Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Big flowering aloes a winter highlight in the Royal Botanic Garden

by Michael Dent, Aloe-Aloe

Many of the aloe-aloes donated by Aloe-Aloe will be a great winter attraction to visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden this year. These cultivars provide a kaleidoscope of colour for much of the year but are at their best now and over the next few months. Their brightly coloured torch-like flowers are able to be seen towering above their statuesque leaf form.

In their native Africa, aloes are seen as the true aristocrats of African bush but sadly many aloes are now facing extinction in their native lands because they’re being taken from the wild.

To many Australians the word 'aloe' is associated with the medicinal plant 'vera' commonly used commercially for cosmetic purposes. However, there are more than 600 different species of aloes all from Africa with some, (‘vera’ being one of them), not being very good flowerers and others not being suitable for the Sydney climate. It is for this reason that a new generation of hybrid aloes or 'aloe-aloes' were recently introduced into Australia specifically for spectacular flowering and adaptability to Australian gardens. Birds just love aloe flowers, not only honey eaters but other birds which are attracted by insects also feeding off nectar from the flowers.

Whilst a small proportion of aloes come from desert regions in Africa, most are in fact from areas which receive high rainfall (including tropical areas) but their legacy is that they have adapted to survive climate change by storing water in their leaves and therefore survive long periods of drought that we in Australia also regularly experience. It is for this reason that aloe-aloes are now being used across Australia as tough low maintenance garden plants, providing us with reliable colour for much of the year in times of rain, drought, heat and cold. 
The company Aloe-Aloe is a significant sponsor of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. Aloe-Aloe owner Michael Dent donated 29 different cultivars of aloe veras (introduced to Australia only 4 years ago) to the Royal Botanic Garden - which have been growing predominantly in the Upper Gardens, cared for by Dawson Ougham, Senior Horticulturist Palace Garden.