Come to a Friends' Craft Group meet up

  • The Friends' Craft Groups welcome visitors to their meeting or demonstration days

  • New members, especially beginners, visitors and non-members are all welcome

  • Come along, watch and ask questions of any member of the Craft Groups

  • Join one of the Craft Groups and take part in Craft Workshops

  • Join the Friends to become involved

  • see below for information about the groups and their meeting and demonstration days

          Plant Craft Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, near H Gate

Time:             10.30 am - 2 pm - Dates for each group listed below
Cost:              Free to Members and Non-Members, all welcome     
Bookings:      Bookings are not required    
Enquiries:     (03) 9650 6398

Basketry Craft Group

This Craft Group meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. The Group investigates the use of plant material, Australian and introduced, to make a wide range of baskets. Techniques range from traditional stitching and weaving to free form construction with vines and creepers. In recent times the Group has made basketry items from corn husks, pine needles, vine prunings and red dogwood, and experimented with dyeing basketry materials.

At our February meeting we'll put together a calendar of projects for the year, so put your thinking caps on! Inspire others in the group and bring in something to show and tell - it could be a basket of yours, something you've bought or a photo of some interesting basket that we might make during the year.

The Basketry Group is interested in making some larger works which can be displayed in the Cottage garden. We will be working on ideas over the coming months to develop designs and sourcing materials. 

Read further insights on Basketry ...

Meetings/Demonstrations:          16 August, 20 September, 18 October, 15 November 2017

Fibre Craft Group

This Craft Group meets on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. The Group specialises in the use of the plant fibre fabrics and threads cotton, linen and jute. They study ancient crafts, as well as traditional and modern ones. They use the skills with a view to their appreciation in everyday use. In 2016 we spent a number of meetings on 'scrumbling' or free form knitting. Read more about this ....

We are beginning 2017 by exploring Crewel embroidery, also called Jacobean embroidery. It is a traditional English style of embroidery using crewel wool which is a 2 ply worsted wool. The stitches used are the same as those used in other embroidery styles eg. chain stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch. Using a wool thread gives the embroidery a thicker more padded appearance than you achieve with cotton or silk. We hope to spend a couple of months on this, to have time to perfect the technique, and finish a small project.

Meetings/Demonstrations:     8 August, 12 September, 10 October, 14 November 2017

Natural Dye Group

This Group meets on the 1st Wednesday of the month. The Group works with natural dyes and researches their preparation and use in the dying of cotton, silk and other natural fibres. The dyes are extracted from the leaves, flowers, fruit, stems and roots of plants. Some of the dyes used have been madder, logwood, camomile, eucalyptus, thryptomeme, correa and indigo. The Group also uses the Shibori technique to pattern cloth. A reference collection has been established and is stored in the von Mueller Resource Centre.

Four members of the Natural Dye Group were presented with their 35 years volunteer service award at the recent Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens AGM. It’s been lovely to welcome three new members to our group – Wendy Bowler, Jan Herlinger & Pamela Renard.

Courtesy of Lyn Zeevardaar many of us now have some very colourful and distinctive socks as a result of her Shibori Over-dyeing workshop in September. 

Glenys Clissold and Mary Jost will be running our 2-day ‘Indigo & Shibori’ workshop which takes place on Saturdays, 25 February & 4 March 2017. Several other members of the group will be assisting.
Meetings/Demonstrations:      2 August, 6 September, 4 October, 1 November 2017

Paper Group

The Group experiments with plant fibres and recycled paper to make handmade paper and sculptural forms. In recent times they have made plant fibre papers using New Zealand flax, tried various ways of decorating paper, both commercial and handmade, and investigated different types of bookbinding.

Read more about the Paper Group......

Meetings/Demonstrations:    the Paper Group is hoping to meet on the 4th Wednesday of the month please phone Jean on 8588 1824 if you are interested.

Plant Card Group

This Group meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month. The Group presses flowers, leaves, grasses, weeds and even seaweed and uses them creatively to decorate home-made and commercial cards and bookmarks. They specialise in landscapes and creatures, and seasonal themes. 

The group has been producing some beautiful cards with Margaret Sutherland creating amazing creative creatures from unexpected plants.

We hope to increase the supply of cards for Counterpart as ‘Cards for Kids’ will be held on 6 July and we would like to have plenty of cards for the parents to buy. The Card Kits which Rosemarie Cerny has been making will also be available, in case some of the children should want extra material to take home.

All contributions of pressed flowers and leaves will be welcomed to make up card kits for the day, and all members of the group will be on hand for guiding children. This request for flowers and leaves comes with the reminder, that all dry and living plant material for Plant Craft Cottage garden and craft purposes must be kept in a sealed bag while transporting within RBGV managed lands.

Meetings/Demonstrations:      17 August, 21 September, 19 October, 16 November 2017


Pot Pourri Group

This Group meets on the 2nd Friday of the month. The Group dries, strips and mixes herbs, spices, fragrant barks, leaves and flowers to make perfumed mixes having a variety of uses. Some of the items they make include both moist and dry pot pourri, pomanders, drawer sachets and insect repellents. They are also experienced in sand-drying flowers to retain their shape and colour.

At our April Meeting we stripped Southernwood, Wormwood, Tansy etc. for a Moth Repellent mixture. You might have noticed this plant material was hang-drying under the eaves at the Cottage. To this we added Bay leaves, Rosemary, Lavender, Cloves and Orange peel. This is being left to mature and will be ready for sale in May. Moist Pot Pourri Sachets and bags of Lemon Verbena were added to Counterpart stock.
Read more about The Art of Pot Pourri
Meetings/Demonstrations:      11 August, 8 September, 13 October, 10 November 2017

Cottage Counterpart Craft Shop 

The cottage crafters produce a wide variety plant craft items and other material for sale in Counterpart, the Craft Shop in the Cottage. Some of the items produced include kitchen herbal wreaths, scrapbooking kits, flower holders, garden tool holders, rosemary salt, cushions and a wide assortment of bags.

Take the opportunity to visit the Cottage Craft Shop full of hand made gifts. Hand dyed items, beautiful cards, Friends' calendars and cards, and festive themed gifts. Parking available on Alexandra Avenue and enter the Royal Botanic Gardens via H Gate.  The Craft Cottage is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 3 pm and the 3rd Sunday each month

Meetings/Demonstrations:    Visitors and volunteers most welcome - please come to the shop in the cottage during opening hours.

Cottage Garden Group

This Group meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. The Group maintains the Cottage garden with advice and assistance from the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Plants suitable for use by the Craft Groups can be found in the garden. To join this group please contact the Friends' office.

A number of 30-degree plus days, together with not a lot of rain in the early weeks of the new year left the garden looking a bit ‘down’, this being accentuated by it being a time of year when the late spring and early summer perennials had finished flowering and were off for a bit of rest and recuperation!  However, although March was consistently very warm, we were blessed with a little rain at various times during the month and then were treated to some really good falls in early April and the garden looks much happier as a result.  In recent weeks Rosemary has been flowering cheerfully, the Blood Lilies have poked their scarlet ‘brushes’ through the earth, little clumps of Zephyranthes have been blooming happily as have the Ceratostigmas and several of the Salvias, and these, amongst others, are making the garden look quite bright again.

A number of new plants were acquired from the Growing Friends Nursery recently and these have been planted out in various parts of the garden with several being added to the main bed in front of the Cottage with the thought that they will add some additional colour and interest there.  These include Anigozanthos ‘Triple Treat’ (Kangaroo Paw), Coreopsis ‘Limerock Ruby’ and ‘Mango Punch‘ and Pelargonium reniforme which has grey foliage and dainty magenta flowers.

On 28 April we were pleased to welcome Michael McNabb (RBGV Horticulture) who met with the Garden Group and spent an hour or so explaining to us the long-term vision of the RBGV, water usage and choice of plants, all with a view to impending climate change.  It is hoped that Michael can visit us on a more regular basis in the future.


Two Special Interest Groups focus on the day-to-day activities of the Cottage.

House Group

This Group is responsible for household duties at the Cottage.

Roster Group  

The members of this important Group are the hosts in the Cottage each day it is open. They introduce our local, interstate and overseas visitors to the history of the Cottage and the range of plant related crafts practised.