Date posted: 24 June 2014

Role with the Gardens:

Horticultural Curator of Plant Propagation. The main purpose of my role is to propagate and grow plants for Adelaide’s three Botanic Gardens, Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga. I work closely with all the curatorial staff in the gardens to ascertain which plants are required for their sections. In the Nursery we undertake a variety of propagation methods such as seed germination, vegetative techniques including a range of different cutting methods and grafting and budding of various species. I also work in conjunction with the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre to propagate South Australia’s rare and threatened flora.

How long have you worked in the Nursery:

Seven years. I also have extensive commercial nursery experience and have worked as a nursery horticulturist for 30 years.

Favourite spot in Mount Lofty Botanic Garden:

I’m a bit biased but I would have to say the Nursery, we deal with such a diverse range of species from all over the world. In Mount Lofty Botanic Garden there are many areas I’m fond of and as a true seasonal garden it depends on the time of year. There’s a natural area where native orchids emerge. There are so many beautiful varieties including spider orchids, donkey greenhoods and, my favourite, sun orchids.

Other areas I enjoy are the ornamental cherry section, which has fields of flowering bluebells, and the magnolias when they’re in full flower. There’s almost too many favourite spots to mention! Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is a true hidden gem, I would encourage people to visit throughout the year to enjoy the seasonal variations.

Special Botanic Gardens memory:

I’m from interstate originally and when I moved to Adelaide one of my favourite things to do was to visit the Botanic Gardens. I always thought it was a great place to visit and would be a fantastic place to work. Working here has been a dream come true and lived up to all my expectations, so, my special memory would have to be the day I got my position here. It’s the perfect role for me to contribute my experience and continue to learn. In horticulture you never stop learning!

Favourite plant and why:

This is almost an impossible question to answer as there are so many beautiful plants and my favourite changes from time to time. The benefit of working in the nursery is that we deal with a lot of plants others don’t get to see. I am fascinated by the way plants grow and over the last few years the plant I have been most interested in is the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum). We have been tracking the growth rate of the plant, and have been amazed. My greatest challenge with the organisation will be to bring this plant into flower as it’s a rarity and the pinnacle of horticulture. There are so many other fascinating plants…I could go on for hours.

Best thing about working in the Nursery:

The exposure to plants you would not come across in other organisations and the ability to carry out research to better understand plants and how they grow. I have been propagating for a long time and am always amazed at how plants can be reproduced. Even after all these years it’s still exciting to see seeds germinate or cuttings develop a root system.

When I walk through the garden and see plants I’ve propagated I get a great amount of satisfaction knowing it will be there for future generations to enjoy. Students and trainees that spend time in the nursery often tell me I have the best job, and I can’t disagree!

Want to learn more about propagation from Matt, you can hear him share his expertise on 891 ABC Talkback Gardening.

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