ARTICLES FROM OUR NEWSLETTER
Sunday, 16 April, 2000
Anne Phillips, Volunteer Guide
A dozen or so of us met at the Visitor Centre, then walked to the new glasshouse via the rainforest. Twelve to eighteen months ago the rainforest started to get epiphytic trimmings in the form of orchids and ferns - orchids with wonderful names such as Orange Blossom Orchid, Dagger Orchid and Beech Orchid which will only grow on Nothofagus moorei, the Antarctic Beech. All need protection from the cold, wind and dryness, and here lies the parallel with a glasshouse, where the environment is controlled to simulate a rainforest - misting sprays to increase humidity, fans to circulate the air and heaters and thermostats to regulate temperatures - a minimum of 25" by day and 16" by night, and adjusted according to season.
The glasshouse displays cover various themes: rainforest plants; palms, ferns and epiphytes; adaptation of plants; environment and how it is manipulated; insect and pest control systems; orchid research; and plant conservation. The Australian National Botanic Gardens has the largest orchid collection in the Southern Hemisphere and it's part of the National Collection. Some of the orchids have been seized by Customs and one from Peru, with splendid pink flowers, is on display, (though not in flower on this day).
Upon entering the glasshouse, one is transported to the tropics and warm sub-tropics, and at the far end, to a drier. brighter and less humid monsoon climate. Beds with palms with large glossy, bright green leaves; discs, straps, fringes. Monolithic railway sleepers with weird dangling shapes: climbers, trailers, velvety patches and spikes. Pandanus, Blechnum, Melaleuca veridiflora, Dianella intermedia; bottle tree, Lilly-pilly, Pitcher plant, native banana and ginger. Wonderful!
Dr Ben Wallace explains
the glasshouse displays to Friends of the Gardens
in a preview of this exciting development
(Photo by Anne Phillips)
Margaret Lynch, Volunteer Guide
The Friends of ANBG will be hosting the National Conference of Volunteer Guides in Botanic Gardens from 29 October to 2 November 2001, made especially appropriate by it being the centenary of federation. The participants will include guides at Botanic Gardens from all over Australia representing the larger state gardens and smaller regional gardens such as Wollongong and Ballarat. The week will be spent workshopping guiding skills. aspects of botany and the management of a guiding service. as well as visiting a variety of Canberra's superb gardens.
The conference will of course be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the ANBG and you can be sure our guides will take great pride in promoting the many special features of the Gardens.
Organising a conference is a huge task, but a task made easier with the support of Gardens' management and staff, the Friends and many enthusiastic guides. A number of subgroups have been formed to handle accommodation and transport; program and venues; hospitality and registration; budget, sponsorship and catering; and public relations and publications.
We are fortunate to have the conference facilities of the Discovery Centre at CSIRO made available to us for the official opening and workshops. The program is taking shape. accommodation, transport, hospitality and catering researched and an initial letter of invitation sent to all botanic gardens.. There have been over 80 expressions of interest to date and it is expected there will be up to 200 participants.
2.00 pm Walks :
Following the cessation of the 9.30 am walks at the end of March, the Volunteer Guides have conducted 2.00 pm walks on a daily basis during April and May. These have been so well received that it has been decided to continue these walks, in addition to the regular program of 11.00 am walks, throughout the winter months. Tell all your friends; a crisp winter afternoon is an ideal time to visit the Gardens.
Bernard Fennessy, Volunteer Guide
Rhododendron lochiae in the family Ericaceae is one of two Australian representatives of a genus extremely wide-spread in the world and well known in horticulture where there are probably thousands of varieties.
In 1852, Ferdinand Mueller, attracted from Adelaide to Victoria by the gold rush, decided to open a chemist's shop there. Coinciding with this was the decision of Governor LaTrobe to appoint a Government Botanist in Victoria. Mueller was selected for the position and became intensively involved in exploration and botanising. He became aware of the absence of Rhododendron species in plant collections in Australia despite the large numbers of species in areas just to the north of Australia. This was puzzling in view of the affinities between the flora of these areas and of Australia. Mueller predicted that a native Rhododendron would be discovered in mountain areas in tropical Australia.
In 1887, in Victorian Naturalist he described, in somewhat florid language, how this Rhododendron was ultimately discovered in the area he had predicted:
"When in 1855 the writer of these notes saw (on his passage with Mr Gregory to what is now called the Kimberley-Country) from near the coast also the bold outlines of Mount Bellenden-Ker, the highest mount of tropical Australia. towering 5000 feet, he was led to think, that the upper regions might be the home of Rhododendron, Vaccinium, Quercus, Begonia and Impatiens, forms of plants characteristic of cool Malaysian sylvan regions. yet these anticipations became not realized. But Messrs Sayer and Davidson, while accomplishing quite recently the only ascent hitherto made of Mount Bellenden-Ker, have now demonstrated by their botanical collections, that really a Rhododendron and a plant akin to Vaccinium do exist on the summit of that mountain as an entirely new feature in the flora of this part of the globe."
"The dedication of the only Australian Rhododendron to Lady Loch, is in special recognition of the patronage, given by her Ladyship to Victorian Horticulture, and in particular to that very group of plants, the occurrence of which in Australian vegetation is now only rendered known, more that 80 years after the discovery of Mt Bellenden-Ker."
This Rhododendron found not far from Cairns was named by Mueller R. lochae after Lady Loch who was the wife of Sir Henry Brougham Loch, who was Governor of Victoria 1884-89. Its official name is now R.lochiae.
The word Rhododendron is from the Greek rhodon, rose. and dendron, tree, in reference to the terminal bunches. in this genus, of often red-coloured flowers, literally "rose-tree".
R. lochiae is an evergreen shrub growing to a height of 0.8m with a spread of lm. The leaves are dark green and thick. There are only about 6 flowers in each head, and each flower hangs like a bell. The trumpet-like flower has a brilliant red waxy appearance and is about 5 cm across the mouth and 7 cm long.
The detail of R. lochiae is shown in a beautiful illustration on the front cover of the book Australia: 300 Years of Botanical Illustration, by Helen Hewson, CSIRO Publishing, 1999. The illustration is from an original watercolour painting, by Australian artist Margaret Stones in 1973, from the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne.
In the Australian National Botanic Gardens at Canberra, about 40 Rhododendrons were planted a few years ago. A minority of these are R. lochiae. The others are New Guinea species or hybrids between them and R. lochiae. Canberra's climate is generally too cold for them but the plantings have been in well-sheltered sites, eg in the Queensland section of the Rainforest Gully. Some of these have flowered in spring and summer, providing a promise of a spectacle in future years .
The other Australian species of Rhododendron, R. notiale, was recognised in 1996. It occurs in the Bellenden-Ker Range near, but south of, R. lochiae which it resembles. Hence the specific epithet notiale from Latin, notialis, southern.
No, these are not
parasols! In their infinite wisdom, the Friends chose noon on 21 March,
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April the Growing Friends of the Gardens held a very successful plant sale of
Updated 14 February, 2002 by Shirley McKeown firstname.lastname@example.org