Botanic Gardens of South Australia, Part 1

To finish out their International Experience, the Fellows are spending two days with the Botanic Gardens of South Australia, a division of South Australia’s Department of Environment, Water, and Natural Resources. The Botanic Gardens include three garden sites–Adelaide, Mount Lofty, and Wittunga–and is the only institution outside of North America to be an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums.

The oldest of the South Australia Botanic Garden sites, Adelaide Botanic Garden was first opened to the public in 1857.

The oldest of the South Australia Botanic Garden sites, Adelaide Botanic Garden was first opened to the public in 1857.

The Fellows spent the morning at Adelaide Botanic Garden, where they met with Deputy Director Tony Kanellos and Collections and Horticulture Manager Andrew Carrick to discuss the Gardens’ latest strategic plan. The plan is centered on their new collections policy. The policy helps the garden determine how to preserve and build upon the plants, objects, buildings, and even vistas that are important to the organization.

The Fellows explore Adelaide Botanic Gardens' new wetland area with their guide, Andrew Carrick. The wetland cleans and stores rainwater runoff so that it can eventually be used to irrigate the garden.

The Fellows explore Adelaide Botanic Gardens’ new First Creek Wetland with their guide, Andrew Carrick. The wetland cleans and stores rainwater runoff, which will eventually be used to irrigate the garden.

As the Fellows learned on their morning tours, Adelaide Botanic Garden is perfectly poised to educate visitors about the timeless importance of plants. The garden is home to both the Santos Museum of Economic Botany, which showcases the historic food and fiber plants of Australia, and the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre, which protects future plant diversity by preserving millions of native plant seeds.

Originally built in 1881, the Santos Museum of Economic Botany displays models of hundreds of food and fiber plants that were critical to colonizing both Australia and the British Empire.

Originally built in 1881, the Santos Museum of Economic Botany displays models of hundreds of food and fiber plants that were critical to colonizing both Australia and the British Empire.

The day ended with an afternoon tour of Mount Lofty Botanic Garden. Mount Lofty features numerous hiking trails, collections of plants from around the world, and incredible views of the Piccadilly Valley.

Hiking trails at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden offer sweeping views of the South Australian landscape.

Hiking trails at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden offer sweeping views of the South Australian landscape.

Not up for a mountainside trek? Visitors can also enjoy peaceful walks around the garden's small lake.

Not up for a mountainside trek? Visitors can also enjoy peaceful walks around the garden’s small lake.

Check back in with us tomorrow to read about the final day of our Australian adventure!

The Fellows took full advantage of the interactive art pieces at the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.

The Fellows, taking full advantage of the interactive art at the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

 

Off to Adelaide!

Clear skies on the flight from Melbourne to Adelaide this morning.

Clear skies on the flight from Melbourne to Adelaide this morning.

As the Fellows embark on the final phase of their International Experience in Australia, they bid adieu to the great city of Melbourne and hailed west, greeting their final destination, Adelaide, with open arms.

Though time in Melbourne was brief, it was filled to the brim with educational experiences, new perspectives, and insightful lessons. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, comprised of the gardens Melbourne and Cranbourne, are complementary in nature and committed to providing avenues of community engagements at every turn. While Cranbourne gardens focuses on the in-depth interpretation of native plantings and national histories, the gardens in downtown Melbourne showcase a spectrum of collections from around the globe and have both domestic as well as international visitorship. The fascinating conversations that came from both sites proved to be both inspiring and enlightening.

Pedestrian friendly shopping centers offer a sense of vitality in the Central Business District.

A pedestrian-friendly promenade offers a sense of vitality in the Central Business District.

The city of Adelaide is home to approximately 1.3 million people as well as the Botanic Gardens of South Australia, including Adelaide Botanic Garden, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, and Wittunga Botanic Garden. The Fellows are excited to explore this new city and the vast horticultural knowledge it has to offer.

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Examples of the floating islands from the Working Wetlands Project (Photo: Grace Parker)

Examples of the floating islands from the Working Wetlands Project (Photo: Grace Parker)

The Fellows wrapped up their time in Melbourne by paying a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens – 38 hectares of mixed plant collections below the Yarra River.

The sun was no match for the swift and shaded buggy tour, courtesy of Chris Cole, Director of Melbourne Gardens. The time with Chris was well-spent, and the Fellows were fascinated by the Working Wetlands Project – a plant-based water filtration island built out of recycled plastics, as well as the Arid Garden – one of many projects designed by on-site landscape architect, Andrew Laidlaw.

The stunning colors of the Arid Garden from above. (Photo: Grace Parker)

The stunning colors of the Arid Garden from above. (Photo: Grace Parker)

Professor Mark McDonnell, Director of the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE) then provided the Fellows with an overview of urban ecology – the field, the research, and ARCUE’s work within Australia as well as on an international level.

In the afternoon, the Fellows met with Kylie Regester, Manager of Public Programs. The highlight of the discussion was her tour of the Ian Potter Children’s Garden; visitors small and large were encouraged to explore and discover nature through play. Finally, the Fellows were treated to an in-depth dialogue with Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

The Ian Potter Children's Garden relies on natural paths, forms, and structures instead of man-made playgrounds (Photo: Grace Parker)

The Ian Potter Children’s Garden relies on natural paths, forms, and structures instead of man-made playgrounds (Photo: Grace Parker)

The Fellows are grateful to the staff and administration of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne for such a welcoming visit, and hope to return one day to take advantage of their outdoor movie night, which occurs daily during the summer months!

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

Red Sand Garden

The Australian Garden greets visitors with red sands and circular plantings, a nod to the drier regions of the country.

Almost 2 KM* off the main road, past the “Stop for bandicoots” sign and on the site of a former sand mine is the award winning, world class Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. RBG Cranbourne is located about 45 minutes outside of the city of Melbourne. This spectacular garden has 15 hectares of cultivated garden and 350 hectares of bushland.

*(Fellows are now following the metric system)

RBG Cranbourne is a fairly new garden, open to the public in 1970. The stunning Australian Garden represents the native flora and fauna of all 86 of the continent’s bio-zones. Fellows were shown around the Australian Garden by Jo Fyfe, Visitor Programs Coordinator.

Jo Fyfe, Visitor Programs Coordinator

Jo Fyfe, Visitor Programs Coordinator, enhances guest experience through story-telling which she hopes will spark a love of horticulture for all who visit.

The garden design reflects the dry nature of much of the continent and tells the story of how water moves through the environment. Many gardens center on a lake, an open, peaceful area against which the different colors and textures of the garden stand out. A focal point of RBG Cranbourne is the Red Sand Garden, a representation of the dry and largely uninhabited center of Australia. The sand garden is surrounded by over two dozen differently themed gardens, such as the Weird and Wonderful Garden, the Seaside Garden, and the Greening Cities Garden.

Plantings and ephemeral wetlands sculptures in the Red Sand Garden

Plantings and ephemeral wetlands sculptures in the Red Sand Garden

The Home Garden shows visitors how they can use native Australian plants in any kind of garden

The Home Garden shows visitors how to use native Australian plants in any kind of landscape

A section of this beautiful stream is open to the public as a wading pool

A section of the beautiful River Walk is open to the public as a wading pool

DSCN6152There are layers upon layers of interpretive meanings built into the garden design. Signage, guided tours, and the website illuminate parts of the story, but guests can visit countless times and learn something new with each visit.

Fellows then enjoyed a tour of the bushland and picnic areas surrounding it by Ollie and Dave from Cranbourne’s Natural Lands Management team.

A walk in the bush

A walk in the bush

Ollie and Dave show us sand pads used for invasive animal control and tracking

Ollie and Dave show us sand pads used for invasive animal control and tracking

The Fellows met with Jo Fyfe and Sharon Willoughby, Manager of Public Programs, in the afternoon to discuss the goals and challenges Cranbourne is facing as it grows and matures as an organization. A warm thank you to Jo, Ollie, Sharon and Dave for sharing their time and expertise on an equally warm day!

A Mid-Trip Reflection

The First-Year Fellows have been having amazing experiences in Australia. At each organization we visit, we learn more strategies for community engagement and for program evaluation. We are excited about the relationships we are developing with Australian organizations.

The Fellows and Dr. Brian Trader pose for a picture at The Blue Mountain Botanic Gardens, Mount Tomah.

The Fellows and Dr. Brian Trader pose for a picture at The Blue Mountain Botanic Gardens, Mount Tomah.

In addition to our meetings, the Fellows have  been fortunate to tour each of the gardens and have been blown away by our visits. We have seen gorgeous views, creative garden designs, and fascinating biodiversity.

Australian gardens certainly have some different pest management issues.

Australian gardens certainly have some different pest management issues.

We have been impressed by the openness and generosity of all the host organizations! We are grateful for all the time and insights we have gotten so far and look forward to learning more.

Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

The First Year Fellows have had another adventure-packed day down under. The group started the morning with a quick hike to Wentworth Falls to experience the native Australian flora in its natural habitat.

The scenic Wentworth Falls of the Australian Blue Mountains

Mist hangs over the scenic Wentworth Falls in the Australian Blue Mountains.

After taking in the stunning views of the falls, the Fellows continued on to the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, Australia’s largest botanic garden. Mount Annan not only  features beautiful landscapes and walking trails, but it is also home to the world-renowned Australian PlantBank.

The Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan showcases hundreds of native plants and is also the site for the Australian PlantBank.

The Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan showcases hundreds of native plants and is also the site for the Australian PlantBank.

The Australian PlantBank is a state-of-the-art facility that holds over 10,000 collections of plant species for conservation and research. The institution uses the latest technology available to preserve as many seeds and as much plant tissue as possible.

Equipment like this thermogradient plate can help scientists at the PlankBank not only determine the best conditions for seed germination, but also predict the effects of climate change on the seeds of specific plant species.

Equipment like this thermogradient plate can help scientists at the PlankBank not only determine the best conditions for seed germination, but also predict the effects of climate change on the seeds of specific plant species.

While the PlantBank stores a wealth of genetic diversity, it also serves as an incredible education center for the public. Visitors to the garden can tour the facility to observe scientists processing thousands of seeds for the PlantBank and interact with the many displays within the building. Classes and private tours are also available to help people connect with and understand the importance of plants and seed conservation.

Glass walls in the PlantBank enable visitors to watch scientists as they prepare seeds and other plant tissues for preservation.

Glass walls in the PlantBank enable visitors to watch scientists as they prepare seeds and other plant tissues for preservation.

Fellow Tracy Qiu observes one of the many interactive displays inside the Australian PlantBank.

With the PlantBank, traditional gardens, and numerous recreation areas, the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is well-poised to successfully engage both local and far-away communities for many years to come.

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah

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The Fellows with the backdrop of the stunning Blue Mountains

Nestled among the Blue Mountains UNESCO World Heritage site, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah masterfully weaves plant textures of the Southern Hemisphere together, capturing the imaginations and hearts of thousands visiting each year. Originally the home of the Brunet family, who produced cut flowers sold in Sydney, the gardens were donated in 1972. Though first opened to the public in 1987, the presence of the basalt capped mountains encouraged plant life to flourish, growing rapidly and offering the appearance of a far more mature and established garden.

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Arranged by geographic origin, dense plantings complement and contrast one another through various texture, scale, and color

The Fellows were fortunate to meet with the garden’s Curator Manager, Greg Bourke, to learn about the garden proper as well as its premiere interpretative display, the Botanists Way Discovery Centre. Completed in recent years, the Discovery Centre provides active and passive educational experiences to an international audience of all ages and walks of life. Synchronized with the garden’s mission statement to connect people with plants through imaginative horticulture, beautiful landscapes, and transformative learning experiences, the shared stories focus on a historic mission to find rare plants in the local uncharted territory. The garden projects a future vision for the continued advancement of this interpretive tool, which may include interactive displays to encourage local community visitors to return again and again.

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The bog garden’s kaleidoscope of color draws the attention of visitors and is home to a few carnivorous plants

Booderee Botanic Gardens

The Longwood Fellows were up bright and early this morning for their day at Booderee Botanic Gardens and National Park.

The Fellows’ goal for this International Experience is to explore how Australian public gardens are evaluating the impact of educational and outreach programs, and Booderee Botanic Gardens is a unique example.

Originally an annex of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, the land containing Booderee Botanical Gardens and National Park was successfully acquired by Wreck Bay Aboriginal community in 1995, and is the only Aboriginal owned botanical garden in Australia (and possibly the world).

The Fellows began the day with Stig Pedersen, Booderee’s Acting Botanic Gardens Curator, who provided valuable context in the form of the history and structure of the botanical gardens. Booderee Botanic Gardens carries out its mission of cultural education through Indigenous led interpretive tours, as well as educational programs and training for the local Wreck Bay community.


The Fellows were able to experience one of these tours, led by Indigenous interpreter Kain Ardler, who has an extensive knowledge of Aboriginal plants that has been handed down through the generations. A favorite of the day was learning about the uses of the Paperbark Tree, which can be wrapped around fish before cooking.

The Fellows would like to thank Stig Pedersen, Kain Ardler, and the rest of the staff at the Booderee Botanic Gardens and National Park, for a warm welcome to the land.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

Another busy day down under! Today the First Year Fellows visited the spectacular Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, followed by a tour of the Sydney Opera House.

At one of Royal Botanic Garden Sydney's 15 entrances!

At one of Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s 15 entrances

RBG Sydney is the largest public garden in the southern hemisphere, with over 4 million visitors annually, and with good reason. These gorgeous grounds are located in the middle of the city center, right on Sydney Harbor.

The Fellows spent the morning meeting with representatives from RBG Sydney, as well as staff from Australian Botanic Garden Mt Annan. It was a great opportunity to hear more about the overall vision of the organizations and get more information about their strategic planning efforts, governance structures and programming. After a delicious lunch at RBG’s café, we strolled around the grounds for a more in depth look at the garden with Paul Nicholson, RBG Site Coordinator of Community Education. Paul has a vast knowledge of plants and the Garden that he generously shared with us.

Paul talks palms

Paul talks palms

Fellows especially enjoyed the tour of Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters, a display that interprets the Aboriginal cultural heritage of RBG Sydney. The garden is celebrating it’s 200 anniversary, but Aboriginal people have a 40,000 year history with the site, including roughly 28,000 years of managing the land through techniques including burning.

Garden Interpreter Etta with Aboriginal cultural artifacts

Garden Interpreter Etta with Aboriginal cultural artifacts

The Fellows would like to thank Kim Ellis, Executive Director of Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, Jimmy Turner, Director of Horticultural Management at RGB Sydney, Paul Nicholson of RBG Sydney, John Siemon, Curator Manager of Australian Botanic Garden Mt. Annan, and Rebecca Anderson, Visitor Experience Manager at ABG for their time and a great discussion.

G’day Mates!

First Year Fellows here, checking in from Sydney, Australia.

We made it! No speed bumps so far (except for one lost piece of luggage). We hit the ground running today with an amazing afternoon at Taronga Zoo. The ferry across Sydney Harbour provides a picturesque approach to the zoo site. We were able to see gorgeous views of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the zoo itself.

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On our way to Taronga Zoo with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.

The Fellows spent the afternoon in conversation with Taronga’s Institute and Project Manager, Education Manager, Aboriginal and Community Programs Manager, and the Community Conservation Manager. Thank you to the generous Taronga Zoo staff for their time and wisdom; we are excited to continue these conversations! After our meeting we spent some time bonding with the Australian wildlife. Some of my personal favorites were the echidnas and the quolls. Unfortunately, the platypus didn’t make an appearance for us today; he was relaxing in his nest-box after a long day of happy visitors.

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When you’re at Taronga, don’t forget to look up! This ropes course provides a fun activity for a wide range of ages.

Our time at Taronga Zoo really set the stage for a fantastic trip. Stay tuned! We’ll keep you up to date throughout our journey.

Follow along with us on social media using twitter (@ElizabethTau) and our trip hashtag: #LGPDownUnder