Horticultural Societies

Medal presented by the Gardeners and Amateurs Horticultural Society, Hobart Town, in 1850 (ALMFA, SLT)

Horticultural Societies established in Tasmania were among the earliest in Australia. Ronald Gunn, botanist and private secretary to Lt-Governor Sir John Franklin, was instrumental in the establishment of both the Launceston Horticultural Society (1838) and the Hobart Horticultural Society (1839), both of which still flourish. Horticultural societies in Tasmania had a chequered history in part due to the tension often existing between 'professional' and 'amateur' gardeners. Through shows, exhibitions and plant exchanges the societies encouraged the cultivation of useful and ornamental plants of both native and exotic species. General and specialist horticultural societies have also established gardens and plant collections, notably the Launceston Horticultural Society (botanic garden 1841, now City Park), the Rose Society of Tasmania (Queens Domain Hobart, 1961), and the Rhododendron Society (Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden near Burnie, 1981).

Further reading: R Aitken & M Looker (eds), The Oxford companion to Australian gardens, Melbourne, 2002.

Lindy Scripps