This series of Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) posts do not fit with the expectations I had when initiating the Tasmanian Discoveries blog. My intention was to present stories ‘discovering’ Tasmanian wilderness areas only. A recent change in my life has prompted a revision of that original idea.
I always wanted to record the gems of Tasmania after I ‘discovered’ and immersed myself in each of them. Now I realise that such gems can be found closer to home and my experiences could/should be included in this blog.
Over a month ago I visited Hobart’s Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) on one of its special Sales Days to buy spring bulbs for planting in my own garden. On that blue sunny Autumn morning I was inspired to offer to volunteer within their gardens and get my hands dirty.
I was informed that there are options for people who want to volunteer for the RTBG including front gate greeter, buggy drivers, tour guide, seed bank assistant, or in various growing groups related to other parts of the large Botanical Gardens. You can read more on the RTBG site here. Currently almost 200 volunteers support the work of what has to be described as a skeleton staff when you consider the amount of time and effort required to keep the place functioning.
Days later I met with the Volunteer Co-ordinator (who has additional roles within the organisation!) and worked through a pleasant induction and orientation process. She presented me with a fat wad of papers to provide a crash course on the RTBG and to help me, once I started working, when members of the public ask questions. I will be able to refer for help from the paid staff, but we all know that having some knowledge can be a good thing.
Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is the oldest tree in the RTBG? It is probably the Cork Tree planted around 1830.
- What are the tallest trees? The Giant Sequoias in the entrance drive to the main gates at the top of the RTBG. One is approximately 41 metres tall.
- Where can I see Tasmania’s endemic tree, the Huon Pine? In the fernery and Tasmania Section of the garden.
- How big are the gardens?7 hectares or 34.6 acres.
- How many gardeners work in the RTBG? The horticulture team includes approximately 10 Full Time Equivalent staff. Their work is supported by volunteers and inmates on day release from Risdon Prison.
- What is the aboriginal heritage associated with the site? Carbon dated evidence of aboriginal occupation of the Gardens site goes back at least 5000 years with probable regular occupation onsite beyond 10000 years.
- How old is the RTBG? The beginning use of the site extends back to 1818; the RTBG has celebrated its bicentenary.
For blog readers from interstate and overseas who cannot easily visit, take a Virtual Tour of the Hobart based, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
Reblogged this on Wilfred Books and commented:
Apparently, the paid RTBG staff are supported by inmates from the nearby Risdon Prison, as well as other volunteers.
Yes that is correct. Volunteers are allocated to a variety of areas of need across the Garden and generally a person stays with their allocation -although they can ask to be moved to another area when a vacancy becomes available. The inmates work at various jobs like mowing but do not work in the Food Garden.
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I always find it quite interesting to read/hear about Risdon Prison, as Risdon is my family name; although I’m not aware of any ancestors ever having been ‘guests’ of the place 😉 I have a lovely photo of my 2 uncles (one now sadly deceased) flanking the visitor information sign for the area, with proprietorial smiles on their faces! 🙂
We have two suburbs near the Prison, Risdon and Risdon Vale, and I assume the Prison was named for the locality. The Risdon area was that which was first settled, albeit for a few weeks in 1803 – before they realised that the site of Hobart on the other side of the Derwent River was the better site for a town. In another of my blogs (www.walkingthederwent.com) you can read more about my walk through that area.