The cover of this month's Newsletter is the First Prize winning entry by
Jess Spaleta,   St Clare's College
in the College Colour section of the Schools Photographic Competition
"Our Nations Garden"

This is a sample of our Newsletter's diverse and interesting content.
Join the Friends to receive your own full copy of each issue.

March, 2008
Helen Hewson    and    Catherine Blakers
President's Report 2008
Gardens Shorts
Our Nation's Garden

The Bernard Fennessy "What's in a Name" Award, 2007

Friends Briefs

Vale  Helen

Helen Joan Hewson

Botanist, Author, Artist and Friend
Born : 24 June, 1938
Died : 29 October, 2007

Helen will be chiefly remembered for her work of 20 years with the Australian Biological Resources Study on the multi-volume series, Flora of Australia.


Vale  Catherine

Catherine Blakers

Born : 15 June, 1923
Died : 18 January, 2008

Catherine joined the Volunteer Guides in 1995. She was a true devotee of the Gardens in many aspects, always stimulating others to appreciate our Australian flora.


Gardens Shorts

   From the Director

           New Watering Technology

                   Good News Story

                           Australian Biological Resources Study

                           Did you know ?

From the Director,   Anne Duncan

Australia Day has just passed us, the beginning of another year. I have been reflecting on our new Prime Minister's Australia Day speech - and find that it serves as useful inspiration for the ANBG. He spoke about reflecting on our past achievements, and on embracing the future.

The ANBG was the first botanic garden focussed on native Australian species and the garden that was created is indeed one to reflect on and be proud of. And we should be optimistic about what the ANBG can achieve in the future; the possibilities are unlimited.

One of the great challenges facing the nation is, of course, climate change. Australia's botanic gardens can play a key role in national efforts to address climate change and to assist the notion in adapting to it - it is the most important challenge that the ANBG can take on and it is a challenge which will ensure we are relevant to the nation. People ask, what has climate change got to do with the ANBG, what can we do, as if it is beyond us!

Taking on climate change as a focus does not mean dropping everything we do and doing something different. It means that it becomes our new focus. It means that :

  • climate change, its impacts on biodiversity and possible responses, should be the focus of our education programs;

  • that the priority species for collection, propagation and ex-situ conservation should be species which might be threatened by climate change;

  • that the focus of our botanical and horticultural research should be issues relevant to climate change;

  • that all the information about plants which is hidden away in botanic gardens should be made accessible, urgently, to scientists and the community so that it can contribute to the research of others;

  • and that, as the only nationally focussed garden, we should be taking a leadership role and working with other Australian gardens to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our collective efforts.

So as we start 2008 it is appropriate that we search for a new vision for a modern ANBG, one which will ensure we are engaged in the challenges of the nation, one which will inspire and enrich the nation well beyond our site in Canberra.

The review of the Management Plan will begin in earnest shortly and there will be many interesting discussions about a new vision. I encourage you to consider the national role of the ANBG and get engaged in the opportunities provided by the planning process. In the words of the PM "If we are to build a modern Australia to face the challenges of the future we need to harness our best brains, our best ideas, all for the national good". And that applies to the ANBG too !

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New Watering Technology,   Paul Janssens, Curator, Living Collections

With its new Water Management Strategy the ANBG is introducing latest technology practices and moving towards being more environmentally responsible and water efficient. The strategy, which should be completed in February 2008, has two major components - a centralised computer-operated irrigation system and soil moisture sensors.

The irrigation system was installed in 2006 and has been operating for 18 months. It allows staff to program irrigation from one location and access water usage reports. There is a full report in the Friends Newsletter
No. 55, March, 2007.

During this year we will be installing 12 soil moisture sensors, of two types. The first is a 300 mm probe with sensors at each 50 mm depth (six sensors per probe). These will relay data back to a computer located in the bottom depot using UHF frequency. This means that data can be viewed in graph form live (immediately). This tool will allow our horticulturists to fine tune irrigation programming because they can see more precisely what is happening with soil moisture across the Gardens. The second type of sensor will be connected to the irrigation system and will only allow programs to operate when soil moisture reaches a 'dry' threshold. If soils haven't dried out, then irrigation won't occur.

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Good News Story,   Phil Hurle, Manager, Bottom Depot

The apparently dead Wollemi pine lives again !

                                                           Photo by Barry Brown

A root pathogen was the chief suspect, but when the pine was exhumed, it was clearly not the case. Gardens staff potted it up to see what would happen and sent some soil and root material to Sydney for testing of known pathogens, Armillaria and Phytopthera.

These came back negative. Since then, the pine has shot from the base and there are signs of leaf buds about to burst along the stem. The current theory is that it was too exposed to the extreme sun and heat in October and dropped its leaves in protest. Apparently it wasn't happy in that spot as it had put on virtually no growth in the last few years, but it is doing OK now in a pot hidden in deep shade. There is now a replacement pine a bit further down the path towards the rainforest gully, where the aspect will be more favourable (more shade and no westerly exposure to the harsh afternoon sun).



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Australian Biological Resources Study,   Helen Thompson, ABRS

Strolling through the Gardens, most visitors are probably unaware of the important scientific work taking place in the Ellis Rowan and Franklin Buildings. These modest brick buildings house the 13 staff of the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS). It is the centre that coordinates Australian research in taxonomy, the science that identifies, describes, classifies and records the distribution of our flora and fauna.

Australia's rich and diverse biodiversity poses special challenges for taxonomists and produces a seemingly unlimited forward work program. Of the estimated 250,000 invertebrate species of Australian fauna, less than half have been formally described, tat is 'taxonomically'. Fungal species have been even less under the microscope with less than 10 percent thought to have been identified.

Happily the work on higher plants and vertebrate animals is further advanced but much remains to be done. Nearly half of the 60 volume Flora of Australia has been published with the most recent being Flora of Australia Volume 2, Winteraceae to Platanaceae \, which describes some of the most ancient flowering plants known. The three volume set of the Zoological Catalogue of Australia on the fishes was also publised last year and documents around 4,500 fish species.

In the past year ABRS has published four volumes in its new book series Algae of Australia. Over 12,000 known Australian algal species are found in marine and freshwater habitats, in soils, in water films, and even deeply buried in solid rocks. The3 identification and description of Australian algae will enable ABRS to provide authoritative identification guides to some of our most significant and sensitive organisms.

A significant challenge for ABRS is to ensure that its work is readily accessible. As well as its specialist publications, ABRS maintains on-line searchable databases and helps to produce interactive identification guides. Wasps can now be identified with the help of a new CD ROM What wasp is that? An interactive guide to the Australasian families of Hymenoptera. Flies can be identified with a similar key, On the Fly. And the definitive guide to all 57 recognised general of Australian Ladybird beetles comes in the form of a splendidly illustrated review.

Further information on ABRS is at

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Did you know ?   

Staff of the ANBG are involved in recovery projects for a range of threatened species, with a range of collaborating institutions throughout Australia.

    Cassinia tegulata

Tony Orchard has been working in South Australia, collaborating with SA Department of Environment and Heritage

   Corybas dowlingii
   Cryptostylis hunteriana
   Rhizanthelia slateri

Mark Clements has been developing and implementing translocation techniques for these orchids with NSW Road and Traffic Authority in Bulahdela, NSW

   Eucalyptus imlayensis

David Taylor and Paul Carmen, on behalf of NSW NP&WS, working at Mt Imlay on the south coast, are attempting to discover whether this eucalypt is susceptible to Phytopthera

   Hakea pulvinifera
   Lomatia tasmanica
   Swainsona recta
   Zieria baureienii

Joe Macauliffe is growing ex situ clones, as per recovery plans for each species, in consultation with Royal Botanic Gardens Tasmania on L. tasmanica, and with Booderee Botanic Gardens and NSW NP&WS on Z. baurienii.

   Muehlenbeckia tuggeranong

Dave Mallinson and Joe Macauliffe, with Sarah Sharp from what was Environment ACT, are determining if an increase in plants results in seed production, and secondly, increasing the number of plants in situ. Joe is also growing clones ex situ.

   Rhacocarpus rehmannianus         var. webbianus

Chris Cargill is working with WA Department of Environment and Conservation to ascertain whether this moss can be artificially cultured so it can be repatriated back into the wild.

   Treubia tasmanica

Chris Cargill has four or five live plants in a growth cabinet, but is also attempting to grow plants from spores in culture. These liverworts grow on boulders along the West Tyers River near Mt Baw Baw.




The Bernard Fennessy "What's in a Name" Award



Our Nation's Garden

Annual Photographic Competition for ACT and Queanbeyan Region
High School and College Students

Shirley McKeown,

This competition not only encourages school students to use their photographic abilities, but also to see, learn and understand the beautiful and intriguing aspects of the ANBG. The competition is also a very valuable asset for the ANBG itself, as it 'spreads the word' about the nature and beauty of the Gardens.

The competition is open to all high school and college students in the ACT and Queanbeyan, and currently there are six categories. Both film and digital cameras can be used, with one of the categories (Digital/Photo Effects) specifically catering for darkroom or digital manipulation of a photo - with some very interesting results !

From its beginning in 1997 the competition has always been very popular, and this year reached a point where we had to limit the number of entries per student.

The 152 entries received this year were on display in the Foyer and Dickson Room from the prize-presentation day in mid-October until the beginning of December. Prize winning entries continue to be displayed in the Foyer.

An advantage this year was a two-day gap between exhibitions in the Visitor Centre Gallery, when the ANBG staff suggested we put the competition photos on display there - and they helped carry the panels ! It was a terrific asset for the competition, with strong public interest and appreciation of the content and quality of the photographs.

The photographs on this page are a small selection from the 11 years of the competition. To see the full range of the prizewinning and commended photographs, click on the following buttons :

Tanya Dunstan, Dickson College
"Flash Back"
1st Prize Open People in the Gardens, 2002


Michael Jackson-Rand, Alfred Deakin High School
"Flaming Heart"

Equal 1st Prize High School Colour, 2006

Kylie Gstrein, Calwell High School
1st Prize High School Colour, 2005


Angus Hawke, Canberra College
1st Prize College Digital, 2001

Jessica Dakin, Lyneham High School
1st Prize High School Black and White, 2005

Sincere thanks to the initiator of the competition, Beverley Fisher, and to the school students and their teachers, to our judges Barry Brown and Denise Ferris, and to all the ANBG staff and Friends who have supported this competition.

Friends Briefs

Grazing in the Gardens

 Photo by Alan Munns

Grazing in the Gardens 2007 was indeed an event
to remember.  
What started as a sunny
November afternoon developed, by half-way through the main course, into an early summer storm.

Diners ate one-handed and juggled umbrellas as they refused to abandon the delicious buffet meal.

Then it was indoors for dessert to the accompaniment of the magic sound of rain on the roof !


Concert Season 2008

 Photo by Martin Butterfield

The much reduced 2008 concert season was well attended and much enjoyed, even by the resident ducks, though they were not impressed that their lawn had been invaded by a foreign species.

However, they had it all to themselves on Saturday 19 when the concert was washed out. That concert was rescheduled to
3 February.

Guides Intake 2008

Would you like to become a volunteer guide at the ANBG? In mid-June we will be advertising in the local media for expressions of interest from those wishing to undertake the training course.

After an information session, interviews with applicants will follow in mid-July. The training
course itself will begin on Wednesday 30 July, continuing on Wednesdays and Thursdays (9.30 am to 3.30 pm approx.) until 28 August, that is, for
five weeks.

The main requirements for becoming a guide are :
  • an interest in Australian native plants

  • a commitment to the ANBG

  • an ability to communicate your enthusiasm to visitors.

If you would like to be contacted when further information is available, please register your interest with the Visitor Centre,
               phone :
(02) 6250 9540



Botanical Resource Centre

The Botanical Resource Centre is moving towards completion and functioning as the new home for the Public Reference Herbarium. With the support of students participating in the Botanical Interns program, the 200+ volumes of the Herbarium have been moved from the library into the newly fitted out Centre in a room adjoining the Friends lounge, in the Ellis Rowan Building. Students have also assisted with the updating and correcting of specimen names in the Herbarium.

Eager facilitators commenced training on 4 February with a discussion on the role of the Centre and a tour of the Australian National Herbarium. Training sessions for facilitators continued throughout February.

With the arrival of computers, donated by Volante, and supplied with stools and a microscope, the Botanical Resource Centre will be ready for use by the public in early April.

Volunteer Morning Tea

The Gardens held a special celebration to thank its many volunteers as part of International Volunteers Day.

The gathering honoured volunteers who have contributed 10, 15 and even 20 years of service . Thirty-five of the Gardens' volunteers have been sharing their passion and skills for ten years or more - a remarkable accomplishment

                                                                         Photo by Barry Brown

Still a passion for plants : Barbara Daly receives an award for 20 years of volunteering and her work on In Flower this Week from ABC radio broadcaster, Genevieve Jacobs.

Last month 24,500 pages were downloaded from the current and archived files of "In flower this week" from the Gardens' website.

Guides' Gigs

Last year over 3,000 visitors participated in walks led by the Friends' Volunteer Guides. As well as the ever popular daily walks, around 300 visitors were led by Guides in booked tour groups.


   Botanical Art Exhibition

The Botanic Art Groups of the Friends held their first exhibition of paintings and drawings   at   the  Visitor Centre Gallery,
4 -16 March.

Some works were for sale, with donations from sales going to the Friends.


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