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In focus: Grady Brand, Senior Curator at Kings Park and Botanic Garden

Grady Brand_low resGrady Brand_low res

We spoke to Grady Brand who is the Senior Curator of Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth and who was sent to Cornwall in the UK to provide assistance on the significant Eden Project.

"The Eden display offers strong educational messages about the global significance of the biodiversity of WA’s South West and the critical need for its ongoing conservation."

Grady Brand, Senior Curator of Kings Park and Botanic Garden

Describe your involvement at the Eden Project?

My initial involvement was to help selecting plants that, through my experience in growing Western Australian plants in Perth, would be most likely to thrive in the type of environment at the Eden Project. We took into account the different growing conditions, including less sunlight and shorter daylight hours. I also provided advice on where Eden would be able to source WA plants from, how to grow them, irrigation and soil requirements, and analysed soil test results to ensure the plants had the most appropriate conditions from the outset.

I then made the trip to Cornwall for the planting, and was largely responsible for the planting layout for each of the WA flora garden beds.

What are your favourite plants in the garden?

I think the most iconic plant is the Grass Tree, as it has such a unique form and is so representative of the Australian landscape. I can’t resist also mentioning Kangaroo Paws, and specifically the Anigozanthos ‘Kings Park Federation Flame’. The south west of WA is the only place on the planet you will see this plant in the wild, and this particular cultivar, selected by the Kings Park team, is one of the most vibrant colour forms available with its bright orange-red flowers.

Has this project brought about any horticultural firsts for the UK? 

This is the first time a significant, permanent display of WA flora of this kind has been established in the UK.  Kings Park has presented two Gold Medal-winning displays at the Chelsea Flower Show in the past, but this is the first permanent collection that has been established to my knowledge.

The Eden display also offers strong educational messages about the global significance of the biodiversity of WA’s South West and the critical need for its ongoing conservation.

How is the Western Australian Aboriginal community incorporated in the garden?

The Nyoongar people are traditional custodians of much of the south west of Western Australia. Original artwork included in the Eden Project garden has been contributed by Nyoongar statesman, Dr Richard Walley.  The artwork tells stories of the traditional six seasons of Nyoongar culture, their strong connections to country and ancient knowledge of native flora, fauna and environment.

Apart from the must-see Western Australian garden, what’s the highlight at the Eden Project?

The giant domes that provide tropical and  Mediterranean type climates in which plants from those regions can flourish are Eden’s greatest highlights, along with the educational messages related to human reliance on plants and sustainable living for their past, present and future survival.

Do you have any news or events in Kings Park planned for the coming months which would be of interest to UK visitors?

Probably the most significant event in Kings Park and Botanic Garden is the annual Kings Park Festival that runs for the full month of September. During the festival, the wildflower displays in the gardens at Kings Park are quite spectacular and well worth a visit, as well as many other displays and free activities that are held through the month.

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