Southern Hemisphere Garden
Did you know?
- The Australia section of the Southern Hemisphere Garden contains the tree species Banksia integrifolia subsp. monticola. This is one of four Banksia species introduced to the UK in 1770 from Australia by Kew’s first unofficial director, Sir Joseph Banks. The trees at Wakehurst Place were grown from seed collected by staff in Australia. The species, which has bottle-brush-like blooms, does not normally flower outside in the UK but did so for the first time in 2004.
- The gazebo that stands in the Southern Hemisphere Garden is a memorial to Peter Bowring (1913–1990). The framework is planted alternately with laburnum and wisteria, which flower in yellow and mauve, the Bowring horse-racing colours.
The collection was started by Gerald Loder, who purchased Wakehurst in 1933 and spent 33 years developing the Gardens.
Like many keen horticulturalists of the time, Loder was fascinated as to how related plants could exist on landmasses in the Southern Hemisphere that were separated by vast oceans. For example, members of the Proteaceae family thrived on all four Southern Hemisphere landmasses but never grew wild on Northern Hemisphere soil.
The mystery was solved in the early 20th century by the Theory of Continental Drift; the plants had evolved some 120 million years ago when the southern continents were a single landmass known as Gondwanaland. With the movement of tectonic plates, the landmasses gradually moved apart until reaching their current locations.
Things to look out for
Trees of interest include several mature eucalyptus (including the cider gum Eucalyptus gunnii and the Tasmanian Snow Gum E. coccifera). The garden also contains hebes, cortaderia grasses, waratah (Telopea truncata), red-hot pokers (Kniphofia), nerines and a rare daisy bush (Olearia lacunosa). Wakehurst staff are gradually realigning the Southern Hemisphere Garden, so plantings are divided into their distinct geographic origins of New Zealand, Tasmania, Australia, South America and South Africa.