A lifetime at the Gardens

Date posted: 28 December 2016

We now live in a world where changing jobs and industries many times over is the new normal, but earlier this month the Botanic Gardens celebrated the work of a special someone who has dedicated an astounding 60 years of service to our organisation.

Thekla Reichstein was first employed at Adelaide Botanic Garden on 3 May 1956 as only the second female trainee gardener in South Australia.

In 1960 she was appointed to the position of Technical Assistant to the Botanic Gardens, which saw her become progressively more involved in the technical and interpretive aspects of the organisation.

In the 1970s Thekla became responsible for the interpretive displays, exhibitions and rejuvenation of the Santos Museum of Economic Botany, and she deftly implemented modern practices in exhibition technology without compromising the integrity of the historic 18th century building.

Her later role at the Gardens’ telephone Advisory Service saw her provide invaluable horticultural advice to thousands of South Australian home gardeners and organisations for many years.

Indeed, her vast knowledge has been widely sought after in myriad other ways – from countless talks on the Gardens’ history to various groups and societies, to newspaper columns on all sorts of horticultural matters, and from concurrent roles at the Australian Institute of Horticulture and Australian Garden History Society (SA), to lecturing students studying for the Gardens’ Certificate of Horticulture.

Thekla also developed the Botanic Gardens’ specialist botanical and horticultural photographic slide collection – an invaluable resource to the State comprising tens-of-thousands of images, which is in demand for publications (internally and externally), and for lecture and reference purposes.

She has overseen the transition of access to this collection from manual to electronic with the development of a database of a wide range of information relating to the images.

Thekla retired in June 2003 – completing 47 years of official employment with the Gardens – but she has continued to volunteer in the Gardens’ Library to this day, working on the slide collection and documenting history relating to the Gardens.

She’s very well respected by the Botanic Gardens community and is a regularly consulted resource both within the Gardens and greater community on matters relating to the history of the Gardens.

Thekla celebrated her 60 years at the Gardens earlier this month with close friends and colleagues at Adelaide Botanic Garden, a week before her 80th birthday.

And given her penchant for documenting the history of the Gardens, we thought it only fitting that we immortalise her achievements here on the Blog. Congratulations Thekla, and THANK YOU for everything you’ve done!

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