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Behind the Garden Gates: An interview with Tim Entwisle

We chatted to Head of the Gardens, Tim Entwisle, about exciting new developments, favourite species and conservation projects, and took a look at some wonderful photographs he's taken behind the scenes!

What work has been going on at the Gardens recently?

At both Cranbourne and Melbourne, our horticultural teams are putting extra effort into planting and landscape works. The Cranbourne team are continuing to care for the 363 hectares of native Australian bushland surrounding the Gardens, and carrying out important conservation work to protect native Australian fauna and flora. Over the past month, they’ve planted several thousand plants along the Eucalyptus Walk and many other areas of the Australian Garden, commenced a tree management program, freshened up display gardens and potted up flora for spring planting. At Melbourne Gardens, work on revamping the Arid Gardens is well underway. The new collection will feature more than 3000 cacti and succulents, including 400 different species, many of which sourced from world-renowned international collections. It’s exciting to watch the collection being built and planted and to have such an enthusiastic and engaged donor, Mrs Joan Darling, to thank! The Cactus and Succulent Society of Australia have also helped us get in some enticing plant material.

How is the wildlife at Cranbourne Gardens? 

Cranbourne is experiencing a flurry of activity! Less foot-traffic has resulted in an amazing array of critters – from wallabies and birds to echidnas and our beloved Southern Brown Bandicoot population – venturing closer to roads and buildings within the Gardens. Staff have been very much enjoying closer encounters with these wonderful creatures, and I hope all our visitors can soon return to see them again. 

What are your favourite species at Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens at the moment?

Usually, I’d say my favourite is the Rainbow Gum (Eucalyptus deglupta) planted next to the new Sensory Garden. Until it matures, the Araucaria collection and, right now, the Tupelos (Nyssa sylvatica) in their lovely red autumn colour are spectacular. At Cranbourne Gardens, I particularly admire the local orchids in the bushland and the Howson Hill collection of plants.

How has conservation work at the Gardens been impacted by the closure? 

The teams are pressing on with important conservation work, including propagating plants for our Care For The Rare and Orchid Conservation Programs at Cranbourne Gardens and continuing vital work in the Victorian Conservation Seedbank at Melbourne Gardens. 

What’s happening in your garden at home?

Most obviously the Boston Ivy is turning brilliant red while my Parrotia persica is yet again failing to put on an autumn show.

What’s your number one autumn gardening tip we can use in our own backyards?

Now is the time to mulch! Mulch everything, from deciduous trees to your veggie garden. Mulching will help ward off weeds, preserve moisture in the soil, and set your plants up for a happy and healthy winter.

Follow Tim on Twitter and Instagram to see more of his beautiful photos. 

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