An Alpine Daisy (Brachyscome tadgellii)

Welcome to Wild at Home Part 4 - Guest blog by Dr Megan Hirst

Have you ever fallen in love at first sight. That instant connection, butterflies in your belly and you want to know everything about it?

Yes, I said it haha because I'm talking about flowers! I'd say if you are reading this blog, you know exactly what I mean. You revel in the delights that nature brings and celebrate nature through your work or like me, creativity. (More about how this series has inspired me at the end).

I'm very proud to introduce you to a guest blogger this week, Dr Megan Hirst, Seed Researcher, Raising Rarity Founder and Botany Bootcamp leader!

Meg splits her working week between the RBGV in the Victorian Conservation Seedbank and at Deakin University in the extreme plant ecology lab under the guidance of Dr Susanna Venn. Meg is a committed teacher, researcher and horticulturalist. Combined with her education, employment and research training she has extensive practical experience growing, tending and studying plants in both scientific public garden and experimental settings.

You can watch the video here or by clicking on the image above! Over to you Meg...

"Hi there, I've enjoyed this series so far and hope you have too! Let me tell you a little about what I do and introduce one of my favourite plants.

Plants sustain us and all terrestrial ecosystems yet >20% of plants on earth are threatened with extinction. There are many strategies in place with amazing work being undertaken in plant conservation.

However what troubles me is the limited opportunities for the community to learn about plants. The less we know about plants the less likely we are to act for their conservation. Botanic Gardens generally are well positioned to act for nature. Therefore it is important that they are appropriately funded to undertake a vital role in botanical education. Those of us who work in Botanic Gardens want to engage the community with knowledge to care for rare and endangered species.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria plays a leading role in the conservation of plants through biodiversity research, management and education programs designed to protect rare and threatened plants. The Gardens connect over two million visitors to nature, inspiring them to act for nature in their own lives.

The Raising Rarity project is designed to engage home gardeners in playing an active role in the protection of Victoria’s rare and threatened plant species within their own garden space, so taking the plants to the people so to speak. We want our project to be facilitated at a large scale and the popularity of these plants become welcome additions to suburban gardens providing a meaningful opportunity for the community to provide sanctuary and care for these precious rare and threatened plants.

Working in the Victorian Conservation Seedbank is a mix of lab and field work, so really the best of both worlds, for example, getting up close with plants in the wild and seeing how they coexist with other species, and testing their germination responses in the lab.

Tadgels Brachyscome (Brachyscome tadgellii) is one such plant. In nature, it is found growing high above the tree line in the Victorian alpine region.

It is a vulnerable species (as many plants unfortunately are in the alps) and this is due to habitat loss and the threatening processes under a changing climate, such as less snow, warmer winters, and drier summers. It is a clumping perennial herb with quite a variable leaf shape, ranging from thin and linear to almost succulent, thick, and lobed.

The large white flowers (technically inflorescences) appear throughout spring, summer, and autumn. Used ideally at the forefront of a mixed border or in drifts in a perennial border. This plant will require additional water in the warmer months. Cut back the flowerheads after seed collection.

A few things you may not know about me...

I was on a reality TV show the Singing Office…which is weird as I am tone deaf

I am prone to anxiety (panic) attacks and have found the art of running as the best way to deal with it

My primary school career ambition was to be a dentist.

Being out in the field doesn't come without risks... I lost that broad brim hat in a high alpine wind not long afterwards and am still on the lookout for it whenever I go back there :)

Selfie taken at Buckety Plains on the Bogong High Plains, Victoria

I absolutely love this picture! It is on the summit of Mt Cope with Russell Larke and Danny White. We had the best day seed collecting, and I think it shows. Notice the new hat?"

A huge thank you to Meg for her generous spirit, time, enthusiasm and generally being an awesome human! I really enjoyed my time with Meg and could have easily chatted all day. I'm sure you will find her as captivating as I do.

Meg runs Botany Bootcamp at the RBGV with her friend Georgia Warren and together they introduce basic botany, and garden design along with a little exercise and a lot of fun to get participants motivated about plants and acting for nature.

It kicks off this month so get booking!

Hear what Costa Georgiadis has to say about it - watch it here