Boabs and Bottle Trees with Attila Kapitany

Boabs and Bottle Trees: Join Attila Kapitany as we marvel at these majestic and spectacular giants of the Australian continent, some grotesque and monstrous, others appearing in need of a hug. Much of the presentation will show trees in habitat but with regular reference to cultivation and numerous pictures to support their incredible potential in landscape gardening and design. While some people are aware that Australia has the Queensland bottle tree (Brachychiton rupestris), most aren’t aware of several other species within the genus that also develop bottle-shaped trunks, such as Brachychiton compactus.  This is a much rarer and much more spectacular species, primarily in that its flowers are large and the canopy luxuriant. Even rarer new species will be shown as part of the presentation. Though not bottle trees, some other classic favourite Brachychitons will also be covered e.g. Brachychiton acerifolius and B. populneus.

Start your day at Cranbourne with Attila’s earlier talk on Australian Succulents and make sure you drop by the bookshop for one of his many excellent books.

Venue: Australian Garden Auditorium, Cranbourne Gardens
Cnr Ballarto Rd and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne
Melway Map 133 G10

Program for the day
10 – 10:30 am              Attila in Gardens Shop
10:30 am                      Attila in Auditorium for morning tea, also to chat to people
11:00 am  – 12 noon    Attila’s talk on Australian Succulents
12:30 – 1 pm                Attila in Gardens Shop
1:00 – 1:45 pm             Lunchtime
1:45 – 2 pm                  Attila in Auditorium to chat to people
2:00 – 3 pm                  Attila’s talk on Boabs & Bottle Trees
3:00 – 3:30 pm            Attila in Auditorium for afternoon tea, also to chat to people
3:30 – 4:00 pm            Attila in Gardens Shop

Cost: Morning (talk & refreshments): Members $20 Non-members $25 Students $10;
Afternoon (talk & refreshments): Members $20 Non-members $25 Students $10;
Both Talks (includes refreshmentsJ Members $30 Non-members $40 Students $15

Bookings are essential: go to Friends of Cranbourne, click on Events and scroll down to A day with Attila Kapitany – Australian Succulents and Boabs, and Bottle Trees to download a Booking Form.

Australian Succulents with Attila Kapitany

Spend a delightful day at Cranbourne with Attila Kapitany, expert on Australia’s native succulents and plants.

In Australian Succulent Plants Attila will show you a fresh approach to conventional attitudes and ideas about the diversity and beauty of Australian flora. Enjoy a colourful visual tour of lesser known and intriguing Australian native plants, mostly in habitat, some of which are rare and very unusual. With Australia’s natural flora of well over 20,000 species, at least 400 are considered to have a notable degree of succulence. Covering at least one hundred species from forty genera and touching on some traditional and modern foods, supply and availability, cultivation, conservation and other points of interest. Included are some of the most under-appreciated, diverse, and interesting of Australian plants. The fact that many of them are among the most drought- or dry-tolerant of all plants, helps link them all together, along with their obvious succulence. Many of these plants have never been trialled in gardens before. Some interesting aspects of their usefulness in the garden will be explored.

Then stay for a walk around the gardens and time to buy some of Attila’s excellent books, followed by Attila’s afternoon talk on Boabs and Bottle Trees

Venue: Australian Garden Auditorium, Cranbourne Gardens
Cnr Ballarto Rd and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne
Melway Map 133 G10

Program for the day
10 – 10:30 am              Attila in Gardens Shop
10:30 am                      Attila in Auditorium for morning tea, also to chat to people
11:00 am  – 12 noon    Attila’s talk on Australian Succulents
12:30 – 1 pm                Attila in Gardens Shop
1:00 – 1:45 pm             Lunchtime
1:45 – 2 pm                  Attila in Auditorium to chat to people
2:00 – 3 pm                  Attila’s talk on Boabs & Bottle Trees
3:00 – 3:30 pm            Attila in Auditorium for afternoon tea, also to chat to people
3:30 – 4:00 pm            Attila in Gardens Shop

Cost: Morning (talk & refreshments): Members $20 Non-members $25 Students $10;
Afternoon (talk & refreshments): Members $20 Non-members $25 Students $10;
Both Talks (includes refreshmentsJ Members $30 Non-members $40 Students $15

Bookings are essential: go to Friends of Cranbourne, click on Events and scroll down to A day with Attila Kapitany – Australian Succulents and Boabs, and Bottle Trees to download a Booking Form.

Making Kokedama balls, Melbourne

Whether this Kokedama art is for your bathroom, kitchen or shade area, you’ll love the experience of botanically crafting green growing spheres of moss and Australian plants. Tanja Beer will give an introduction to her art and work, then demonstrate how to make a Kokedama ball. Finally, under her watchful eye you’ll make your own glowing globe of greenness to take home. Plus, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to create more.

When: Saturday 6 May 2017
Place: Room PSL6 (follow the signs).
Burnley Campus, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond.
Time: 10 am – 12 pm
Cost: $40 (members). $50 (non-members). All materials and plants supplied.
Parking: available in the Boulevard
Bookings and payment essential: email or Tel: 9035 6815

Weeds, Plants & People, Melbourne

Weeds, Plants and People traces the fascinating history of many common plants that we now treat as weeds. From the thistles and thorns that appear in the Bible, to the seeds eaten by Stone Age people, and the grasses and flowers brought to Australia by European settlers, the story of the relationship between people and weeds is a complex and intriguing one.
Here it is told in a lively and engaging way for readers with or without botanical knowledge. Anybody interested in gardening, agriculture, the natural environment, medicinal herbs or cooking will glean a great deal from John Dwyer’s account of some of the most ancient plants known to humankind.

When: Tuesday 11 April 2017
Place: Room MB 10 (in the Main Building).
Burnley Campus, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond.
Time: 7.00 pm for drinks and nibbles
7.30 pm for the talk.
Cost: $5 (members). $15 (non-members).
Parking: available in the Boulevard

Cider Making Workshop

Learn to make great apple cider or upgrade knowledge and skills at this one day workshop. Rob Pelletier, course facilitator, is joined by a leading cider maker from Henry of Harcourt*, one or Australia’s pioneering, and award winning traditional cider making establishments.

Participants will see first hand suitable start-up equipment and supplies, learn the basic theory behind making cider, understand the steps required to produce cider, experience the preparation and processing of fruit, fermentation and bottling.

The finished product is not neglected. Over lunch there will be a tasting of selected varietal and blended ciders that will open the door to the world of fine cider and how to select the correct fruit to produce it.

Special Features
Orchard Tour – the Collections Orchard contains over 300 varieties of apples including many English, French and other cider varieties.
Equipment demonstrations – both low cost and entry level professional equipment will be demonstrated.
Tasting – the included cider tasting follows the same format used by Drew Henry at professional conferences.
Cider apples – a number of top cider apples will be available for inspection and tasting on the day.
Cider sales – Selected varietal and blended award winning Henry of Harcourt ciders will be available for purchase on the day.

Heritage Fruit Trees is a 2 hour drive west of Melbourne.

Italian garden design’s influence on Australian gardens

How has Italian garden design influenced the design of Australian gardens? Join award-winning Italo-Australian landscape designer Carlo Gabriele as he explains the far-reaching influences of Italian design and its relevance and inspiration to designing gardens in Australia.

When: Tuesday 4 April at 6 for 6.30 pm
Where: Mueller Hall, National Herbarium
Cost: Friends $20 Non-members $25 Students $10
Bookings close 1 May
Refreshments will be served before the talk.
Bookings essential
Enquiries: Friends’ office (03) 9650 6398

Risqué Royals, Flirtatious Females & Scandalous Sirs

A rose by any other name? Join new ASA Tour Leader Deryn Thorpe for “Risqué Royals, Flirtatious Females & Scandalous Sirs“, an entertaining romp through the pages of garden history!

Deryn Thorpe presents an entertaining lecture on how a selection of roses have been named after historical figures. Using historical letters, poetry, diary entries and beautiful rose images, this irreverent lecture explores the lives of some well-known people and the roses named after them. The lecture will appeal to anyone who enjoys gardens, history and the simple pleasure of some good stories well told.

Date: Saturday 1 April 2017
Time: 2.00pm – Refreshments to follow

Bookings Essential
COST: Complimentary, however bookings are essential.
RESERVATIONS: Please book online, or contact ASA on: (03) 9822 6899, Freecall 1800 645755 (outside Melbourne Metro) or email:
VENUE: Theatre, Lauriston Girls’ School, 38 Huntingtower Road, Armadale.

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show

With a major focus on emerging lifestyle trends, the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show is set to inspire crowds with breathtaking floral displays and spectacular Show Gardens. Visitors to the show will also experience masterclasses with floral designers, to meet key landscape designers, exhibitors and industry experts, as well as peruse the avenues of exhibitors selling everything from bulbs, plants, tools, trinkets and garden accessories. The prestigious Show is well established in the psyche of Australians as a “must see” event. Open daily 9am to 5pm, with special extra Gardens by Twilight opening until 9.30pm on Friday 31 March 2017.

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show

The Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show is Australia’s largest garden show, with designer display gardens, Avenue of Achievable Gardens, hundreds of stalls selling plants and garden products, gardening and design advice clinics, floristry displays, garden art, entertainment, food stalls. Special ‘Gardens by Twilight’ opening until 9pm on Friday 31 March.

Adults $29.90, concession $25.90, children under 14 free.

Burnley Plant Sale

BURNLEY PLANT SALE on Tuesday 21 March 2016 from 12:00 – 3:00 pm. Select from a range of native, exotic and produce plants.
Location – outside the Student Union Building, University of Melbourne Burnley Campus, 500 Yarra Boulevard Richmond. Parking on Yarra Boulevard (Melways Map 45 & X872). Plant list will be available on the website. Payments by cash only. All funds raised go to Burnley Gardens Projects.

Garden Releaf

Independent garden centres across Australia will be holding Garden Releaf Day 2017 on Sunday March 19. Amongst other things there will be loads of fun, COLOUR themed activities and focusing on the benefits of plants and gardens to enrich our lives. Garden centres will be exploding with beautiful plants and informative displays.

Established in 2014 by Garden Centres Australia (GCA) Garden Releaf is an innovative program to help people understand the benefits that; spending time in a garden, being surrounded by living plants and enjoying healthy fresh produce can have on a person’s health and wellbeing. The program aims to provide the community with ideas and inspiration, information and events through its supporting Independent Garden Centres about how they can get involved with immersing themselves in plants and gardens; whether they are apartment dwellers, city block residents or on the land. The Garden Releaf program also focuses on raising money to support selected charities, such as beyondblue

Check out the program at your local independent nursery HERE

Cranbourne Plant Sale

Autumn Plant Sale of Australian plants for the Growing Friends group of the Cranbourne Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Inc.
Plant sale dates: Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th March, 2017
Times: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on both days
A wide range of Australian plants in tubes and larger pots will be for sale – priced from $3. (Cash or cheques only, no credit/debit card facilities)
Cranbourne Gardens is an easy one hour drive from Melbourne and the plant sale is a great opportunity to purchase Australian native plants and look around the Australian Garden.

Orchard Ramble

Join Heritage Fruit Tree proprietor Rob Pelletier for an informative and enjoyable orchard ramble through Heritage Fruit Tree’s Collections Orchard and gardens.

The Collections Orchard, unique in Australia, has over 300 apple varieties, around 40 table grapes and a collection of stone fruit and figs with many in fruit and ripe during Autumn. Access to this orchard is strictly controlled due to the value of the genetic material and biosecurity concerns – please do not bring fruit or parts of fruit trees with you when visiting.

Taste what’s in season, pick up tips and techniques for getting the best out of your fruit trees and learn the fascinating stories behind some the wonderful old apple varieties, many handed down over centuries.

Heritage Fruit trees is a 2 hour drive west of Melbourne.

Growing, killing, learning & succeeding with plants

John Raynor’s 2 acre garden, Brookdale Farm at Emerald is a burst of tingles and surprises. Most of the garden plants are structured around form and texture, low maintenance and no irrigation. He has a scientific approach to design using the right plant in the right place. He advocates dividing and massing (for spectacular effect and to save money). His edible garden includes espaliered fruit trees and imaginative approaches to old ideas. This is a rare treat to learn about John’s own garden.

When: Wednesday 15 March 2017
Place: Room MB 10 (in the Main Building).
Burnley Campus, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond.
Time: 7.00 pm for drinks and nibbles
7.30 pm for the talk.
Cost: $5 (members). Non-members = $15
Parking: available in the Boulevard

About John Raynor:
Director of Horticulture – University of Melbourne, Burnley Campus, Burnley graduate and Burnley lecturer for many years (and still going strong). His main area of research is Green Roofs and Walls. John’s engaging personality makes him a pleasure to listen to and there are few people who can combine experience, knowledge and creativity with a professional presentation. He appears regularly on ABC radio in Melbourne and his garden appears in the Open Gardens Australia scheme.

Botanical Art Workshops, Melbourne

Four weekly sessions in a small class with botanical artist Mali Moir working with watercolour pencils. This is a special workshop for Friends of Burnley Gardens members and the general public, and includes the opportunity to have your botanical illustrations included in a soon-to-be published book on Burnley Gardens. Wednesday 15 and 22 February and 1 and 8 March 2017, 10am to 12.30pm (room available to workshop participants until 3pm). Quad 4, Burnley Campus, University of Melbourne, 500 Yarra Bvd, Richmond. FOBG members $200, non-members $240. Bookings essential, contact Jennene at

Christmas Plant Sale

Christmas Plant Sale at Burnley Gardens. Wednesday 14 December 2016
12:00 – 3:00 pm. Buy a sustainable gift or something to brighten your garden from
our range of native, exotic and produce plants.

Location – outside the Student Union Building
Parking on Yarra Boulevard (Melways Map 45 & X872)
Payments by cash only. Funds raised go to Burnley Gardens Projects – see Achievements for details

Kangaroo Paw Symposium

Come to our three-day Symposium 24-26 November 2016, ‘Celebrating the Kangaroo Paw’, with much to interest everyone from botanists to landscape practitioners and also home gardeners. Only $100/day for a full day of expert lectures and workshops.

Topics will cover the whole Kangaroo Paw Family (Haemodoraceae).

Speakers will include

•    Prof Stephen Hopper (world authority on the Haemodoraceae Family)

•    Prof Kingsley Dixon from Curtin University

•    Dr Brett Summerell, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

•    Angus Stewart, kangaroo paw breeder and native plant expert

plus many more local and overseas people with special expertise.

An Evening at Historic ‘Chesterfield’, Geelong

Join landscape designer Stephen Read and owner Mary-Jane Walker for an evening in the grand dining room at ‘Chesterfield‘, one of Geelong’s oldest surviving Georgian homes and surrounded by a beautiful garden. Held as part of Garden DesignFest 2016, the Chesterfield soirée includes a talk by Stephen and Mary-Jane about the historic property. From 5.30 to 7.30pm, Saturday 19 November 2016 at 221 Nobel Street Newtown. Tickets available through Eventbrite.

Hear Mary-Jane describe the history of Chesterfield and how it was saved from the developer’s bulldozer and new life given to this old Georgian gem. Stephen will talk about ‘Reflections on Sense of Place and Purpose‘, discussing why landscape and garden designers need to be present, and take time to tap into what makes a place unique.

Chesterfield‘ is also open during the day from 10am-5pm on 19 and 20 November 2016 as part of Melbourne’s Garden DesignFest. More info on Garden DesignFest here

Perennials at Chesterfield garden, Geelong. Design Stephen Read Landscape Design
Perennials at Chesterfield garden, Geelong. Design Stephen Read Landscape Design

Botanic and Rare Plant Fair

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Diggers Club present a new opportunity to purchase rare and unusual plants, all in one place on one weekend, in spring, directly from growers. Plus 3 expert panel talks each day featuring well-known gardening personalities such as Tim Entwisle, Michael McCoy, Teena Crawford, Jim Fogarty, Jane Edmanson, Clive Blazey, Millie Ross, Andrew Laidlaw and Rodger Elliot.

Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 October, 10am – 4pm, Observatory Precinct, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria – Melbourne Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne Vic 3004. Entry $10 Adult (Under 16 years free), $30 Panel discussions & behind the scenes tours (Pre-booking essential)

Botanical Art Workshop

Botanical art workshop with Mali Moir in 3 sessions: 21 September, 19 October and 16 November 2016. Mali is an accomplished botanical artist and graduate of Burnley.
After horticulture, Mali studied botanical art and went on to work as the botanical illustrator at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. She now exhibits her work and runs botanical art classes. She can cater for all levels of expertise, from the … “I really can’t draw” to “I just need some help with this”. Medium – water colour pencils.

10am – 12.30pm each session. Total for 3 sessions $180, members $150. BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL. Go to

The Art of Botanical Illustration

Presented by the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, this is our thirteenth famous biennial exhibition. It is Australia’s premier selected exhibition of botanical works – 175 stunning paintings and drawings by 98 local, interstate and overseas artists. This year, in addition to conventional botanical illustration, we have encouraged artists to go outside the traditional botanical illustration terms of reference and produce some innovative works of art. Not to be missed!
FREE ENTRY, open daily 10am-4pm.
Domain House Gallery
Dallas Brooks Drive, Melbourne, Victoria 3142 Australia

Terrariums with Style

Workshop at Burnley College in Melbourne on how to create a terrarium with terrarium expert Sascha Andrusiak. Take home a terrarium you’ve made. An ideal Christmas gift!

Saturday 8 October 2016, 10am-1pm. $65 members, $85 non-members. Includes terrarium and plants and morning tea. Bring sharp, clean secateurs and wear closed shoes. Bookings and prepayment essential

Burnley Bees and Backyard Honey

Learn how to cultivate your own bee hive from apiarist Peter Dyer of Backyard Honey. Peter helps city dwellers with the necessary equipment and skills to host a bee hive in your backyard and harvest your own honey. Friends of Burnley Gardens. Burnley Campus MB11 (Main Building), 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond. Wednesday 14 September 2016, 7pm for 7.30pm start. Bookings essential ph 03 90356861 or contact Andrew Smith

Gardens as Therapy

Join Churchill Fellowship winner and ABC 2012 ‘Gardener of the Year’ Steven Wells on this ‘world tour’ of healthcare gardens in the UK, USA and Singapore.
Steven has successfully combined his nursing and horticulture careers to be working as a horticultural therapist, nurse and the Gardens Project Officer at Austin Health in Melbourne. He has established the horticultural therapy program and designed and implemented the sensory and healing gardens at Austin Health’s Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre.

Tuesday 13 September at 6.30pm, Mueller Hall, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. $20, Friends $15. Bookings essential.

Australian Conifers, Casuarinas, Bonsai + more

Broaden your knowledge and outlook about our ‘other’, fantastic Aussie trees! Dr Roger Spencer will lead us into the world of the non-flowering Australian Tree Gymnosperms such as Agathis, Araucarias, Athrotaxis, Callitris, Largostrobus, Phyllocladus, Podocarpus, Prumnopitys and Wollemia. The renowned Dr Greg Moore will cover aspects of urban tree planting, Kevin Ritchie from the Victorian Native Bonsai Club will speak about ‘Penjing’ with Australian trees, Rodger Elliot will be covering Casuarinas and their allies including the beautiful ‘Daintree Pine’, Rodger & Gwen Elliot will show how shrubs might become small trees and John Thompson will tell how these plants have been utilised and the inspiration for a whole range of other uses over time.

Bookings are essential. Members $60 • non-members $75 • students $30
Booking forms: Friends of RBG Cranbourne – Activities .

South Australia’s landscapes & plants

Talk by Cranbourne Gardens staff members Sturt Gibbs and Trevor Seppings who went of an exploratory trip to South Australia that went as far as Port Augusta. This trip provided them with personal and professional development opportunities, as well as practical insights into the cultivation and environmental tolerance of a range of plant species potentially suited for cultivation in the Australian Garden.

Sturt, Trevor and Cali Salzmann were recipients of a Elisabeth Murdoch Scholarship, made possible by the Maud Gibson Trust which supports activities of the RBG Victoria. Sunday 31 July 2016. Cranbourne Gardens is an easy 1 hour drive south-east of Melbourne. Bookings required – $15 members, $20 adults, $10 students. Email

Autumn leaves and private gardens: AGHS garden tour April 2016

As the coach left the Melbourne Arts Centre the clouds darkened and raindrops spattered on the windscreen, increasing to a deluge as we progressed towards north east Victoria. But we are intrepid gardeners and obsessive garden visitors so we refused to be daunted! Continue reading “Autumn leaves and private gardens: AGHS garden tour April 2016”

Walking in Victoria’s High Country

Garden lovers are nature lovers and one of my favourite pastimes is packing my rucksack and saying goodbye to reality before taking off into the Australian bush on my own for a few days of walking. Midsummer is not a typically popular time for bushwalking in Australia. Summers regularly reach a windy 40 degrees celsius, and avoiding remote bushland on such days is as much about avoiding chafing thighs as it is an act of self preservation. Continue reading “Walking in Victoria’s High Country”

Wonder, delight & mystery: Australian Landscape Conference in review

The 2015 Australian Landscape Conference – held in Melbourne in late September – was a memorable two-day session. More than 600 local and international attendees followed the thought-provoking input of landscape designers drawn from overseas and Australia. Continue reading “Wonder, delight & mystery: Australian Landscape Conference in review”

Review: Garden DesignFest tours

Garden DesignFest has reigned as Australia’s premier open garden style event for a number of years now, since its inception relatively recently in 2004. Biennially and over two days in and around Melbourne, several thousand garden lovers from all around Australia converge to have their garden curiosity taste buds sated as the gates are opened to some of the most creative, elegant, quirky and pampered private gardens that one could ever dream of entering.


Continue reading “Review: Garden DesignFest tours”

La Trobe’s Cottage garden wins award!

The Friends of La Trobe’s Cottage are a band of dedicated volunteers and who entered for the second time into the Victorian Community History Awards in the category Historical Interpretation. This award recognises the unique formats of historical representation through the use of physical exhibitions, artistic interpretation, history walks and tours. And we won which is very exciting for all the volunteers that help at the cottage.

Continue reading “La Trobe’s Cottage garden wins award!”

Garden oddities – floral clocks

One of the horticultural oddities of the last century is the floral clock. Most of us have encountered them from time to time during our travels, often sighted on gentle slopes in manicured public gardens at tourist destinations. Apart from a moment’s thought at the sophistication of the technology and the intricate plantings used by the designers, most of these outdoor landscapes are soon forgotten. Continue reading “Garden oddities – floral clocks”

Captain Cook’s ivy a worthy sailor

“Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.” A quote by Captain James Cook in reference to him digging for potatoes in his garden? Perhaps unlikely, but the great explorer may have had a greener upbringing than his sea blue finale. It wasn’t my sole reason for heading to Melbourne, but along with the restful Fitzroy Gardens, the ever changing observatory and the house and gardens of the Cook family, the area remains a focal point of horticultural attraction in the heart of the Victorian capital. Continue reading “Captain Cook’s ivy a worthy sailor”

Green is the new black in Melbourne

A few months ago I took one of my regular trips down to Melbourne to visit a close girlfriend who lives there. Over the three days I was there, I was struck by how green Melbourne was. Not that it has more parkland that I remembered or that it was mindblowingly sustainable – but that at the moment green seems to be the new black. Terrariums in cafes, rooftop veggie gardens in the city, living cacti necklaces…you name it, it’s there, and accessible for the average tourist. Continue reading “Green is the new black in Melbourne”

Garden DesignFest is Design Feast

I am smugly replete. What an amazing two full-on days of gardens. About 327 gardens all up I think, although maybe that was me feeling a little drunk on the heady elixir of high-quality design. Checking the DesignFest book, I see we made it to 17 of the 26 possible gardens, taking in tiny courtyards, suburban-sized yards and even enormous estates that seemed to roll down the hill with a cornucopia of flowers, paths, pavilions and foliage. Continue reading “Garden DesignFest is Design Feast”