Sharon Willoughby, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

About Sharon Willoughby, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Sharon has worked for the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria since 1999. For the last decade she has been part of the Landscape Planning Group for the award winning Australian Garden at Cranbourne. Sharon has a background in ecology and is currently completing a PhD in Environmental History. Her real passion is telling stories about plants and our place in the natural world.

The Great Broad Walk Border at RBG Kew

I was recently lucky enough to sit with Richard Barley the Director of Horticulture, Learning and Operations at Royal Botanic Garden Kew, in amongst the plantings of the new Great Broad Walk Border at the end of its first summer. We talked about the history of this part of Kew, the development and design of the new borders, the plants that stop people in their tracks, seasonal succession planting and also the new pedestrian path surfaces now being used at Kew. Continue reading

On the nose: exploring fragrance in our ancient flora

Have you ever seen the beautiful Grevillea leucopteris? We have it growing far from its home in Western Australia on the northern side of Howson Hill in the Australian Garden at Cranbourne. When in flower it has large trusses of cream-white flowers arching over the surrounding garden – just magnificent. The Herbarium in Western Australia knows this beauty by the common name White Plume Grevillea. It is however more often known by another common name ‘Old Socks’ – as to some people these otherwise beautiful flowers have a very unpleasant smell indeed. Continue reading

Eucalypt trail finds stories in the trees

On 23 March 2016 the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) celebrated National Eucalypt Day with our partners at the Bjarne K Dahl Trust (Dahl Trust) by launching a new trail at Cranbourne Gardens Eucalypts for your home garden. This trail uses plant labels, signage and QR codes, linked to deeper web content and video, to highlight 40 small eucalypts that are terrific for Melbourne home gardens such as the beautiful Eucalyptus cosmophylla. The trail contains a wealth of information about how to: select, plant and care for a small gum tree that would be ideal for your home garden. Continue reading

Christmas tree – Oh Christmas Tree!

Walking through Observatory Gate at Melbourne Gardens in early December I passed one of my favourite native Christmas Trees – Bursaria spinosa. It was absolutely laden with tiny pearly white buds and on the verge of bursting into flower. Bursaria spinosa has a swag of common names depending on the Australian State you live in: Australian blackthorn, mock orange, native box, sweet bursaria and Christmas bush in honour of its star-white flowers and sweet perfume that scents the Victorian bush at Christmas time. Continue reading