Couple make heart-warming gift to the Royal Botanic Gardens

Couple make heart-warming gift to the Royal Botanic Gardens
Brendan Rees

An 87-year-old historian who spent his childhood growing up in the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) has joined his partner in gifting a redeveloped gate to the iconic destination.

Formerly called Gate C, the new $350,000 artisan Tecoma Gate is surrounded by new plantings, as well as new paving including a large mosaic tile by artist David Wong featuring arid plants and succulents inspired by historical sketches.

Frank Stratten, who has a shared love of the gardens with his partner Adrian Turley, were determined to give back to a place that has given them so much.

So, the pair decided to donate the new gate in July, which was marked by a ribbon cutting ceremony with RBGV director Tim Entwisle. The gate was re-designed by the gardens’ long-serving landscape architect Andrew Laidlaw. 

“We are passionate about the gardens, and they have never looked so beautiful,” they said. “We raised the possibility of upgrading the gate and would love to see the new gate while we are still alive.”

Mr Stratten, who still lives in his childhood home adjacent to the gardens, which was built by his parents in 1942, was a former director of the Performing Arts Museum at Arts Centre Melbourne (1984-93) and is a historian of the performing arts sector.

For his contributions, Mr Stratten was presented with a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1999 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2017.

He also presented ABC Radio’s Nostalgia Show for 15 years and has published eight books on Australian theatre history.

Speaking of his earliest memories of the gardens, Mr Stratten said he remembered a time when horses would pull mowers and gardens staff ringing a bell 10 minutes before closing time. •


Caption: Frank Stratten, right, with his partner Adrian Turley, and RBGV director Tim Entwisle (centre). Photo: RBGV.

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