How does a rare plant get from the wild into your garden?

Welcome to the sixth and final part of the Raising Rarity series (well for now) with my special guests RBGV Dr Meg Hirst and Mandy Thompson.

Many of Australia's rare plant species are only found in ecosystems that are seriously threatened by climate change, habitat loss, fragmentation, and genetic isolation.

We are blessed with a stunning array of natives in Victoria, but with so many challenges facing our flora how can we get involved to protect our native plants?

That's what the Raising Rarity Program by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) seeks to do, in raising public knowledge and awareness of Victoria’s rare and threatened wildflower species by cultivating them so we can bring them into our gardens. It's quite a novel approach to assess the horticultural potential of rare species and provide opportunity for home gardeners to enjoy these plants while contributing to the ongoing conservation of these species in their gardens.

In case you haven't visited yet, RBGV Australian Garden in Cranbourne features stunning vistas and maintained gardens, honouring Australian flora with a natural bushland experience alongside the Australian Garden. Celebrating the beauty and diversity of Australian landscapes. It also serves as a centre for important plant research, seed collection and cultivation.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve learnt about some of the key species and got to know the team behind the program, this week we dive a little deeper to understand what’s happening behind the scenes and the challenges a long project like this brings.

Watch the video above where Raising Rarity Founder Meg Hirst and Mandy Thompson, Team Leader of Nursery Horticulture, share about their roles and what it takes to get a plant to sale, starting with collections in the wild. And I’m gladly behind the camera for this one!

Don’t forget the spring plant sale on the 22nd -23rd of October, come along and take some of the

Raising Rarity species home!

Since I was a child, nature has fascinated me. I’ve always been curious about every animal, plant, insect, forest, or waterway and that hasn't changed as I've grown up.

Our lives are filled with amazing moments, both spectacular and ordinary, that are framed by nature. We gather those we love in our favourite natural places (parks, beaches and rivers) to celebrate and share, as people have done for thousands of years.

Every time I walk out my door, I discover a world filled with adventure, excitement, inspiration, and discovery.

Sir David Attenborough said it best "An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment."

But I don’t have to be out in the bush to feel like this. I find nature strips and gardens a real delight, you’ll often find me peering into someone's front garden or checking out the plants on the fence line. I’m just passionate about nature and I as I deepen my connection to it, I hope to encourage you to deepen yours, to share the beauty I see around me. It’s one of the reasons I became an artist.

I truly believe that to save our natural world we must fall in love with it.

Because when we fall in love with a flower, plant, or animal we become its champion. We take steps to understand what it needs, it’s habitat and what else is in its ecosystem. Most of all we are driven to share what we love, and that really is the key to projects like this, spreading awareness.

The more we learn about the amazing world around us the more we can protect and nurture it.

The devastating fires of 2019 in our alpine regions (where most of the Raising Rarity species reside), coupled with the temperature changes in their habit, means rare species are facing much bigger challenges than before. Identification of these species at risk of extinction and a focus on conservation efforts for those that are most seriously threatened, are important drivers in plant conservation science.

Climate change predictions are that the weather will get wilder and fires more severe, so the Raising Rarity program is more important than ever, by cultivating these rare and threatened plants we can ensure they continue to be enjoyed in gardens by everyone and the research will help populations in the wild.

The Raising Rarity team accomplish this by working with rare species that they believe have the potential for use in horticulture. They then collect seeds or cuttings from their research plants, setting them up in the nursery in containers, which then get transplanted in the Research Garden located within the Australian Garden at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) Cranbourne. Pop by when you next visit the gardens and see how the plants are doing!

In creating this series I have got to know the Raising Rarity team pretty well, I hear the passion in their words, see it in their faces and the dedication they have to peruse their work is nothing short of inspiring to me.

I'm very grateful for the time I spent with Meg, Russell, Matt, Caitlin, Mandy and Kaishan. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and work with us. And I'm especially thankful for their patience with me, as I've never filmed an interview or done anything like this before.

I hope you have enjoyed these videos and blog as much as I have, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please comment below.

I'll be back in a months time with some coverage of the plant sale, update on my home research project and a highlight of the Botanical Illustrators group I'm part of.

Are you a keen gardener or someone that would like more native plants around your home? I'm launching a home research project from the Spring Plant Sale, to show how well the Raising Rarity plants are doing in our gardens.

You can get involved here!

Awareness is so important to this program, please do subscribe, comment and share this with friends, thank you.

OK now the fun stuff you can get involved with over the coming months:

What's on at Cranbourne:

Spring Plant Sale Sat 22nd and Sun 23rd October 2022 - 10.00am to 4pm

A special feature of this year’s sale will be the RBGV’s Raising Rarity plants.