Curing plant blindness and illiteracy

Dr Tim Entwisle

CEO and Director of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Humans display symptoms of two potentially life-threatening diseases: plant blindness and plant illiteracy.  We either take plants for granted, viewing them as a kind of green wall-paper, or we fail to appreciate just how important they are to life on Earth.

Botanic gardens have always celebrated plant life, displaying its variety and beauty.  Now they must do more.  Without losing their whimsy and charm, botanic gardens have a job to do.   Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, outlines his aspirations for one of Victoria’s oldest and most cherished scientific and cultural organisations.

In 1969 the Melbourne Gardens were described as ‘the most beautiful of their kind in the southern hemisphere and perhaps the world’ and last year the newly opened Australian Garden at Cranbourne was said to be ‘after the Opera House [in Sydney]…the most stunning piece of design in Australia’.  The Gardens’ National Herbarium of Victoria is the oldest, and historically and scientifically richest, collection of preserved plants, algae and fungi in Australia.  And then you have more than two hundred staff, volunteers and associates who are experts in horticulture, systematics, ecology, conservation and education.  With assets like these the Royal Botanic Gardens is well placed to provide a cure.  Tim will explain how.