ker). Plants were placed so that the right amount of sunlight needed for the mountain top flora to succeed will be available as they grow. In the wild some of these plants occur on a single mountain, while most occur across the


The design. Credit: Owen Janusauskas


FEATURE ARTICLES range of peaks. For some species, there is also morphological variation between the same species from different peaks. This is seen in the multiple accessions of the same species included in the collection, with considerable differences in colouration in the species of Redbark Austromyrtus Uromyrtus metrosideros and Wooroonooran Tea Tree Leptospermum wooroonooran. I was keen to incorporate as many of the plants from TroMPS as possible. Many of these plants have no cultivation information available, so planning was done by combining the plants’ distribution and ecology with their morphological characteristics, also noting their performance in the Cranbourne nursery. I split the plants into management categories, first the growth habit (canopy large tree, medium tree, large shrub, medium shrub, climber, ground floor) and then their defining characteristic (fruit feature, flower feature, large leaf, parallel stems, drip tips, coloured new growth). Plant elevation was also a key factor in the design; would you find this plant at the base of the mountain, on the way up or at the summit? Plant choice and placement were reviewed meticulously by John, Warren, Trent and I. The collaboration continued with the expertise of Jill Burness and Warren Worboys, who helped to plan out the sinuous path, taking care to have inclusive access for all, suitable growing conditions and bends in the right places. They have been involved with the Australia Garden since its inception and ensured the integrity of new designs. John Arnott was an encouraging force for the project, somehow making this feasible during budget constraints and two years of COVID-19 lockdown measures. Trent Loanne has helped organise and deliver the project throughout and Bronwyn Swartz

Irrigation and path construction. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.

spent weeks on the excavator improving the soil of the site. The CMP group of John, Warren, Trent and myself combed over the design many times, discussing each plant’s placement and intent. Kaishan Qu and the irrigation working group installed hundreds of metres of pipe to a newly designed and delivered hydro zoned irrigation and mister system to the new garden beds. The infrastructure team installed new metal edging into lines of beauty that would please 18th century painter William Hogarth. The Horticulture team have been keen to get in and plant these interesting plants.


Placement of basalt columns for the mountain peak. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.


FEATURE ARTICLES As of October 2021, planting is well under way, with completion of the initial planting due by December 2021. Initial plantings saw late frosts in early September that severely damaged some plants while other species showed resilience. Possums have been keenly browsing on plants close to the existing Syzygium floribundum hedgerow. The coming years will involve great excitement, watching how these plants grow around 2,800 kilometres outside their natural range. In addition to living collections being established at each of the project partner

A young garden, beds and path defined. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.

gardens, the consortium is currently offering selected material for distribution to other suitable state and regional botanic gardens in the BGANZ network. There has been a great expression of interest from a wide range of locations across Australia.

The coming years will involve great excitement, watching how these plants grow around 2,800 kilometres outside their natural range.

View looking down from the peak, a place to sit and reflect. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.

The Gondwana Garden has continued to evolve from its lush design origins to a phylogenic plant journey and refuge of different Australian rainforest communities. The garden has adapted to meet the needs of changing times, a renewed pursuit of conservation horticulture and cross‑country collaboration in plant conservation.

Mountain Bells Paphia meiniana on the boundary of ‘Cloud Forest’ garden. Credit: Owen Janusauskas.



Pollinating great ideas Ex situ conservation of the Macquarie Cushion Azorella macquariensis – celebrating the success of cross agency collaborations Lorraine Perrins, Curator, Conservation Collections & Sub Antarctic Flora, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens Macquarie Island lies approximately 1,545 km southeast of Tasmania, and is an Australian Subantarctic Territory managed by the Tasmanian Government Parks and Wildlife Service (TASPWS). The island has 44 species of seed-bearing plants. Macquarie Cushion Azorella macquariensis, one of only four species endemic to Macquarie Island, is the keystone species of the fjaeldmark ecosystem in the plateau uplands, which covers 45% of the island. In 2008/09 an island-wide dieback of A. macquariensis emerged, resulting in substantial and continuing loss.1 Undertaking conservation on a remote subantarctic island is extremely complex and relies heavily on strong collaborations maintained over long periods. Since 2009, a multi-agency team utilising skills and resources from the TASPWS, Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Natural Values and Cultural Heritage (NCH) Division of the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) have been involved in the conservation of this critically endangered species through a range of activities, including mapping and monitoring the extent of the dieback across the island, the nomination and listing of the species as Critically Endangered under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) and the preparation of

Image of the A. macquariensis seed orchard on Macquarie Island. Credit: A. Turbett (TASPWS).

associated Listing Advice.

1 D Bergstrom, P Bricher, B Raymond, A Terauds, D Doley, M McGeoch et al. Rapid collapse of a sub‑Antarctic alpine ecosystem: the role of climate and pathogens. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2015, 52(3): 774−783, doi. org/10.1111/1365-2664.12436 THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


POLLINATING GREAT IDEAS Very early on it was apparent that growing this species at the RTBG would not be possible due to difficulties with quarantine and the environmental conditions it required. Therefore, in 2010 a trial ex situ containerised conservation collection was established away from the island’s natural populations. Following the success of this trial in spring 2013, with wonderful assistance of staff from TASPWS, the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Team, the Bureau of Meteorology and the AAD, small cushions were collected from across Macquarie Island to increase the collection to 54 plants. This maximised the likelihood of obtaining a broad cross-section of genetically distinct individuals to create a viable seed orchard. A conservation seed collection is ideally composed of at least 10,000 seeds from a minimum of 50 individuals per population and the goal is to harvest a large seed collection for the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre (TSCC). Support from the AAD and TASPWS has been critical in providing the logistical support services required

Images of Azorella seed orchard plants showing the growth between 2014 and 2021.

to maintain a remote ‘cultivated’ collection. Each month from September to April, TASPWS rangers send images of the plants to RTBG horticultural staff to assess and monitor the health of this important collection. Although Macquarie Island lies in a high rainfall region, it was important to ensure that the seed orchard had a backup irrigation system to mitigate against any potential changes to the rainfall patterns in the future. This system has an independent water source and functions during periods of low or no rainfall. AAD staff based on the island provide important trade services for any irrigation pump or related issues, and the AAD shipping services facilitate the vital transportation of supplies and resources required to maintain this collection over time.

Support from the AAD and TASPWS has been critical in providing the logistical support services required to maintain a remote ‘cultivated’ collection.



Continuing into its 11th year the success of this ongoing cooperation is demonstrated by the sustained health of the ex situ plants, the monitoring work informing strategies for this species’ conservation, and the provision of some initial seed collections to commence germination trials. The ‘captive specimens’ of Azorella macquariensis in the Macquarie Island seed orchard will remain closely monitored and continue to be maintained as a conservation collection, effectively ‘buying time’, while further research is being conducted for the future preservation of this species.2

TASPWS Ranger Chris Howard taking images of the seed orchard. Credit: C. Howard (TASPWS).

The RTBG acknowledges the ongoing assistance of the AAD, TASPWS and NCH, as well as the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, and concerned individuals in providing some financial support for this program.

2 C Dickson, Impact of climate change on a sub-Antarctic keystone cushion plant, Azorella macquariensis (Apiaceae) [doctoral thesis], Monash University, 2020,

Harcourt Editing Services

ABN 63 721 784 293

Rebecca Harcourt, PhD Editing and writing for the life sciences +61 (0) 423 623 360



It takes a village − the collaborative effort to conserve threatened species Zoe Knapp and Kathryn Scobie, Australian National Botanic Gardens Botanic gardens have an increasingly important role in the conservation of native flora. In recent years, the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) nursery team has increased its focus on the conservation of threatened species, primarily through collaborative projects. This has included growing plants for genetic

Zoe Knapp

and other scientific research, seed orcharding, translocation projects, revegetation work and ex situ collection development and management. Below we outline some recent developments in the ANBG nursery’s work on threatened species and a current case study.

Prioritising threatened species in the living collection The ANBG holds threatened species in the living plant collection growing in the gardens, a permanent potted collection maintained in the nursery, and within the seed collections stored at the National Seed Bank. The ANBG’s living collection currently holds almost a third of all threatened flora listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The ANBG’s living collection currently holds almost a third of all threatened flora listed under the EPBC Act. To help ensure the persistence of threatened species in the living collection, the ANBG has developed a tool for prioritising the curation of rare and threatened species in the collection. The tool ranks species according to their threat status (state and national) and other factors impacting their extinction risk, such as endemism, rarity and potential exposure to stochastic events (for example, bushfires). Categorising the collection in this way helps the ANBG to focus on holding, propagating and protecting high priority species. The ANBG living collection database displays the priority ranking for each species and accession record, along with other key information about its provenance, as in collection, lineage, location and more. This immediate access to the priority status of individual plants has enabled a significant overhaul to the permanent potted collection held in the ANBG nursery, with much of that collection now representing threatened species. It has also empowered the horticultural staff to prioritise their management and maintenance efforts on threatened species planted in the gardens. Further, it underpins an ongoing



POLLINATING GREAT IDEAS propagation plan for the ANBG collection, enabling the limited time and resources available to be focused on the most valuable plants within the collection.

Threatened species collection protocols With the foundation of extensive fieldwork experience, ANBG and National Seed Bank staff have worked together to develop robust collection protocols and ex situ collection management practices for threatened species. These protocols allow accurate tracking of genetic diversity, representativeness and lineages within the threatened species collections at the ANBG, which increases their value for potential future conservation efforts.

Ex situ collections helping to conserve bushfire affected species – case study Many threatened plant and animal species were severely impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires in Australia. As part of the Saving Our Species (SoS) program, ANBG collaborated with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) South East to help secure threatened plants in NSW. At Mt Imlay National Park, near Eden on the far south coast of NSW, field surveys by DPIE ecologists found that the entire adult population of two fire-sensitive endemic species, Hibbertia circinata and Mount Imlay Boronia Boronia imlayensis, had been burned in the fires. Both species are geographically restricted to Mt Imlay. Thankfully, many new seedlings emerged following good rains. However, with no mature, seed-producing plants in the wild, both species faced the very real threat of extinction should these vulnerable seedlings fail. While the ANBG has a strong H. circinata collection from prior conservation work, the genetic diversity of the seedlings establishing from the soil seed bank is irreplaceable.

Growing Hibbertia circinata in the Booderee Botanic Gardens Nursery. Credit: Parks Australia.


Hibbertia circinata regrowth at Mt Imlay National Park. Credit: Parks Australia.


POLLINATING GREAT IDEAS In March 2021 DPIE and ANBG developed an urgent plan to collect and secure seedlings of both species. The seedlings would be distributed between the ANBG and Booderee Botanic Gardens (BBG), providing the further safeguard of two separate ex situ collections. However, as with many plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, both the collecting trip and the plan to distribute the seedlings were thwarted by resulting lockdowns. Luckily, a small window of opportunity presented and staff from DPIE South East

Boronia imlayensis regrowth at Mt Imlay National Park. Credit: Parks Australia.

threatened species team and BBG were able to conduct the collection trip to Mt Imlay. Together, they undertook field surveys and collected around 60 seedlings of both target species, following best practice conservation collection protocols. The seedlings are currently being cared for at BBG and will be distributed to the ANBG nursery when border restrictions allow. At that time, both botanic gardens will house genetically diverse ex situ collections of each species. Once the plants have developed sufficiently, many will be planted out into the grounds at BBG as part of their living collection. Canberra’s less favourable climate means the ANBG collection will remain in the nursery, where initial work will focus on optimising propagation techniques, particularly for B. imlayensis. The ANBG nursery has experienced good propagation and cultivation success with H. circinata and plantings throughout the gardens have proved successful to date. However, B. imlayensis has presented a much bigger challenge to the nursery team. With access to minimal propagation material, difficulty cultivating the species and limited propagation success, there is still much work to be done. This timely new collection represents an excellent opportunity to learn more about both B. imlayensis and H. circinata – knowledge that will certainly help in securing the species. Further research may also contribute to the conservation of these species. The ANBG, BBG and DPIE will continue working together to support the conservation of these and other threatened plant species. Thanks to Tamera Beath (ANBG), Peter Bredell (ANBG), Toby Golson (ANBG), Damon Oliver (DPIE), Julie Percival (BBG) and Genevieve Wright (DPIE) for their valuable contributions to this article.



Increasing the genetic biodiversity of a rare rainforest tree Peter Gould and Marie Matthews, Friends of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens Hairy Quandong Elaeocarpus williamsianus is a rare, small- to medium-sized rainforest tree known only from a few isolated stands in northern New South Wales. In 2004, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service developed a recovery plan for the Hairy Quandong. Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens (LRBG) has been included on a list of ex situ conservation sites for a Saving Our Species program, which is aimed at increasing the numbers of this tree and improving the genetic diversity of the species. Hairy Quandong is listed as Critically Endangered under both the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It is also listed as Endangered in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)

Hairy Quandong Elaeocarpus williamsianus flowering at Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens, November 2020.

Red List 2002. This rare tree is known from around 12 isolated stands in north-eastern NSW, from the Burringbar Range near Murwillumbah south to Broken Head. Soils at these sites are derived from meta-sediments and are generally rocky and low in nutrients. Each of these stands consists of several clonal stems or root suckers, with usually only one genetic individual occurring at each site. Although two stands contain two closely related individuals, they are too closely related to effectively cross pollinate one

Logo of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens.

another. Therefore, although there are about 150 stems in total, each population represents only one or two genetic individuals, either clones or closely related plants and none produce viable seed. Cross pollination is needed for seed viability and geographical isolation appears to be a key factor in its failure to produce viable seed.



The genetics of three rainforest species in the genus Elaeocarpus were investigated in a joint research project between NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Southern Cross University Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics in 2002. Elaeocarpus williamsianus, E. minyon (listed as an Endangered species) and the more common E. grandis were investigated, providing an understanding of gene flow in intact and fragmented populations for guidance in the use of these species in rainforest regeneration

The authors in front of a Hairy Quandong tree at Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens. Credit: Tracy Whitby.

and re-establishment projects. Currently at LRBG we are in the process of extending our Pat Offord Rare and Threatened Plants Garden. This will provide space for a grove of Hairy Quandong with material obtained from as many of the known sites as possible. The aim is to bring together as much genetic diversity as possible in one planting and, just maybe, produce viable seed through cross pollination. This new extension to our Rare and Threatened Species Garden will also provide space for two other Critically Endangered species, Scrub Turpentine Rhodamnia rubescens and Native Guava Rhodomyrtus psidioides (both severely impacted by the introduced disease myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii), as well as other rare and threatened plants. The Hairy Quandong was first recorded in 1980 and was named in honour of botanist John Williams in recognition of his contribution to rainforest botany in NSW. The tree can grow up to 16 m in height and is often multi-stemmed from the base. The leaves are dark green, glossy and smooth on the upper surface while the underside is dull and covered in dense rusty-brown hairs. The pale green flowers occur between November to December and are followed by a globular, blue drupe, up to 3 cm in diameter and resembling the fruit of the better known Blue Quandong Elaeocarpus grandis. It ripens in April to July but has been known to mature as late as December. To date, no trees have been known to produce viable seed. Interestingly, the plants which we have already established in the LRBG flowered for the first time in 2020, coinciding with several other ex situ plantings, and wild populations. LRBG is situated at the edge of a rainforest area known as the Big Scrub, which, before colonial times, covered approximately 75,000 hectares. Now less than 0.3% (about 200 hectares) of the forest remains in scattered remnants. It is our aim to replicate all the species known to have grown in the original forest. We also aim to engender and facilitate scientific research into



POLLINATING GREAT IDEAS rainforest species, to develop an understanding of rainforest ecosystems and to contribute to the conservation of local rainforest species. Since our first planting in 2002 we have planted over 8,000 trees including almost 600 different species, of which 53 are listed as officially threatened and many others are rare in our local rainforests. Our gardens are becoming a gene pool for local rainforest species and already other botanic gardens and research institutions are drawing on our plant material. This current project is another step in fulfilling our original vision.

References A Floyd, Australian Rainforests of mainland south-eastern Australia, revised ed., Terania Rainforest Publishing, Lismore, Australia, 2008. NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Draft Recovery Plan for Elaeocarpus williamsianus 2004, NSW DPIE website. NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Threats, NSW DPIE website.

ENOUGH POWER TO SILENCE THE SCEPTICS Ditch the petrol ... ditch the diesel. The Cushman Hauler Pro and Hauler Pro X feature a 72 volt electric ba�ery pack that is not only more environmentally friendly than that of compe�tors, but also more powerful. With a 680 kg towing capacity - these vehicles know how to work.


Contact Graham Janson for more info 0488 166 993



The Hort. Section Calling all horticulturalists, horticulturists and horticultists Bryn Hutchinson is the new horticultural editor of THE BOTANIC GARDENer. Here he introduces himself and asks us to consider ‘What’s in a name?’

Bryn Hutchinson

I take care of a Trial Garden in an Australian botanic garden and have previous experience in the private side of horticulture caring for ornamental gardens and some garden design. As you will come to discover, I also have a penchant for garden history and the work that we can do to meet current social and ecological challenges. However, before we proceed any further on this voyage of horticultural delights, there is something I must get off my chest and clear up once and for all. It is a delicate and divisive matter I know but I simply must ask it at the outset! Do please keep it genteel ladies and gentlemen. Brace yourself, here it is. Just how do we spell the word that describes our profession? I notice recently the spelling ‘horticulturist’ is in favour. I have a hunch that this may be due to the flattening effect on language by social media and international job search websites. I seem to remember ‘horticulturalist’ was the popular spelling in New South Wales when I first studied horticulture. Victoria still seems to be the bastion of ‘horticulturalist’ when I do a quick perusal of positions vacant online. Our compatriots in the UK seem to be using both spellings with a greater weighting towards ‘horticulturalist,’ while those in the US prefer the shorter spelling (of course). So which is the ‘correct’ spelling? They both are. Neither is of much greater lineage than the other. A brief look into the etymology of each word shows both these spellings have been around in British English for approximately the same length of time. The word ‘horticulture,’ from which they are both derived, is a relative newcomer to describe the care of plants, with its first recorded use in the 1670s.1 While it is constructed from Latin words, it is an anachronism; there was no such word in ancient Rome. In fact, the form which appears to have the oldest usage is ‘horticultist,’ with its first recorded use in 1754.2 The term ‘gardener’ was common at the beginning of the thirteenth century, before the coinage of ‘horticulture’ and is from proto-Germanic via old French. And if I was in ancient Rome, I would have 1 Online Etymology Dictionary, horticulture, Etymonline website, n.d., accessed 17 October 2021. 2 Online Etymology Dictionary, horticulture, Etymonline website, n.d., accessed 17 October 2021. 54


been called a ‘topiarius,’ with ‘topiarii’ being those collection of people that care for ornamental plants. This of course includes plants that today we would call ‘topiary.’ So what can we take away from this cross-pollinated, multi-varietal and hybridised language that describes our work? In the western world, it is an ancient profession that cuts across nations and cultures. As part of the regional peak body, we can keep up this internationalism and work across borders and cultures to enhance our practice. I hope the horticultural section of THE BOTANIC GARDENer can be one of those sites that showcases and engages collaboration across our region. I seek to be in touch with as many of you as possible across the botanic gardens of Australia and New Zealand while in this role, so please feel free to contact me at or via twitter @HutchinsonBryn. Let me know if you have another spelling to share or some other etymological insight. If you want to discuss writing a piece in the horticultural section of this fine magazine, I thoroughly encourage you. Or if you are of the more leisurely persuasion and prefer others to research and write up ideas you have for an article, then please share these ideas with me too. By the way, I have changed my twitter profile to reflect the spelling ‘horticultist,’ which is now my favourite form and one I fully intend on reviving!

Horticulturally decolonising botanic gardens Bryn Hutchinson, editor, Hort. Section Even if you only have a cursory knowledge of the history of botanic gardens, the fact that our institutions in Australia and New Zealand formed part of Britain’s imperial project will be of no surprise. At their inception, botanic gardens scattered across the empire were seeking out and trialling plants for agriculturally and commercially valuable uses, conducting scientific research and plant collecting. Trade and science often overlapped with plants criss-crossing the colonies as well as voyaging to Britain. Sir Joseph Banks is a paradigmatic example of the trade and scientific imperative merging in practice. Yet, the scientific work of knowledge production could sometimes slide into omission, plagiarism or the ‘forgetting’ of sources, especially where First Nations peoples were concerned. Plant collecting might bleed into plant and land theft. The boom in international trade and knowledge production rarely benefited those upon whom it relied and was most often actively destructive. Moreover, this is not a temporally or geographically distant observation. Only a few generations ago − both preand post-colonisation − important events occurred within many gardens. The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, for instance, is a site of first contact between European and Gadigal people on whose land the garden sits and operates. Horticulturalists and botanical scientists as collectors, gardeners, researchers and curators were a part of this colonial project.



I write about the topic of ‘decolonisation’ in this issue themed ‘Collection, Curation and Collaboration’ because these themes are actions we take in relation to and with others. They ideally describe a way of working that is based on constructive and respectful values. Yet, we are at a point in history when we increasingly face a reckoning with our cultural past and its impact on the present. The historical wrongs of colonisation and its continued effects are no longer viewed as acceptable, and I am not the only one writing on this topic. Alexander Antonelli, Professor of Biodiversity and Director of Science, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, recently wrote of the need to decolonise botanical collections.1 In this short piece he touches on a history of colonised people’s treatment by the British Empire and the exploitation of their knowledge, land and bodies by science. Antonelli discusses how Kew is now acknowledging this and acting to ensure the impact of those practices is not continued. I want to consider this from a horticultural perspective. What can we bring to the practice of acknowledgment? What resources do we have to reduce the privileging of one culture to the detriment of others? Such rejection of racism is the core of decolonisation.

Horticultural resources for decolonisation As horticulturalists working in contemporary botanic gardens, we carry on the legacy of our institutions. Those legacies can be at times uplifting, at other times troubling. Yet, the profession of horticulture by its nature encourages certain character traits that provide us with the resources to meet the challenge to decolonise botanic gardens. All good horticulturalists I know are curious, patient, attentive and observant. Let me elucidate the relevance of these traits.

Curious Without curiosity many of us would never have become horticulturalists. There is a transcendence in discovery and learning. I remember memorising my first botanical name, Lagerstroemia indica. It rolled off the tongue and I was most pleased each time I passed one in the street, and a little proud that I had expanded my ability not only to describe but understand the world. Learning language, be it scientific or the names of plants in other languages, is so important because it is not simply a descriptive lens, it also brings you in touch with an entire cosmology. Curiosity also creates a willingness to think in novel ways and see where it leads, such as asking, ‘Why do we predominantly structure plant collections through the paradigm of western science?’ There may be a very good reason why this is done but understanding and reflecting on your own cultural milieu is a step towards engaging with cultures other than your own.

1 A Antonelli, Director of science at Kew: it’s time to decolonise botanical collections, The Conversation, 19 June 2020, accessed 10 October 2021. 56


THE HORT. SECTION Patient A certain stoic patience is required when you are dealing with plants that run on their own timelines, immovable landscapes and vast climate systems. There are many things we experience yet have no control over. There are many things we can coax along but must wait for. Patience is alloyed to hope. The legacy of colonisation is both impersonally vast while having concrete and personal impacts. The practice of decolonisation takes place simultaneously at the levels of the interpersonal, organisational and national cultures. Some changes, such as increasing staff and visitor diversity to botanic gardens, are visibly if slowly occurring. Other changes

Old Man Banksia or Saw Banksia Banksia serrata, one of many Australian natives named after Sir Joseph Banks. Credit: Rebecca Harcourt.

seem intractable and slow. The patience of the horticulturalist helps us act on all levels knowing each will take its time. Some movement will be imperceptible like the growth of the Sequoia while other changes will have the speed of Commelina.

Attentive Horticulturalists must pay attention in a way that is quiet, to attune to the subtle signals that can be discerned from the plants and ecologies we work with. This is an attentiveness that only comes about through an openness to provide room for things to emerge. Careful listening is consistently identified as a pivotal element in understanding and disrupting the legacy of colonisation.

Observant To be attentive, horticulturalists must also be observant. Observation informs how we deal with the aphids on the flush of new growth. Is their presence evidence of parasitic wasps or lady bird larvae? Is now the time to rely on crushing by hand or will the plant maintain its health if we let their numbers build and attract predators? We are front line staff and we not only know our plants, but we also engage with the people who work within and visit the gardens.



THE HORT. SECTION Some of the fruits of decolonisation in our botanic gardens will be a staff and visitor base, which is representative of the areas in which our gardens are situated, a diverse use of language, and pluralistic cultural narratives. Horticulturalists are well placed to observe these changes and to act on those that we see need more attention.

Conclusion I hope that after reading this you can see that you already have the skills to go out and be a constructive part of the decolonisation of botanic gardens. Culture, like plants, is a living thing and will never be complete, even after our own individual passing. Yet, we are its stewards while we are here and this gives us the ability to act and shape its path, pruning one aspect and encouraging another. With the traits instilled in us from horticulture we have the resources and the strengths to collaboratively create a better world. So let us utilise our skills in this international system of botanic gardens and our position of leadership to do just that.



Notes From the Nursery Notes from the Nursery: an introduction Matthew Nicholson, Horticulturist

Matthew Nicholson

First, a short introduction about myself as the volunteer editor of this new section in THE BOTANIC GARDENer. I have been a member of the nursery team at the Wollongong Botanic Garden since I was taken on as an apprentice in 2002. During this time, I have worked to develop good working relationships with the Friends of the Botanic Garden, with bushcare groups, and with various council contractors to whom we supply plants. In addition to my trade qualifications in Horticulture Cert III (Nursery), and a professional upgrade to Cert IV in Horticulture, Certs II and III in Conservation and Land Management (Natural Area Restoration and Management), I also have a Diploma in Conservation and Land Management (General Land Management). I am passionate about the role played by the Australasian network of botanic gardens in conservation, bush regeneration, and, of course, in the field of education, without which, we could not relay and expand our knowledge base. I aim to bring a new perspective to this section by highlighting volunteer Friends groups and the important role they play in botanic gardens as stakeholders. I also aim to highlight the important conservation work played by volunteer local landcare and bushcare groups, as well as by contract bush restoration companies. My part-time work as a bush restorer also gives me a unique perspective about issues at the coalface of bush regeneration projects, for which the Wollongong Botanic Garden nursery has provided plants over the years. This is another area I would like to feature in this section. In this issue, I have invited the creators of the Growing Illawarra Natives website, and accompanying Facebook page, Emma Rooksby and Leon Fuller, to co-author a short piece on their combined efforts in this regard. I have also invited Friends executive, Helen Moon, to pen a short piece on their long-standing relationship with the Wollongong Botanic Garden. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute to this section in the future by emailing me at



NOTES FROM THE NURSERY Friends and staff of Wollongong Botanic Garden working together Helen Moon, former president, Friends of Wollongong Botanic Garden The Friends of Wollongong Botanic Garden (WBG) group was formed in 1981 to foster community interest and education and to raise funds for projects within the developing garden. From the very beginning the Friends had a close working relationship with the curator and members of the garden staff and it continues to work together for the benefit of the garden and its visitors. Members of the Friends have varied backgrounds, expertise, and shared passions for the garden and so are prepared to put in extra hours doing things they enjoy. Walking tours of the garden were one of the earliest activities. Regular monthly tours were led by Friends’ members, often assisted by staff. These developed into monthly ‘Meet the Gardener’ walks where participants were taken on a guided tour of one of the horticultural sections of the garden or were able to listen to talks or demonstrations by a staff member. This was enhanced when the Friends bought a minibus, then a 10-seater buggy, so both staff and Friends could conduct tours for less mobile members of the community and for special interest groups. These tours have proven very popular and are now run once a week. Walking tours will be reintroduced in early 2022 and it is hoped these will also be offered weekly. The tour organisers always work closely with the curators to ensure that information is accurate and up-to-date. Monthly evening tours of the garden are led by a staff member, assisted by a volunteer from the Friends. These are especially popular with children. Willing Weeders and Discovery Centre groups have provided a chance for volunteers to work with staff in the garden. Friends’ volunteers work with staff members in different sections each month, weeding, mulching, tidying and learning. The horticulturalists and education officers are generous in sharing their knowledge while working with these volunteers.

The Friends’ weekly potting group. Credit: Sue Martin. 60

A group of ‘Willing Weeders’ supervised by a staff member. Credit: Sue Martin. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021

The Friends’ propagation group also works with the nursery staff to produce stock for monthly plant sales − the main source of funds raised by the Friends for garden projects. Nursery staff provide materials, collect cuttings, assist with plant maintenance and provide instruction and advice. This has been a wonderful opportunity for participants to develop friendships and learn from professional nursery staff. Elsewhere, members of the Friends have been involved in areas using skills from previous careers which do not fall within the scope of the staff work. Children’s Storytime sessions and catering for events have enhanced the garden experience without overlapping staff responsibilities. This year’s Botanic Gardens Day, combined with WBG’s 50th anniversary, was a perfect example of Friends and staff collaborating to ensure success. The Friends provided information for visitors, arranged catering and organised an art exhibition, while staff managed the program and provided tours and entertainment. This major and delightful project for 2021, with input and advice from staff and Friends, resulted in a stunning souvenir book to celebrate 50 years of the garden. In WBG, Friends and staff work together for the benefit of the garden and its visitors providing a beautiful and popular asset for the City of Wollongong. This was especially evident during the COVID lockdowns when visitors re-enjoyed − and in some cases discovered − the WBG, finding space to spread out and avoid the often more crowded beaches. Visitor numbers were higher than usual in 2020 and 2021, which was very gratifying to both staff and Friends who have worked so hard together to make this local asset as popular as it has now become.

A website for growing Illawarra natives Leon Fuller, author and horticulturist and Emma Rooksby, gardener and bush regenerator Last year, a dedicated group of people in the Illawarra region of New South Wales launched a website that empowers residents in the region to discover and grow indigenous plants. It’s a local model that is part of a much wider movement. Amid the lockdowns of COVID-19, a trend that has been

Leon Fuller and Emma Rooksby.

building for many years accelerated: a return to localism and community. This included a rise in plant-based activities like backyard vegetable production, bee keeping, plant swaps, community gardens and conservation and recreation in natural areas. The Growing Illawarra Natives website, which was launched in autumn 2020, is part of this wave



of localism. It seeks to reconnect Illawarra residents with the plants indigenous to their region and does so with a model of 100% local volunteer effort. As the website’s creators, we believed it was time to give the Illawarra region’s underutilised local plants a boost. We were tired of seeing gardens and urban parks planted out with introduced plants, some with invasive potential, when the local area contained hundreds of suitable species that could be used

Wollongong seen from the Illawarra escarpment. Credit: Leon Fuller.

instead. Our aim was to support biodiversity conservation through greening the suburbs with local plants, powered by local energy. To that end we sought collaborators from across the community, and were amazed at the level of interest and support. Over the five years of initial project development, from 2015 to 2020, hundreds of people volunteered their time to help make the website a reality. This included major contributions from the project’s web and database designer Daniel Halldorsson and horticulturist Carl Glaister from Wollongong Botanic Garden. That collective community effort paid dividends.

Native meadow can include a wide range of grasses, sedges, ferns, scramblers and other groundcovers. Credit: Emma Rooksby.

The Growing Illawarra Natives website provides an accessible and visually engaging introduction to growing the region’s local plants and is used by many thousands of people. It offers several different pathways to access information about local plants, including a ‘plant finder’ tool covering a database of over 500 species, curated collections of plants for people seeking inspiration and dedicated articles on a range of gardening topics. There is a strong focus on growing plants to support local wildlife and the profile for each plant species includes available information on the fauna known to use it. Ongoing interest is provided through regular blog posts on topics from local plant-based activities to inspiring gardens and places, and step-by-step ‘how-to’ guides. For those who want a higher level of community interaction, there is a supporting Facebook group where people can ask for advice on gardening challenges or help with identifying a plant they don’t recognise.




The Growing Illawarra Natives website. Credit: Emma Rooksby.

Bonewood Emmenosperma alphitonioides is one of many underused indigenous species with high horticultural potential. Credit: Leon Fuller.

In practice, over time, the Growing Illawarra Natives website has become a compendium of information on indigenous plants of the Illawarra, and supports bush regenerators, gardeners, garden designers and land managers. Its pro-biodiversity approach encourages growing mixes of indigenous plants, not just individual species, and shows how plants can add different textures and biodiversity benefits in combination with others, rather than just through their individual characters. For example, plants like Native Flax Linum marginale, Whiteroot Lobelia purpurascens, Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra and Snake Vine Stephania japonica can mix and twine together to support each other, while also providing understorey habitat suitable for small animals to shelter and forage. We see one of the website’s many roles as that of a companion to the living plants seen in botanic gardens of the Illawarra, as well as in other gardens of the region. We hope that the representation of indigenous plants will increase over time, showcasing the value of these plants in cultivation and aligning the values of horticulture with those of biodiversity conservation. To quote Krishnan and Novy, “In the twenty-first century, botanic gardens are challenged to address issues that extend beyond the garden walls by placing social and environmental responsibility as key mission drivers.”1 A botanic garden featuring indigenous specimen trees or native meadow teeming with wildlife are beautiful ways to help meet those challenges. The Growing Illawarra Natives website is at:

1 S Krishnan and A Novy, ‘The role of botanic gardens in the twenty-first century’, CAB Reviews, 2016, 11(023):1−10. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


Botanic Gardens Day 2021 ‘Flora, Fauna, Funga!’ – The Power of Plants Last Sunday in May − Botanic Gardens Day 2021 Sam Moon, BGANZ Marketing and Communications Officer

Botanic Gardens Day continues to adapt to the conditions of the day, and feedback from our membership remains strong. 2021, with some gardens in lockdown and others operating normally, saw a great response from members and the public alike, who shared photos, videos and wonderful stories across the month of May using #plantchallenge. I particularly enjoyed being

Sam Moon

educated by the knowledge our members share across all our botanic gardens and arboreta. In 2021 BGANZ took the brave step to stream the botanic gardens day online panel live from Wollongong Botanic Garden (WBG). James Beattie, Alison Morgan and Andrea Algar and all at WBG ensured an outstanding experience was provided on screen and throughout the gardens on the day, as you will see from the photos in this article. Botanic Gardens Day Ambassador Costa Georgiadis hosted the panel, and he was just one of the highlights of the 50th WBG celebrations. It was wonderful to see the crowds that attended the numerous events in Wollongong on botanic gardens day.

Botanic Gardens Day panel Joining Costa this year were panelists: • James Beattie, Living Collections Curator, WBG • Suzanne Thompson, Australian Native Food & Botanicals (ANFAB) • Dr Peter Buchanan, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research • Georgina Reid, The Planthunter • Ricardo Simao, Environmental Systems Manager, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Costa, James, Georgina, Ricardo, Suzanne and Peter shared their incredible and diverse knowledge, leaving the live audience and online viewers with a wide range of insights and hungry for more.



Power of Plants #plantchallenge From May 1 leading into Botanic Gardens Day 2021 the increasingly popular #plantchallenge ran with the 2021 theme the ‘Power of Plants’. We love seeing your passion and all the #plantchallenge submissions and we shared over 250 plant stories (so far) within the network and beyond. An honorary mention to Brenden Moore, Youth Community Greening Officer at Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney for ‘Warming up the #plant platform’ with his Wattle Tree Rap − some inspiration there for 2022. If you haven’t seen it yet, check his Instagram or Twitter page or watch it here. Thanks to many of you for sharing your stories and those of your colleagues, staff, and organisations across your own networks, helping grow awareness and highlighting the many reasons for celebrating Botanic Gardens Day.

Share your ‘Plant Passion’ in 2022 The BGANZ Botanic Gardens Day team, Alison Morgan (Wollongong BG), Raydeen Cuffe (Wellington BG), Emma Bodley (Auckland BG), Helen McHugh (Australian National BG), Tim Uebergang and John Arnott (RBG Victoria), with Eamonn and myself, are working hard to continue to build on the success of botanic gardens day. In 2022 the #plantchallenge will again run for the whole month of May and there will be webinars and online workshops leading into botanic gardens day. Keep up to date with all the news by following our new Botanic Gardens Day Facebook page. If you have an idea for a webinar or online workshop from your garden during the month of May let me know via the email address below and I’ll pop it into the national program.

Behind the scenes of the online panel. Credit: Wollongong Botanic Garden.


Clarence Slockee leading the Bush Tucker Tour at Wollongong’s BGD event. Credit: Wollongong Botanic Garden.


Costa Georgiadis welcoming the audience to the online panel at Wollongong Botanic Garden. Credit: Wollongong Botanic Garden.

Wollongong Conservatorium’s Con Artist Community Band performing to visitors at Wollongong BGD event. Credit: Wollongong Botanic Garden.

What plant story will you tell and how? We invite you to start thinking how you would like to share your passion for plants. In 2022, BGANZ challenges you to share your ‘Plant Passion’ through stories, photos, videos, poetry (including haiku), song or any of your favourite creative pursuits.

Background Botanic gardens day was launched in 2016 by ABC TV’s Gardening Australia host and Botanic Gardens Day Australian Ambassador, Costa Georgiadis, and New Zealand event Ambassador, Jack Hobbs. Each year this event has more than 100 botanic gardens, arboreta and gardens in Australia and New Zealand participating and celebrating the vital work botanic gardens do for plant conservation. Thanks to our partners Seasol, Augusta, Plant Health Australia and WBG for their fantastic support in 2021. If you have any questions, please contact me at

The online panel. From left to right: Costa Georgiadis, James Beattie, Georgina Reid, Ricardo Simao, Suzanne Thompson, Dr Peter Buchanan. Credit: BGANZ. 66


U nd er sta n d the valUe o f yo U r liv ing co l l ect i o n des ign ed fo r m o b ile, ta b let , & p c

s h a re & co lla b o rat e wit h yo Ur p eers

a lways ava ila b le c loU d s erv ic e

ligh t , yet po werf U l

Learn more at




BCARM and carry on with your living collections! Emma Bodley, Botanical Records & Conservation Officer, Auckland Botanic Gardens and Convenor of BCARM

The BCARM group works on all things plant collection related. It stands for Botanic Gardens Collections and Records Management. There are nine members of the committee who meet every quarter to discuss the issues and challenges we face with collections management and find ways to address these for the benefit of

Emma Bodley

the wider BGANZ membership. We select key projects to work on and often have subcommittees or working groups to focus specifically on these projects, such as the plant database Hortis, which you would have seen through e-news or the online reference group meetings. I’d like to introduce the BCARM committee to you. We’ve got representatives from New Zealand, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, who have a range of skills in managing living collections, climate change responsiveness, plant records, database management, and generally have a passion for plants and gardens. Our secretary is Donna Thomas and I am the convenor. Our committee members are John Sandham, Peter Symes, Amanda Shade, Tex Moon, John Arnott and Sheree Parker. BCARM is working on ways to facilitate communication and collaboration between staff across the network. Sharing ideas and experiences is incredibly valuable and there is an appetite within the membership for a tool to connect with national and international colleagues. We have started monthly Plant Forums that have plants and

BCARM committee, September 2021. Credit: Emma Bodley.

collections as the focus for each session. 68


The talks also vary in themes and length to encourage as much participation from members as possible. We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to give a talk on anything plant related. It could be a project you’ve had success with or a challenge for which you’d like help with. It’s very informal and there’s always time for questions and discussions. The purpose is to connect with each other and share ideas, and we think this is a great way to achieve that. We’d be very happy to hear from anyone! We have a mailing list of about 70 people that we use to share our events and important updates. It’s also a resource for you to talk to others. If you want feedback or to gather information from BCARM members, we can contact the group through this mailing list. You might have seen a recent query for information about how you produce tags, particularly with barcodes, as an example of how you can use the mailing list. If you aren’t on the mailing list and would like to be, flick an email to

Botanic Gardens Engagement Network (BGEN) Ben Liu, Creative Producer, Learning and Participation, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Do you want to hear about new visitor engagement ideas and connect with botanic garden colleagues from across the region? Come and join the BGEN! The Botanic Gardens Engagement Network aims to support BGANZ members who work in the areas of education, interpretation, events, social media, marketing, volunteer management or any other form of visitor engagement. Network activities include regular online

Ben Liu

forums, a resource blog and monthly e-newsletters. The online network forums take place every second month, and each forum focuses on a different topic relevant to visitor engagement. As we have all become more accustomed to using digital technology, these online forums provide a unique opportunity for members to hear about the latest initiatives happening in botanic gardens across the region as well as connect with botanic garden colleagues working in similar areas. Recordings of network forums can also be found on the BGEN Resource Blog and previous topics have included: • new approaches to digital learning • telling your conservation stories THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS • using theatre and drama in botanic gardens • promoting self-guided visitors. BGEN is managed by a BGEN committee, a group of BGANZ members from across the region who all bring a wealth of experience and understanding of botanic garden visitor engagement. The 2021 committee includes myself and: • Michael Connor, Wollongong Botanic Gardens • Ngaire Gilligan, Brisbane Botanic Gardens • Paul Swift, Auckland Botanic Gardens • Charlotte Vaughan, Kings Park and Botanic Garden • Holly Kershaw, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney • Mak Djukic, Adelaide Botanic Gardens. If you’d like to join in the network activities simply email me (Network Secretary) and I will add you to the growing list!

Protecting Australia’s botanic gardens from pests and diseases Plant Health Australia Botanic gardens make prime sites for biosecurity surveillance activities as they are located in urban areas (historically, urban areas are often where new pests enter Australia), have large numbers of visitors each year (with potential for pests to enter gardens on visitors’ clothing and footwear), have diverse plant collections (allowing surveillance for numerous pests to take place in a small physical area) and have trained staff and volunteers who can be trained to conduct surveillance activities. The National Botanic Gardens Surveillance Network (NBGSN), established in 2018 and coordinated by Plant Health Australia (PHA), consists of staff from botanic gardens across Australia. The NBGSN is part of a larger project to establish plant pest surveillance in Australian botanic gardens and arboreta. The network conducts pest surveillance in botanic gardens with the aim of early detection and reporting of exotic plant pests and diseases. With participation from the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ACT), Kings Park and Botanic Gardens (WA), Royal Botanic Garden Sydney (NSW), Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (VIC) and the



Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens (TAS), the NBGSN has undertaken regular surveillance targeting five pests:

Rose Rosette Virus • exotic to Australia

• Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii)

• all Rosa spp. affected,

• Polyphagous shot hole borer

especially R. multiflora

(Euwallacea whitfordiodendrus) • Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) • Stigmina leaf spot (Stigmina platani)

• causes excessive thorn development, stem thickening and reddening of foliage.

• Rose Rosette Virus. These five target pests were chosen due to their conspicuous symptoms, their wide host range and potential impacts to agriculture, urban and natural environments. Three shorter blitz-type surveys targeting myrtle rust, brown marmorated stink bug and Tree‑of‑Heaven Ailanthus altissima were also undertaken. To date, more than 300 surveillance records have been collected and have all returned negative

Credit: Sandra Jensen, Cornell University,

for exotic pests and diseases. To support the NBGSN, PHA trained approximately 30 botanic gardens staff and friends to conduct surveillance for the target pests and report their findings to the program.

Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii) • detected in NSW in 2010. Now occurs in all states except WA, SA and southern Tasmania

To build knowledge of pest reporting and how diseases affect living collections, an online resource was developed. The extensionAUS


website features

information on pests, diseases and weeds, articles and publications, practical tools and tips, webinars and access to surveillance experts.

• affects 350+ plants in the Myrtaceae family • causes yellow pustules to develop on new stems and leaves. Can result in plant death.

Funded through the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Botanic Gardens Biosecurity Program is due to be completed in October this year and several botanic gardens have expressed interest in continuing surveillance activities. Remember, biosecurity is a shared responsibility. If you think you have seen something unusual, please

Credit: Steven Conaway, Greenwich Land Trust,

contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 804 881. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) • exotic to Australia • 100+ host species including a wide range of fruit and vegetables • look for 12−17 mm long brown shield-shaped bugs with banding on the antennae and outer edges of the abdomen. When feeding this insect causes damage to fruit. It also has a habit of overwintering in large numbers in buildings.

Credit: Mohammed El Damir,

Polyphagous shot hole borer (Euwallacea whitfordiodendrus) • exotic to Australia • recently detected in a 30-year-old backyard maple tree in East Freemantle, WA • 400+ wide host range including maple, planetree, oak, poplar and willow • look for multiple tiny bore holes associated with sap and discolouration of surrounding bark. Beetles spread a fungal pathogen that causes plant dieback and death.

Credit: S Bush, FABI University of Pretoria (top), W de Beer, FABI University of Pretoria (bottom)

Stigmina leaf spot (Stigmina platani) • recently detected in NSW. Absent from other states and territories • only affects the cut-leaf oriental plane tree (Plantanus orientalis var. digitata) • look for black spots on the underside of leaves associated with chlorosis (yellowing) on the top of the leaf.


Credit: NSW DPI



Regional botanic gardens record management system – Hortis Terence (Tex) Moon, Ranger Team Leader, Dandenong Ranges Gardens For those that are keeping up to date with this project, I just wanted to provide an update. We are progressing well with Hortis (from Botanical Software) and have so far had two reference group meetings hosted by them. These meetings have been a really good example of the customer‑based approach that shone through in their tender submission. The meetings are a chance for them to present their app prototypes, learn more about the workflows in our garden,

Tex Moon

and find out ways they can improve on their ideas. I’d like to thank those that have taken part in the reference group meetings; they have been very insightful and a valuable part of the design process for Botanical Software. Stay tuned for the next reference group meeting date. The Botanical Software engineers have been busily working with the plan to roll out a beta version of Hortis in the coming weeks. We are working with them to plan for a small selection of ‘early adopter’ gardens. This will give us the opportunity to see the onboarding process, do some valuable testing on their basic system and troubleshoot any issues with them, which should put us in a good position for the future onboarding of interested BGANZ members. For more info and to ensure that you are kept up to date, please register your interest at



Focus on BGANZ Partner: Seasol As members know, BGANZ has partnered with Seasol over the past few years. Members have benefited greatly from reduced product prices for their gardens. BGANZ has also been able to expand its member programs and future plans in part as a result of the partnership. Seasol are a proud Australian company with an interesting history. They are continuing to grow with their customers and partners into the future. Here’s a little of their story.

Seasol: our company For over 40 years Seasol has been in the business of growing and nurturing! Not just plants, but strong communities, a happy healthy workplace and a sustainable environment. At Seasol we aim to inspire people to change the way we grow our food and green our landscapes, so we all enjoy a healthier world today, tomorrow and indefinitely. Over the last 18 months, Seasol has learned to adapt to the ever-changing world and restrictions, lockdown and life with COVID-19. We have procedures in place to ensure our workplace is a safe environment for all staff and visitors. Wherever possible, we have supported our staff to work from home, and masks, hand sanitiser, QR codes and vaccinations have become the ‘norm’ at Seasol. Seasol is a small Australian family company that employs around 100 people throughout all states of Australia. Our main head office, bottling plant and warehouse are in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, with our manufacturing plant just outside Launceston. Wherever possible, our aim is to support Australian companies by buying Aussie products and using them in our manufacturing process. We have also joined the ‘Australian Made and Australian Owned’ campaign to show we are proud to be an Australian company. This will allow us to show our heritage by displaying the ‘kangaroo’ logo on all our containers. We have increased our social media and website content to support Aussie gardeners, both experienced and novice, to learn how to garden through COVID-19. We wanted to show that getting out in the garden for even a few minutes could help with mental and physical wellbeing during lockdown.



Our aim was more about going back to basics and teaching the 101 of gardening than selling products. It also showed us that we needed to expand our range to support gardeners through all stages of plant development; from sowing seeds, right through to harvesting tasty edible produce or picking vibrant blooms. So, we expanded our product range by releasing 12 new products in spring 2021. Seasol is now your garden solution, naturally. Our new product range includes the EarthCare range of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides that help control pests, insects, fungal diseases and weeds around the house and garden naturally. Three of these products, EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray, EarthCare White Oil insect spray and EarthCare Organic WeedKiller, carry the Australia Certified Organic logo. Next is Seasol Biochar with Zeolite. This utilises a process to bind Biochar to Zeolite to act as a delivery system for Seasol. It has been formulated to boost soil health and nutrient storage to increase plant productivity. Lastly are our soil and potting mix media produced in conjunction with Pinegro. The range of potting mixes contains everything you need to take the guesswork out of growing and looking after indoor and potted plants, as well as germinating seeds and propagating cuttings. They contain the highest quality raw ingredients, Seasol GOLD, balanced nutrients and trace elements, and a wetting agent to ensure plants flourish, all year round. Our soil media range includes products to help your soil, plants and lawn at all stages of growth. Treated with either Seasol GOLD or Seasol Liquid Compost, they help your total garden to thrive and grow strong and healthy. We engage our gardeners and their love of gardening through social media content including competitions, such as the 2022 Seasol Gardening Calendar competition. People enter by sending us their favourite gardening photos. We have a social media winner each month, then select 11 of the best photos for each month of the calendar. The December page is the Seasol staff Christmas photo. For more information about our competitions or products, please visit our website at




Botanic news: from home and abroad BGANZ Regional and Professional Groups are on the move We have seen a tremendous increase in Regional and Professional

Eamonn Flanagan CEO, BGANZ.

Group networks and workshop opportunities with the uptake of digital technology. It’s been great to see our members, colleagues and interested public joining several sessions in 2021. And there’s more to come in 2022. Members in these regions can contact regional group chairs for further information, get added to contact lists, or watch the e-news for updates. For more information on any of these Regional and Professional Groups – email or the Chair of each group linked below.

Regional Groups BGANZ Victoria Chair John Arnott. BGANZ New Zealand Chair Wolfgang Bopp. These are well established regional groups and will continue their programs in 2022. BGANZ Queensland: Contact Barry Meiring. Barry Meiring (Gladstone Botanic Garden) and Cody Johnson (Bundaberg Botanic Garden) are taking the reins at BGANZQ Regional Group – Queensland members have been notified of coming meetings, and plans are being developed to grow the group and its activities in coming months. BGANZ New South Wales: Contact Michael Elgey. Michael Elgey, the Curator Manager at The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan has recently been appointed as the NSW (including the ACT) regional representative for BGANZ. Part of Mike’s role is to represent botanic gardens from across NSW and ACT at Council meetings. Michael aims to ensure there is a collective dialogue, networking, workshops/conferences, and scheduled meeting between all BGANZ NSW gardens and organisations



Monthly online meetings are scheduled so join BGANZ NSW and continue developing opportunities for collaborative projects across our gardens. Currently, we have three professional groups operating: Botanic Gardens Engagement Group (BGEN) lead by Ben Liu – there have been regular meetings and well attended workshops in 2021 and look for more of the same in 2022 as we lead into the BGANZ/BGCI Congress. Botanic Gardens Collections and Record Management Group (BCARM) lead by Emma Bodley. The program for 2021 is coming to an end, but planning is well ahead for 2022 workshops and meetings. Feel free to join. Botanic Gardens Day Working Group – Lead by Tim Uerbergang/Sam Moon – a small team are working on Botanic Gardens Day for 2022. The group aims to build and enhance the successful features of previous years, including #plantchallenge/workshops and forums.

Save the dates 10th BGANZ Congress and 7GBGC (Global Botanic Gardens Congress): 26–30 September 2022, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne, Australia 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. It is expected that BGANZ Grants will be available for members to assist with travel to the 10th BGANZ Congress in Melbourne. Details to be announced Feb/March 2022.

7th Botanic Gardens Day (last Sunday in May) 29 May 2022 Theme: Plant Passions Plant Challenge – images and video across social media will run throughout the month of May. There will be a series of webinars across the month as we lead into botanic gardens day (see article from Sam Moon in this issue for more detail).

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. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 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 bring a benefit to the applicants, BGANZ members and the wider industry.

2021 BGANZ award winners • BGANZ Professional Development Award 2021: Kate Roud, RBG Victoria • BGANZ/American Public Gardens Association Award 2021: Raydeen Cuffe, Wellington Botanic Gardens

2022 BGANZ awards • BGANZ Professional Development Award 2022 (closing date 31 July 2022), value AUD$2,000 • BGANZ Young Member Award 2022 (closing date 31 July 2022) value AUD$500 • BGANZ/American Public Gardens Association Award 2022 (closing date 31 March 2022) value ~US$800

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 Victoria 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 in this issue).



WHAT’S NEW 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. Email Sam Moon for more information.

3. 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 and in the regular PHA article in this issue.

4. 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 issue.

5. 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.

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.



WHAT’S NEW The BGANZ Web Content Manager works closely with me, 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.

The evolution of BGANZ As we go to press, BGANZ Council is in the process of concluding proposals for Company Structure and Governance changes. If members agree, BGANZ will transition from an Association to a Company structure. This will ensure BGANZ is meeting current legal requirements and enable BGANZ to bring a wide range of skills onto the BGANZ Board. Further, an application for Direct Gift Recipient (DGR) status will be lodged with the Australian Commonwealth Government. If successful, this will enable BGANZ to attract a wider source of funds. Increased funding is critical to ensure BGANZ can progress new and existing projects.

BGANZ Committee (formerly Council): how do I get elected? If member approve the proposed changes, BGANZ Committee will replace BGANZ Council. Members will be elected in a similar way to the current Council. Details to be announced. Several members have recently asked: ‘how do I get on to Council?’ If and when changes are made to Council or Committee, members will be notified of changes through email, social media and the website. Current Council membership is explained on the website here, but if you have further questions please contact me,

BGANZ returning and new members (financial year beginning July 2021) We welcome all new and returning members. Thanks for your support and we look forward to your involvement in BGANZ. Welcome to new Arboretum member – Peter Francis Points Arboretum.




Australasian Seed Science Conference 2021: Linking seeds with needs; securing our future in a changing world Dr Cath Offord, Principal Research Scientist, Australian PlantBank, Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan, Australian Institute of Botanical Science; Dr Sal Norton, Leader, Australian Grains Genebank, Agriculture Victoria; Dr Lydia Guja, Manager, National Seed Bank, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Damian Wrigley, National Coordinator, Australian Seed Bank Partnership

Cath Offord

Sal Norton

Lydia Guja

Damian Wrigley

The Australasian Seed Science Conference 2021 was hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) and opened by Costa Georgiadis as a global virtual event from 6−10 September 2021 with 425 delegates from 34 countries. This international meeting followed on from the National Seed Science Forum of 2016 and presented the latest advances in seed science across the conservation and agricultural sectors. The conference was delivered across four key themes with two days of plenary and three days of workshops. The Partnership would like to acknowledge the support of our partners and sponsors as well as our Organising and Scientific Committees, special guests and delegates for helping to make the conference an important opportunity for collaboration across the conservation and agricultural seed sectors in Australia and overseas.



CONFERENCES The authors would also like to acknowledge the ASSC 2021 Scientific and Organising Committees for their efforts to synthesise the vast amount of information presented throughout the various conference sessions.

Responding to hailstorms, COVID-19 and embracing a digital platform The conference was originally scheduled to take place in April 2020 as an in-person event hosted by the ANBG. In January 2020 a major hailstorm passed directly over the ANBG and many parts of Canberra, significantly impacting the living collections at the ANBG, causing the loss of our major accommodation partner and dinner venue. We thought this would be the most challenging issue for the conference, however, COVID-19 soon saw us postpone to September 2021 and change from an in-person meeting to a fully virtual event. When we started planning back in 2019, one of our key goals was to increase the engagement of international delegates. While we missed the opportunity to catch up with colleagues in person, embracing a fully virtual platform enabled us to welcome many more delegates to the conversation. The conference committees were thrilled to be able to improve our reach internationally and hope that this encourages new scientific collaborations in the years ahead.

Delegate ‘photo’ from the Australasian Seed Science Conference 2021. Credit: ASBP.



Conference themes 1. Seed biology and evolutionary ecology – Unlocking the challenges of germination, dormancy and seed ecology in a changing world. 2. Seed sourcing and end-use – Considering genetic diversity, restoration and translocations as well as sector-specific approaches to seed conservation and use. 3. Seed and gene bank management – The ins and outs of managing ex situ seed banks and gene banks and the methods for maximising seed quality and longevity. 4. Seeds in culture and society – Sharing stories and learning about historical, socio-cultural, and legal practices of seed conservation, use, exchange, and repatriation, including collaborations between traditional use, community, and ex situ seed banks and gene banks.

Theme 1 – Seed biology and evolutionary ecology Our first theme for the conference was chaired by Dr Adrienne Nicotra and welcomed 24 authors including the keynote speaker Dr Si Chong Chen from the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Dr Chen looked at biomass allocation across seed and diaspore functional components, presenting the findings from intraspecific and interspecific studies, improving the available knowledge of the variation of seed functional components. Dr Chen’s findings suggest that smaller seeds invest proportionally more biomass in protective tissues than do larger seeds, a finding that agrees with traditional ideas that some small seeds may have advantages in physical defence. Studies such as this are important for improving our collective understanding of plant reproductive strategies. The 23 talks and posters in this session demonstrated how the study of seed traits is contributing to our understanding of plants’ reproductive strategies and how these are driving species distribution under climate change, as well as how to manage species under other threats such as increased fire severity and frequency. Several studies highlighted clearly important, but less studied topics, such as the role of ploidy in seed germination and the understanding of the seed microbiome. The area of seed biology and the ecology of the microbiome are relatively well understood in the agricultural sector, but less so in the conservation and restoration sector, making this an exciting emerging theme for many seed scientists.

Theme 2 – Seed sourcing and end-use The second session was chaired by Dr David Merritt from the Western Australian Seed Centre, Kings Park and welcomed Professor Robert Henry from the University of Queensland as the keynote speaker. Professor Henry outlined rapid recent advances in genome analysis technologies THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


that allow their application to the collection and use of genetic resources. This technology will become increasingly important to the rapid identification of the genetic and molecular basis of important plant traits, and greatly enhances our ability to manipulate these traits in breeding and production, both in the conservation and utilisation of Australian plant resources in crop improvement and climate adaptation. A major take-home message from Professor Henry’s keynote was his recommendation that seed scientists commit to sequencing the genome of all species. Prioritising the sequencing of the genome of all native species will deliver substantial knowledge gains from a relatively small per-species investment. Later in the session Dr Marlien van der Merwe from the Australian Institute of Botanical Science highlighted the application of genome sequencing to inform seed sampling strategies for capturing species diversity, and recommended prioritising separate maternal line collections to enable further investigative studies. Other emerging themes from the 14 presentations in this session included the development of a seed industry accreditation scheme in Western Australia by the Revegetation Industry Association of Western Australia and ways in which a similar scheme might be achieved Australia-wide. Also included in this theme were papers that referenced the emergence of science and practice-based guidelines like the recently revised Florabank Guidelines and the Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia guidelines (Germplasm Guidelines) as well as examples of collaboration and sharing between seed banks,

Screenshots of the keynote speakers and special guests of the ASSC 2021. Clockwise from top left – Costa Georgiardis, Dr Sichong Chen, Professor Robert Henry, Dr Elinor Breman, Dr Ola T Westengen, Prof Brad Sherman, Dr Terri Janke and Dr Sally Norton. Credit: ASBP.

and the promisingly large-scale restoration occurring in various parts of Australia and Cambodia. Authors reiterated the importance of not only producing large numbers of seeds that will germinate and establish, but also of greatly increasing the diversity of species that are available for restoration projects.

Theme 3 – Seed and gene bank management Theme 3 was chaired by Dr David Bush from the Australian Tree Seed Centre at CSIRO Black Mountain. Dr Bush welcomed Dr Sal Norton who provided an insight into the workings of the Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham, Victoria, and Dr Elinor Breman who presented a complementary perspective on the inner workings of the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. These keynotes provided delegates with an opportunity to compare the common and differing purposes of gene and seed banks, challenging all of us to explore how



CONFERENCES facilities such as these can learn from each other. Theme 3 continued to provide delegates with an opportunity to compare and appreciate the diversity of gene and seed banks, including their multiple purposes from across the Australasian region and further afield, including Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Japan and Syria. Further papers presented in Theme 3 revealed the increased effort dedicated to the implementation of cryopreservation for exceptional species, highlighting that it is now possible for seed scientists to start implementing cryostorage for the germplasm of many species. Other papers stressed how critical it is to continue investigating the storage requirements for poorly understood species. Other technological advances presented included research that improves the understanding of factors that relate to poor seed storage behaviour, and the development of a predictor key that seed scientists can use to determine storage behaviour. Many of these seed identification tools will be further developed as more information becomes available. Machine learning was another hot topic throughout this theme. The rise of digitisation and databasing of seed images was captured in several talks that looked at this emerging technology for its applicability to the identification and management of seeds in ex situ collections.

Theme 4 – Seeds in culture and society This theme was an important element to the conference program, providing delegates with the ability to better understand the complexity of sourcing, storing and utilising seeds, while respecting and acknowledging the importance of seeds in the cultures of First Nations peoples. The theme was chaired by Dr Katherine Whitehouse from the Australian Grains Genebank and was headed by three extraordinary keynote speakers who illustrated the need for seed scientists to better understand, and navigate, culturally and legally appropriate uses of seeds and other germplasm. Dr Terri Janke from Terri Janke and Associates discussed the True Tracks Protocols as a framework for engagement with First Nations peoples. Professor Brad Sherman from the University of Queensland provided a comprehensive synopsis of the Nagoya Protocol, and how current uncertainty about its use could be addressed. Finally, Dr Ola T Westengen illustrated how seedbanks collaborating across jurisdictions can safeguard crop diversity, illustrating his point by sharing his perspective on helping with the rescue and reconstitution of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) seedbank in Syria while working as the head of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The talks and posters in this session highlighted varying examples of the ways that germplasm and traditional knowledge are being used in developing new crops. The final talks in this theme focused on the importance of partnerships and collaborating across facilities and institutions to improve outcomes for native flora, and why strong and enduring partnerships are vital to the future of germplasm conservation. THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 57 SUMMER 2021


CONFERENCES Launch of the third edition of the Germplasm Guidelines On the second day of plenary Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson, from the Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC), welcomed Professor Tim Entwisle from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria to officially launch the third edition of the Germplasm Guidelines. These guidelines were developed through the collaborative efforts of many experts throughout Australia and overseas and will serve as a valuable tool for those working in the collection, management and use of native germplasm. The ANPC and members of the Australian Seed Bank Partnership have worked closely over many months to ensure these guidelines are fit for purpose and will provide seed scientists and those working in other areas of germplasm conservation, such as in botanic gardens and nurseries, with practical guidance for better plant conservation outcomes. More information about the Germplasm Guidelines is available in the article, Best practice guidelines a win for collaboration, in this issue, as well as on the ANPC website,

Workshops and network discussions We closed out the week with the aim of further sharing our collective knowledge and improving opportunities for collaboration across the seed science sector. Workshop 1 presented delegates with the basics of ex situ seed conservation including guidance on preparing and undertaking field collecting, techniques for seed cleaning and processing and general considerations for the longterm storage of orthodox seeds. Workshop 2 was funded by the Australian Academy of Science and incorporated the Fenner Conference on the Environment 2021: Exceptional times; exceptional plants. This workshop drew on examples from the Germplasm Guidelines, providing delegates with the opportunity to learn more about advanced germplasm conservation techniques. Workshop 3 helped delegates to practice using the R statistical software to improve their ability to analyse and interpret seed-related data. To complement the workshops delegates were invited to join a discussion on whether an Australasia-Pacific seed network would benefit seed scientists and how such a network might look. Over 50 delegates attended the discussion with BGANZ, represented by Emma Bodley from Auckland Botanic Gardens. We anticipate discussions will continue in the years ahead and look forward to meeting many of the same delegates again at the Global Botanic Gardens Congress in Melbourne in September 2022.



Special edition of the Australasian Journal of Botany and Australasian Plant Conservation Bulletin The program findings and emerging themes will be captured in a special issue of the Australian Journal of Botany and a special edition of the Australasian Plant Conservation Bulletin. The ASSC 2021 Scientific Committee is reviewing the talks and abstracts and will identify a selection of suitable papers for each special edition. The Australian Journal of Botany issue is scheduled for publication in late 2022 and will be headed up by Dr Mark Ooi from the University of New South Wales. Mark is an experienced journal editor having been an editor for Seed Science Research and the American Journal of Botany.

Australasian Seed Science Conference 2025 During the closing session Dr Lydia Guja, host representative for the ANBG, invited Dr Sal Norton to announce that the Victorian Government’s Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham, Victoria will host the Australasian Seed Science Conference in 2025. The 2025 Conference will be delivered as a hybrid event with a comprehensive scientific program, targeted workshops and field trips including the Australian Grains Genebank’s facilities, Indigenous seed business operations, regional national parks, and local agricultural field sites. We look forward to welcoming BGANZ members with an interest in seed science to join us in Horsham in 2025.

Reference AJ Martyn Yenson, CA Offord, PF Meagher, T Auld, D Bush, DJ Coates et al., Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia: strategies and guidelines for developing, managing and utilising ex situ collections, 3rd edn, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Canberra, 2021.



Thank you to all our conference partners and sponsors who made the 2021 meeting possible.