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.