News from your Gardens | Autumn 2015

  • Follow the sound of music

    Why is Roland Peelman, the artistic director of the Canberra International Music Festival perched contemplatively in a eucalypt?

    • Has he found himself a new ecological niche? Or is he imagining how voices and instruments will sound in the diverse habitats of the Gardens? The Gardens is traditionally known for locals and visitors to come and wander, relax and learn but in May 2015 the Gardens will add another element as we host a sensory treasure hunt of new music as part of the 2015 Canberra International Music Festival.

      Each midday between 4 - 8 May, the Canberra International Music Festival will perform in different locations across Canberra, with the Gardens hosting 'Forest Music' on Thursday 7 May.

      Members of YAFF (the Young Artist Festival Fellows), The Song Company and Ensemble Offspring will be scattered around the Gardens' various ecosystems. Visitors can expect to be surprised and delighted as they come upon music from composers such as Kate Moore, Nigel Butterley, Philip Glass, Martin Wesley-Smith and Damien Ricketson, among others.

      In keeping with the Festival's theme of science and music, Executive Director Dr Judy West will speak about the Gardens' collections, ecological research and conservation programs, in particular the Australian Seed Bank Partnership.

      For further information about the 2015 Canberra International Music Festival, visit

    Read more on the Music Festival

  • Sabbia Gallery Sydney brings Ernabella to the Gardens

    This July, the Gardens will be hosting a special touring exhibition by Sabbia Gallery Sydney in conjunction with the 14th Australian Ceramics Triennale - Stepping Up.

    • Following on from the enormous success of the 2014 Ernabella exhibition in Sydney, Sabbia Gallery is thrilled to be bringing the 'Yangupala Tjuta Waakarinyi: Many Young People Working' exhibition to the Gardens, showcasing some of Ernabella's award winning and emerging ceramic artists.

      Established in 1948, Ernabella Arts is Australia's oldest Indigenous art centre. The centre is located in Pukatja Community at the eastern end of the Musgrave Ranges in far north-west South Australia.

      On display in the exhibition are new works from the ceramics studio that have been created on Country in Ernabella Australia. The exhibition will also include ceramics created during their residency in Jingdezhen, China in early 2015.

      The exhibition will be held at the Gardens from 4 to 12 July 2015 in conjunction with the 14th Australian Ceramics Triennale in Canberra.

      A special artist demonstration and exhibition floor talk will be held at the Gardens on Wednesday 8 July from 1.00 - 3.00 pm. For further information or to reserve your place, contact Sarah Grimaldi from Sabbia Gallery at or (02) 9361 6448.

      This demonstration and floor talk offers a rare opportunity to listen to and observe three of Ernabella's award winning artists, Alison Milyika Carroll, Anne Thompson and Tjimpuna Williams discussing their Country and the Ernabella ceramics studio and presenting their unique and beautiful carving on ceramics

      About Sabbia Gallery

      Sabbia Gallery was established by co-directors Anna Grigson (former director at Quadrivium from 1997 to 2003) and Maria Grimaldi in early 2005 and has become Sydney's premier commercial gallery specialising in the exhibition and representation of Australia and New Zealand's foremost contemporary studio glass and ceramic artists.

      The gallery has developed an important and diverse foundation of internationally renowned and award winning artists, who are creating dynamic and innovative sculptural, installation based and wall artworks. They display the variety, quality and growth of the Australian and New Zealand studio glass and ceramic movements and together are a compelling exhibiting presence.

    Read more on the exhibition

  • Day spa opens its doors at the Gardens

    Visitors to the Gardens can now unwind with a relaxing massage or pampering session at the new Jindii Eco Spa.

    • "I am delighted to welcome multi-award winning Canberra business Jindii EcoSpa to the Gardens," said Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment.

      "The Gardens offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in nature and take some time out from the stresses of modern life and Jindii offers a natural extension of that.

      "Jindii's extensive spa menu uses organic products with native ingredients so it's a great fit for the natural setting of the Gardens.

      "This adds to the suite of services people can enjoy in the Gardens, from traditional favourites such as the bookshop and cafe, through to recent initiatives including Sunset Cinema, Commbank Flix in the Stix, a range of themed afterDARK tours and Flora Explorer electric bus tours.

      "The eco spa adds to the Botanic Gardens' appeal as a wedding and events venue, and the rental return on these elegant premises will be reinvested in this great national attraction."

      To get to the spa, visitors walk along the Joseph Banks Walk, across the Rainforest Gully bridge and past the cafe lawn where they will see a large variety of Australia native plants. The spa is open Monday to Saturday between 9.00 am - 6.00 pm and on Sundays from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm. Appointments can be made by calling the spa on (02) 6257 8777.

      Jindii EcoSpa proprietor Bianca Prichard said visitors can see new landscaping at the Jindii entrance including examples of some native plants used in the spa's products.

      "This is a further way to tie the spa visitor experience back to the plants growing in the Gardens," Ms Prichard said.

      Find out more.

    Read more on Jindi Eco Spa

  • Teaming up to collect rainforest plants

    Since the inception of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, our collection has been based on wild field collections. This summer, Gardens' staff joined with Wollongong Botanic Gardens and the Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan under the auspices of the South East Bioregion Botanic Garden Group to visit a floristically unique area near Jamberoo, known as the 'Whispering Gallery'.

    • The location supports a rich stand of lowland subtropical/warm temperate forest, with pockets of rare rainforest types and threatened and rare species.

      "We made eleven collections including the rare EPBC listed Illawarra Socketwood, Dapnandra johnsonii, increasing the genetic diversity of our current holdings," said Toby Golson, Gardens' rainforest horticulturalist.

      "Although we have a number of existing wild collections of Daphnandra johnsonii, this is the first collection from the Saddleback population and means that the genetic representativeness of our ex-situ conservation collection of the species is enriched. This collection and the others are all being grown on for planting out into the garden."

      "We also visited and collected propagation material to create ex situ collections of a regionally rare Ricinocarpus sp population."

      Such collections from the field are vital for research and to conserve species under threat in their native habitat, as appropriate reintroduction programs are developed.

      "We also made our first wild collections of Gossia acmenioides and Cironella moorei for the Gardens. Although we have these species growing in the Gardens already, they are from cultivated origin only so have limited scientific or conservation value."

      Much of the material collected will be propagated and planted out in the Gardens' Rainforest Gully and bordering areas adding to the around 1000 species growing there. The Rainforest Gully gives visitors a chance to experience the fascination of Australia's rainforest diversity.

      The Gardens' living collection is based on a scientific collection of plants sourced from the wild, together with seeds collected for long-term storage in the seed bank. Pressed herbarium specimens and photographs formalise the process of collecting.

    Read more on collecting rainforest plants

  • Autumn flowers in the Gardens

    Although the days are shorter and the weather a bit cooler, autumn in the Gardens can be as brilliant as spring or summer with fantastic flower and foliage colour. Enjoy the colours and textures as you discover the beauty and diversity of Australia's plants.

    Here we feature some flowers you can see this autumn in the Gardens that may also inspire you to add colour to your Garden at home.

    These plants are available in select nurseries and from Australian Native Plants Society Canberra Region sales at the Gardens in spring and autumn.

    Read more on the Plants of the season

  • Day in the life of a Seedy Volunteer

    The National Seed Bank at the Australian National Botanic Gardens has been able to call on 17 dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers, known as the 'Seedy Volunteers', to help with its seed collecting activities.

    • The Seedy Volunteers assist Seed Bank staff in collecting seed and plant material from across grassland and alpine vegetation communities in the ACT and southern NSW. Trips are either one day, or multi-days depending on logistics and the amount of material being targeted, which is usually between 5,000 to 10,000 seeds per collection.

      The role of a Seedy Volunteer on collecting trips is to assist the team leader with all aspects of collection, record keeping and photographing the day including the plants collected, general landscape and vegetation and the people involved.

      Prospective Seedy Volunteers go through an interview process with skills in field botany, map reading, navigation and photography being highly regarded. Seedy Volunteers tend to come from diverse backgrounds, but all bring to the role an interest in Australian native plants and a willingness to contribute to their conservation.

      In the Alps, many hours are spent on hands and knees collecting low growing herbs and grasses. Seeds can be tiny and it helps to have knowledge of the biology and taxonomy of the species being collected. Being able to correctly identify fruit and seed can save time when it comes to processing collections.

      Plant and herbarium specimens are processed and sorted at the end of the day. Some of the materials collected will be useful as clonal material for the Gardens Living Collection display and others will be pressed and dried for herbarium reference specimens.

    Read more on the life of a Seedy Volunteer

  • Meet Sarah Mathews, CSIRO Research Scientist

    Seeking to understand the origins and diversification of plant lineages and comparing some lineages with others, is just part of a day's work for Research Scientist Sarah Mathews.

    • Joining the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research team in July 2014, Sarah has been busy linking patterns of plant evolution with patterns of past geological and climatic change, which she believes helps to understand how today's plant communities arose.

      "Studying how biological traits, such as drought tolerance, evolve within plant lineages and communities helps us to identify key factors that underpin success and survival," Sarah said.

      "What's so great about the work I do is that I get to identify and tackle challenging questions, which, when I see the answers from emerging date, can be very satisfying.

      "I also like the hands-on aspects of my work, in the field or lab, and I greatly enjoy working with students and younger colleagues." Even with all the positives that come with the work of a researcher, there are some challenges that are met along the way.

      "One of the greatest challenges is keeping abreast of the rapidly changing technical and analytical approaches used by evolutionary biologists in these days of genomics. It is very exciting to see the progress, but I'm constantly running to keep up," said Sarah.

      Growing up in the United States, Sarah says that her love of natural history was instilled by her father when she was quite young. "Both Dad and his sister had botany degrees and he went on to become a professor of forestry and soil science."

      "My mother also loved to garden and gave me my first package of seeds to sow. Somehow, during the outings with my father and the gardening with my mother, the love of plant life became foremost, over insects, spiders, sea anemones, and seaweed.

      "On top of that, I am motivated by a strong curiosity to understand how things work. For example, why are some plants happy in the shade, while others are not?

    Read more on Sarah Mathews

  • A New Book for Canberra Region Gardeners from the local Australian Native Plants Society

    The fifth edition of 'Australian Plants for Canberra Region Gardens and other cool climate areas' was launched recently by Ian Warden, Gang-Gang Journalist, The Canberra Times.

    • This edition has been extensively revised and features coloured photos for all 934 described plants, with many more forms and cultivars listed. The Australian plants in this book were selected specifically for the Canberra region and other similar cool climate areas. More than one third of the plants in the book are indigenous to the Canberra region.

      The book is written for Canberra region gardeners by Canberra region gardeners and brings together over 50 years of gardening experience by past and present members of the Australian Native Plants Society Canberra Region.

      For each plant listed, information is provided on hardiness, flowering time, dimensions, light requirements, drainage, frost sensitivity, distribution in Australia and whether it occurs locally, and special uses (hedging and screening, bird attraction, drought hardiness). The plants are sorted alphabetically and grouped by growth form. Introductory chapters cover The Canberra Environment, Designing your Garden, Managing Your Garden as well as Finding Plants.

      Australian Plants for Canberra Region Gardens and other cool climate areas is available from the Botanical Book Shop at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

    Read more on the new book

  • News from the Gardens

    Would you like to be the first to know about the news from the Gardens? Subscribe to receive our seasonal e-news from the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

    Subscribe to our newsletter | Unsubscribe | Privacy Policy