2021 Friends’ Christmas Raffle

2021 Friends' Christmas Raffle winners

1st PRIZE
David O’Beirne
Ticket Number: #238

2nd PRIZE
Michael Palmer
Ticket Number: #503

3rd PRIZE
Bud Batrouney
Ticket Number: #917

4th PRIZE
Frances Awcock
Ticket Number: #313

5th PRIZE
Sue Finnie
Ticket Number: #549

6th PRIZE
Jane Douglas
Ticket Number: #417

7th PRIZE
Joanne Woods
Ticket Number: #520

8th PRIZE
Libby Hobson
Ticket Number: #1128

9th PRIZE
Louise Collins
Ticket Number: #721

10th PRIZE
Sandra Dent
Ticket Number: #206

11th PRIZE
Mark Ellison
Ticket Number: #829

12th PRIZE
Elizabeth McRae
Ticket Number: #289

13th PRIZE
Lyn STARY
Ticket Number: #691

14th PRIZE
Rosemary Cotter
Ticket Number: #80

Prizes to be collected from the Friends’ Office, Observatory Gate Lodge by 17 December. 

FRIENDS’ ULTIMATE WEEKEND

Enjoy both the Friends’ Preloved Book Sale and our first Plant Sale in over two years.
That is music to everyone’s ears! 
Over the last few months we have collected over 1000  fabulous pre-loved books for you to browse at the books sale and add to your collections.  Quality books about Gardens, speciality plants, botanic art, gardening and so much more.  We are also still collecting so if you have some books you no longer use and you think others will enjoy, please contact us and we can organise pick up and drop off events@frbgmelb.org.au
Whilst you are at the book sale on the Saturday, pop down to the lawn in front of the Glasshouses (the usual spot for our plant sales) to pick up some gorgeous plants for your garden or Christmas gifts. Advanced trees, luscious Vireyas and so many more plants will be available.  The Growing Friends are happy to be back in the nursery and are all looking forward to seeing you. 
Don’t miss the opportunity to pick up some great pre-loved books (some of the books we have received are just amazing!) and some quality plants from your favourite nursery. 
Pre-loved Book SaleSaturday and Sunday 4-5 December 10am – 3pm.  Friends’ Plant SaleSaturday 4 December 10am – 3pm. See you there!

Spring Online Season Pass

Spring Online Season Pass

NEW!!  A Season of Joy!

Launching today together with the Friends’ fabulous Spring Events Program is an opportunity to purchase a ‘Season Pass’ for all online talks.

We know lockdowns and restrictions can be tough so we wanted to bring you something to look forward to with very regular online presentations, from a great line up of speakers, between now and the end of Spring.

Our amazing Events Team have created a wonderful Spring Program including:

  • ‘Celebrating, Understanding and Protecting Rare Wattles’ with Neville Walsh – Wednesday 1 Sep, 5pm
  •  Fairview Park, Hawthorn and surrounds  with Liz Yewers – Friday 3 Sep, 10am
  • ‘Celebrating our Herbarium’ with Alison Vaughan – Monday 6 Sep, 5pm
  •  The Arid Garden with Anne Peterson – Thursday 9 Sep, 2pm
  • A year (or two) at Kew Gardens with Tim Entwisle – Tuesday 14 Sep, 2pm
  • ‘Orchids of Victoria – the Weird and Wonderful’ with Neil Anderton – Friday 17 Sep, 9:30am
  • ‘English Country Gardens’ with Cathy Trinca – Tuesday 21 Sep, 9:30am
  • ‘Celebrating our Trees at the Gardens’ with Charlie Carroll – Tuesday 5 Oct, 5pm
  • ‘The Victorian Conservation Seedbank and Cranbourne Gardens are Raising Rarity’ with Meg Hirst and Russell Larke – Wednesday 27 Oct, 5pm
  • ‘Celebrating our RBGVM Team’ with Lynsey Poore – Wednesday 17 Nov, 5pm
  • ‘Wild:  Naturalistic Garden’ with Claire Takacs – Thursday 25, Nov 6pm

A full description about all of these online events is on our website for you explore  or you can also see the full list in the new edition of the Spring Botanic News which is available from today.

The Season Pass is great value with at least 12 online presentations being offered for $90.  That’s 3 FREE talks!

If you think a ‘Spring Season Pass’ for online presentations is just what you need during these very crazy times, visit the Friends’ online shop.

Things to note:

  • The Season Pass is available only for members of the Melbourne Friends. If you’re not a member, you are welcome to join here.
  • At least 12 online events will be presented during the Spring season… although it is very possible more will be added to the program and you will get these basically FREE!
  • As these events are online they are unlikely to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions and therefore refunds will only apply as per our Refund Policy.  
  • You will be automatically booked into all online talks from the date of purchase.
  • You will receive the Zoom link for each talk on the day of the presentation as per our standard practice for online events.
  • If Melbourne re-opens and Mueller Hall sessions open up for bookings in-person, you’ll still be registered to attend online.   If you do wish to attend in-person, you’ll need to register and pay for an in-person ticket. You will not be able to upgrade your online registration.

The Friends’ Photography Group engages with the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne through photography. The group meets monthly to either photograph a specific element within the gardens, such as a particular plant species or collection, buildings, autumn colours, or to practise certain photographic techniques such as composition, macro photography, black and white images.

To join the Photo Group you need to be a member of the Friends.

The group meets in the Gardens at 10am on the third Wednesday of each month. Over approximately two hours, group members have the opportunity to take photos reflecting the monthly theme, discuss possible future group activities and spend some social time together. 

The group has developed a program for 2021 of monthly photographic themes and some other events.

See program.

It is a flexible program that will be updated during the year. The themes aim to respond to members’ interests and expand their photographic and botanic knowledge.

Many photos taken by members of the Friends’ Photo Group are presented on the group’s Flickr site: www.flickr.com/groups/photo_group_frbgm/

All members are encouraged to upload photos on the monthly theme to this Flickr page.

The Friends’ Photography Group engages with the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne through photography. The group meets monthly to either photograph a specific element within the gardens, such as a particular plant species or collection, buildings, autumn colours, or to practise certain photographic techniques such as composition, macro photography, black and white images.

To join the Photo Group you need to be a member of the Friends.

The group meets in the Gardens at 10am on the third Wednesday of each month. Over approximately two hours, group members have the opportunity to take photos reflecting the monthly theme, discuss possible future group activities and spend some social time together. 

The group has developed a program for 2021 of monthly photographic themes and some other events.

See program.

It is a flexible program that will be updated during the year. The themes aim to respond to members’ interests and expand their photographic and botanic knowledge.

Many photos taken by members of the Friends’ Photo Group are presented on the group’s Flickr site: www.flickr.com/groups/photo_group_frbgm/

All members are encouraged to upload photos on the monthly theme to this Flickr page.

The Acacia Project Book

The Acacia Project - Illustrating Rare, endangered and unusual Acacia

The Whirlies, Botanical illustrators of the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne (FRBGM) recently completed a group project illustrating some of the rare, endangered and unusual Acacia species growing in the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens (RBGV).

Meeting to paint weekly, over the years the artists have undertaken joint projects such as depicting the Oaks and the Eucalypts growing in the RBGV gardens. The Acacia Project was proposed for a number of reasons. The wattles are one of Australia’s most popular and most recognisable flowers but are not often illustrated by botanical artists. It became a common interest within the group. Local botanists have a particular interest in acacias and it seemed a good opportunity to highlight these threatened plants, examples of which could be seen growing in the gardens.

The parameters of the project were laid out, species were allocated to artists and the work began to identify the particular characteristics and learn more about the natural habitat and endemic location of each wattle.

The Whirlies invited Botanist Dan Murphy to introduce them to the acacias. Immediately they could see what a diverse and interesting genus they were dealing with. As a group they toured the gardens in the buggies to see where each particular Acacia species was growing. During the project artists made frequent trips back to witness the seasonal changes in their plant. Sally Stewart, the Herbarium Librarian prepared a display of historic botanical references depicting Acacias. Only a few of the artists had attempted scientific botanical illustrations before, so we were interested to see how professional artists had rendered this subject.

The project was interesting because of its different facets. The Whirlies painted the image and incorporated the particular identifying features, the habit, flowers and seeds. They each pressed a specimen of the plant for the Herbarium and a video was compiled explaining the project by a number of the participating Whirlies. Finally, a small exhibition is planned to display the works in the RBGV Visitors Centre, to coincide with National Wattle Day on 1 September. The Friends (FRBGM) have invited Neville Walsh, a respected Botanist in Acacia circles to present a public lecture on Rare and Endangered Acacias on 1 September and a book ‘The Acacia Project’ featuring the botanical illustrations of these threatened species will be available for purchase from and after the exhibition.

All proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards Acacia research at the National Herbarium of Victoria.  We do hope you will support our fundraising by purchasing this publication.

Botanic News Spring 2021

Botanic News Spring 2021

Enjoy your Spring issue of Botanic News.

Your latest edition of botanical goodness is ready to enjoy including a spectacular events program with flexible options for both online and onsite activities.

We reflect on Volunteer Week Celebrations and the presentation of the Entwisle Medal to two very worthy volunteers.

See the new Garden Explorers, funded by the Friends’ Trust Fund, in their finery. 

Enjoy a sneak peak of ‘The Acacia Project’ Botanical Art Exhibition coming up soon and scholarship report from Carry Lee, one of the RBGV’s Visitor Experience Officers.

Mary Ward has provided another wonderful article, this time featuring the women who have played a significant role in the Gardens 175 years and Chris Cole provides us with an update on the Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens.

Whilst COVID is quite prevalent and the Friends are impacted by lockdowns, the Friends Council have chosen to move back to online editions of Botanic News.  We apologise for this inconvenience as we know many of you cherish your printed copy of Botanic News. We do hope you still enjoy this issue and it is a welcome break from COVID related news.

Additionally, we regret that some of the event dates for early September and the dates of ‘The Acacia Project’ Exhibition are unfortunately not current due to the extension of lockdown #6 in Melbourne however you can keep up to date with changes to events via our weekly eNews and by visiting the Friends’ website https://www.rbgfriendsmelbourne.org/whats-on/

It’s now time to grab a cuppa, sit in your favourite chair and enjoy another wonderful issue of Botanic News.

A ‘touch of red’

A ‘touch of red’

William Guifoyle, it is often, liked a ‘touch of red ‘in his landscaping. The Natal Flame Bush fits the bill. This very showy shrub or small tree is growing in several places in the Gardens, in the beds around Garden House, the Rockery near the Eastern Lawn, the Bell Shed Bed and the Gathering Bed.

Its scientific name is Alberta magna and it belongs to the Rubiaceae family, known for its sweet scented flowers especially in the genus Gardenia. Coffee and Cinchona from which we derive quinine are in the same family. It is a protected tree in the family Rubiaceae.  The Natal Flame Bush was named by Ernst Meyer a lecturer in medicine at the University of Gottingen in honour of Albertus Magnus a famous German philosopher in the 12-13th centuries. The specific name magna means great or big. This species is native to Natal in South Africa. The African common name is ‘breekhout’ and refers to the wood, which is useless, but the bark is used in traditional medicine.

It is found near rivers and streams and has handsome gardenia-like foliage. It reaches a greater height in the wild but in cultivation only to 2-3 m.  The leaves are simple and opposite and a bright shiny green.

Tree collectors treasure it for its beauty because it puts on, in autumn to summer a showy display or brilliant red tubular flowers. The individual flowers are 2.5 cm long while the calyx is hairy. The small fruits have large scarlet wings formed from the elongated calyx lobes.

This is a very attractive tree in our Gardens and well worth seeking out to admire the red flowers.

Continuing on my theme of red … it is Banksia time at Cranbourne. Banksias come into their own in the autumn and visitors marvel at the range and colour variants on show. It is Banksia menziesii that really catches the eye with its striking red flower heads. You can see why it has common names such as Firewood Banksia, Port wine Banksia or Strawberry Banksia due to the colour of the inflorescences.

It hails from Western Australia growing from Perth north to the Murchison River in sandy soils in scrubland or low woodland. It can reach to 10m tall but is usually a low shrub 1-3m.The serrated leaves are a dull green with new growth a paler grey green. In August, the flower heads are very prominent with two colours; red and yellow. The flower spike has numerous individual flowers and can be up to 1043 per spike. Apparently, the species has more flower colour variants than any other Banksia species. The individual flowers open from the bottom while those at the top are unopened and appear in neat rows.

Charles Fraser first collected the species in 1827 during the Sir James Stirling exploration of the Swan River. Robert Brown named the species in honour of Archibald Menzies naturalist on the HMS Discovery under George Vancouver who discovered King George sound in 1791. So a very interesting history.

A visit to Cranbourne is a must if you admire our stunning Banksias which are native to Australia with one exception of one in New Guinea.

Words and images by Lynsey Poore

THE FLORAL EMBLEM OF VICTORIA

The Floral Emblem of Victoria - The Pink or Common Heath

After the good rains, many of us may be eagerly looking forward to visiting verdant rural or coastal places in Victoria as the COVID restrictions are eased.  If it is to be in late Spring, there may still be a chance to see the last of the flowering heaths and wildflowers that grow in the bushlands.

Each State and Territory of Australia has its own distinctive and identifiable floral emblem that can be used on flags or coat of arms.  After several years of deliberation the Pink or Common Heath, Epacris impressa was unanimously chosen in 1958 to be Victoria’s official floral emblem.  Victoria was the first Australian State or Territory to officially select a floral emblem and it is included on the Victorian Coat of Arms.

Early in September, during a Gardening Australia program, Jane Edmunson walked the heath growing area of Victoria between Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.  Jane met with Pete Crowcroft, an education leader with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee who said this region has about one quarter of the State’s native plants including the Pink or Common Heath and over 90 species of orchid as an added attraction.

The scientific name of the Common Heath is Epacris impressaEpacris is from the Greek epi meaning upon, and acris, a summit which refers to the high altitude habitats of some species.  Impressa is from the Latin meaning indented, referring to an indentation on each petal around the base of the tube-like flower that has 5 petals.  It is a member of the Ericaceae family and is related to a number of other heaths.  It is a welcome pop of colour during Winter when many plants are dormant.  The Common Heath flowers from late Winter through to late Spring and grows to around 1- 1.5 metres high.

Victoria’s floral emblem grows in the southern part of Victoria.  Some of the places plant can be found are in the Grampians in the National Park, the Little Desert, Portland and on the Anglesea heathland.  The Common Heath grows in Tasmania too and also crosses the borders into South Australia and New South Wales.  Closer to home for Melbournians it grows in both the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne. 

A huge tapestry of Pink Heath, created by the tapestry weavers at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in 1980, hangs in the Sofitel Hotel on Collins Street, Melbourne. An equally splendid tapestry of the Golden Wattle is a companion piece that is also hanging nearby in the first floor foyer.  They are worth a visit when Melbourne city opens up again soon.

Image credit: Joan Mason

The Floral Emblem of Western Australia – The Red and Green Kangaroo Paw

The Floral Emblem of Western Australia - The Red and Green Kangaroo Paw

When Spring bounces into our gardens and native bushlands, we are treated to the colourful blooms and the vibrant greens of plants we have nurtured or waited for during Winter.  One spectacular and naturally occurring example comes to mind – the wild flower season of south west of Western Australia.

Each State and Territory of Australia has its own floral emblem, celebrating the wonderful diversity of Australia’s native plants.  The floral emblem for Western Australia is the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw, Anigozanthos manglesii.  This plant is native to the south west of the State and has been the floral emblem of Western Australia since 1960.  The Kangaroo Paw of which there are 12 species, belongs to the genus Anigozanthos meaning irregular flower and was originally named by the French botanist, Jacques-Julian Houten de Labillardiere, who visited the region whilst on an expedition in 1792. 

The floral emblem was named after Robert Mangles who grew the plant from seed in England during the 1830’s.  His brother, Capt. James Mangles who was in the Navy visited Western Australia in 1831.  Both men were 19th Century horticultural enthusiasts and were keenly interested in the native plants of Western Australia. 

Red and Green Kangaroo Paw plants consist of grey-green strap-like leaves that grow to about 30cm in height. The hairy, bottle-green, unscented flowers occur on reddish stems up to 80cm in height.  Kangaroo Paw plants are wonderful bird attractors to the garden because they together with some marsupials and insects are the pollinators of this plant.  Pollen rubs onto the head of the bird such as a honeyeater or a wattlebird when it feeds on the nectar and as it hops from flower to flower it shares the pollen with next flower.  Amazingly, the differing individual shape of each flower species means plants are not crosspollinated because different parts of a bird’s head will brush different spots of each species of Kangaroo Paw.  Both native and hybrid species are great sun lovers blooming in full sun and require well drained sandy soil to flourish. They can be cut back severely after flowering.  They grow from a rhizome in both tall and short sizes suiting a variety of garden styles.

A couple of years ago, I was visiting a friend in Perth and spent time in the south west region of Western Australia.  The bushland is different to the east coast and for 45,000 years the region has been the home of the Noongar people, the traditional owners.  It is an excellent region to visit in Spring as it includes spectacular coastal vistas and from early Spring until November, the beautiful wildflowers are at their best including the Kangaroo Paw. This region is also host to the Margaret River wine growing region.  During the 1840’s both English and indigenous words were used when places were being named.  The then Governor, Hutt said some places should keep their Noongar names. In the dialect of the Noongar people the word ‘up’ means ‘place of’ and as a result there are quite a few place names ending in the suffix “up”.  Some that come to mind are, Yallingup – place of caves, Nannup – stopping place and Boyanup – place of quartz.

An interesting spot to visit in Spring 2021 perhaps!

Image credit: Malcolm Hobday

The Floral Emblem of South Australia – Sturt’s Desert Pea

The Floral Emblem of South Australia – Sturt’s Desert Pea

Sturt’s Desert Pea is an oldie and a goodie.  There are stories throughout time about its origins, discoveries and botanical names.  Although this species now commemorates the notable Captain Charles Sturt, the stories of Sturt’s Desert Pea began with a Dreamtime Story from when the world was young.  The Legend of the Sturt Desert Pea is a story of love, pain and loss and in that place where the tragedy occurred grew “The Flower of Blood” as the First Nations People call it.

The first explorers who ventured into the southern hemisphere were more interested in the cartography of the Great South Land.  In 1699, on his second exploratory visit to the west coast of Australia the former buccaneer, explorer and writer William Dampier (1651-1715) collected several botanical species including the desert pea.  He reportedly dried the specimens carefully, pressed the plants between pages of a book and took them together with some seeds, back to England.  Today they are in the Herbarium at Oxford University.

Sturt’s Desert Pea, Swainsona formosa is a member of the pea family, Fabaceae and it was adopted as the floral emblem of South Australia on 23 November 1961, using the name Clianthus formosus.  This distinctive plant is also on the current south Australian Coat of Arms.  Sturt’s Desert Pea grows in Australia in all States except Victoria and Tasmania thriving in arid regions that receive between 125 and 250 mm of rain each year.  The plant is a horizontal creeper that runs for up to 2 metres along the ground with soft, silky grey leaves.  The stems and leaves are covered in a hairy down.  The flower is about 9 cm long, like a bean blossom but larger.  The petals are a deep, vibrant red colour with a black swelling known as a boss in the centre.  The blooms cluster in groups of six to eight and the species creates a stunning display from Spring through to Summer.  Sturt’s Desert Pea seeds can lie dormant until the vital natural elements are in place for germination to occur.

In the 18th century, the pea belonged to the genus Clianthus as Clianthus dampieri and later became more widely known as Clianthus formosus. It was later reclassified in 1990 as Swainsona formosa the name by which it is officially known today.  The species was named after the English botanist Isaac Swainson (1746-1812) and formosa, Latin for beautiful.  Isaac Swainson was a keen botanist with an interest in medical botany.  He was devoted to preparing and successfully marketing a vegetable syrup known as ‘Syrop of De Velnos’ and reputedly made £5,000.

Although Captain Charles Sturt (1795-1869) did not find the inland sea he believed existed on his expedition to central Australia in 1844, Sturt did comment in his journal, Narrative of an Expedition upon the displays of Swainsona formosa.  He refers several times to the beauty of the desert pea in flower in contrast to the harsh nature of the plant’s habitat.

Sturt’s Desert Pea is a resilient, eye-catching plant with a story to tell.

Article by Marg Thomas.

Image: Swainsona formosa by Valda Jenkins