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Read New life for an old feature: Guilfoyle’s Volcano
in WGI Online 5.1

Guilfoyle’s Volcano 
Erupts with New Growth

by Jeremy Prentice,
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Australia
Click images to enlarge

One of the great aspects of gardening is the organic, unplanned nature of seasonal events and challenges … isn’t it??

When I last wrote all was humming along nicely -- the floating islands were planted up and merrily plunging their roots into the water; cacti and succulents were being planted at a rapid rate; paths, boardwalks and signs were receiving their finishing touches – and all aimed at being ready for the March 31 opening.

Well, as such things happen, on March 6, Melbourne was hit by a severe “supercell” storm which included some very sizable hailstones and a heavy deluge of rain. And in 20 minutes the damage was done – plants damaged, dented, and shredded, paths washed out, and some very disappointed gardeners returning to work the next week!

Many areas of the Gardens sustained substantial damage, including the Nursery glasshouses: the Cacti and Tropical Houses (with the latter being my main “office”) were the hardest hit – around 50% of the glass on each house was shattered. Our Herbarium and Library were flooded, as were the Visitor Centre and the Café in the same building.

The Volcano is part of a grand scale water entrapment and reticulation scheme designed to harvest, store and treat storm water from both within and around the Gardens.  


Medium image
| Large image (200K)

The Volcano plants also suffered – most of the small “lava flow’” detail plants (such as Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’ and Sempervivum sp.) were decimated, with the only glimmer of benefit being that most would reshoot and many new plants would grow from the leaves now strewn amongst the rock mulch.

The floating island aquatics fared reasonably, with only the larger foliage plants taking a real beating (Colocasia sp., Crinum pedunculatum). Overall, the island vegetation has been reasonably slow to establish, which I feel is mainly due to the fact that we didn’t have enough time and resources to top-dress the islands with a skim of topsoil, which would have given them extra incentive to move sideways across the island surfaces. That said, some of the species are doing particularly well, such as Marsilea, Ficcinia, Colocasia, and Lythrum.

After much scurrying and cleanup, the project was opened as scheduled, with all the usual ceremonies and speeches, and most of the horticultural staff went back to their usual areas of responsibility. 

< Entrance | Floating islands ^

Grand opening March 31, 2010

Sedum and Kalanchoe
in the Lava Flow

As you can see in the most recent photos (taken May 1), the Volcano plantings, like most gardens anywhere, have rebounded beautifully from their setback … and soon it will be but a distant memory, with only our photos and the occasional plant scar to show it ever happened at all.

And really, it is this resilience and rejuvenation after such events that keep us coming back for more, isn’t it … 

Hail damage scars

Lava flow

Recovering Alcantarea sp.

Hail damaged Sedum stahlii


< ^ Floating islands >

New life for an old feature: Guilfoyle’s Volcano
in WGI Online 5.1

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