Our Royal Botanic Gardens

by Helen Curran

We do seem to overlook the Royal Botanic Garden when we think of tropical plants growing in Sydney.  We joined the TGSS trying to find out what does grow here and where to get these elusive plants.  We also check out the gardens that are open with Open Gardens Australia to see what they are growing.  But we don't stop and wonder what tropical plants could be growing in the RBG or  what plants the Friends of the Gardens could be growing for sale.  The Friends propagate from the tropical plants growing in the Garden and these do include hard to find plants as well as unusual and rare plants.

While I was researching my latest article for subTropical Gardening Magazine, I spent quite a bit of time researching what tropical plants are growing in the RBG and also the plants available to buy on the Growing Friends Plant List.  I was intrigued by what I learnt during my research and this, of course, led to a yearning to explore the RBG and to visit the Plant Sale.  So on January 27th, Robert and I went to find the tropical plants there and it was good to see well established large plants that had obviously been growing there for many years and finding new tropical plants that I had never seen before or only seen on the Internet.  The perfect end to our trip was the Friends Plant Sale where I was able to buy some these new tropical plants to add to my garden.  There are still many more tropical plants we have yet to find  in the Garden and more of those unknown tropical plants to buy. 

When visiting the Garden, you do need to be vigilant to find the tropical plants, as they are scattered throughout the garden, mixed in with plants from around the world.  However, strolling around the Garden and bumping into these tropical beauties unexpectedly is pure delight.  To find the new tropical plants 'in the flesh' so to speak and  to be able to touch them, photograph them and then to be able to buy them at the Plant Sale, is a tropical plant lover's paradise. 

Gardens are never static and the RBG is no exception.  The demise and removal of a large Fig tree provided the opportunity to create a new Tropical Garden.  Even though the removal of the Fig allowed more light into the garden, it is still protected from the full sun by the surrounding trees.  The garden is trialling tropical plants suitable for the Sydney climate.  This garden and the Begonia garden are the two  gardens with the greatest number of tropical plants.

 Our Royal Botanic Garden celebrates its 200th birthday in 2016 and it is undergoing a renovation to reach top world class standards and have the RBG recognised as one of the world's best.  The Garden will become more design orientated as.......'Design  of the Garden has happened a bit haphazardly with a lot of imput over many generations; until now there has not been a grand plan or vision for the overall design and design purpose for the Garden' (Radio interview with Professor David Mabberley, the newly appointed Executive Director. 25/01/2012)

There will be major changes to the Pyramid and Tropical Centre; it will become the Pyramid of Life Visitor and Education Centre.  A new educational hub for biodiversity and environmental sustainability; where visitors will be able to explore endangered biomes featuring 'rare and endangered' plants.

It is a good time to visit the Garden, before these changes do take place, for a final look at the garden as we know it and bid a final farewell.

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