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Dendrobium speciosum naturalised on amazing artificial rock walls here at Melbourne Museum..

Hi there, my name is Brendan Fleming,

I am a nurseryman working currently at Melbourne Museum.

We have a garden here at the Museum called ‘Milarri Garden’. Milarri is a local Aboriginal word meaning ‘outside’. This garden displays plants used by Indigenous peoples, whether for food, medicine, making tools, decoration, hut-building, etc.  Because Melbourne Museum is part of Museums Victoria the idea is that the plants grown in Milarri Garden need to be found naturally occurring in Victoria.


Thelychiton speciosum, previously Dendrobium speciosum, are found all down the east coast of Australia, and Indigenous people used them for food. The starchy stems are beaten to break up the fibre and then roasted on hot coals.


We have about 40-odd thelychitons throughout the Garden here at the museum, on rocks, in crevices & attached to tree-trunks. All of the plants were purchased from Australian Orchid Nursery in Tyabb, Victoria, in 2013. Some were purchased in the January, and then another purchase in May of the same year. Many of the orchids were placed in positions in the full sun, others in various states of partial sunlight. The second summer (2014) following being introduced to the Garden we had a diabolically-hot summer, with one week in January that had 4 consecutive days of above 40’c! …..these orchids did not skip a beat, and did not even burn, maybe just a slight brown mark along a margin. It was unbelievable. I could not have imagined how robust this species is. I had purchased a high-calcium Orchid fertilizer from Wayne Turville’s nursery and began liquid-feeding not long after the initial planting. Otherwise they get no special treatment.


I have had good flowers on various plants each season. Some seasons have been better than others. But this year is proving spectacular. And I suppose another year of establishment has helped too. I have been astonished by how many spikes have emerged on just about every plant. Everyone is commenting on the show of flowers. Visitors and staff alike.


I cannot be more impressed with the orchids, and the help & advice from Wayne. Thanks again to Wayne Turville & his staff at Australian Orchid Nursery down on the Mornington Peneinsula at Tyabb.


Just 2 weeks ago, Jane Edmanson from ABC TV’s ‘Gardening Australia’ visited the Garden and filmed a segment for an upcoming episode of the weekly Gardening television program.


Best wishes



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  • Wayne Turville on

    Remember boys and girls, these are fake concrete rocks boulders and cliffs.
    Made from concrete coated chicken wire.
    Now there’s a thought for a bare bland area.

  • June Anderson on

    What great photos and description Brendan.

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