Nature play for grown-ups

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria's Branch Out program a natural antidote for seniors


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SNEAK PEEK: Join the National Herbarium of Victoria's Pina Milne for the Hidden Herbarium event, part of the Branch Out program for over-60s.

SNEAK PEEK: Join the National Herbarium of Victoria's Pina Milne for the Hidden Herbarium event, part of the Branch Out program for over-60s.

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Talking trees and paper sculptures: how nature and art is boosting seniors' health and wellbeing.

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WHEN it comes to boosting your health and wellbeing, there's nothing like going for a walk and soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of nature.

And now a new initiative from Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria aims to welcome more seniors into Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens with a series of special events and activities.

From nature-inspired paper sculptures to talking trees, the Reach Out program includes health and wellbeing experiences, sensory workshops, indigenous teachings and garden tours aimed at enhancing the health and wellbeing of older people. It includes special access to some of the country's finest horticulturalists and plant researchers.

Aimed exclusively at people aged 60 and over, the program was initially developed as a partnership with aged care provider Regis Aged Care and is now open to the general public with free and low-cost activities.

BRANCH MANAGER: Take a guided walk among the trees in Melbourne Gardens with manager of arboriculture Will Jones for the Talking Trees event.

BRANCH MANAGER: Take a guided walk among the trees in Melbourne Gardens with manager of arboriculture Will Jones for the Talking Trees event.

In July audiences can enjoy the artistry of internationally-acclaimed paper sculpture artist Ray Besserdin with his new exhibition Paper Landscapes.

Transforming paper - made with cotton, hemp and mulberry - into three-dimensional sculpted pieces, Ray's work explores his fascination with nature.

In a career spanning 30 years and 24 awards, his artworks are prized worldwide. The Path to Gondwana, created for this exhibition, recently won a Gold Medal for Creativity from Mondial Art Acadamie, France.

Ray, who was directly inspired by the Gardens, will also give a public talk revealing some of the methods he used to create his extraordinary artworks.

Also in July, the Gardens' manager of arboriculture Will Jones will lead a walk through the Melbourne Gardens to explore the seasonal changes taking place among the trees during the colder months.

Visitors can warm up after the Talking Trees walk with a botanical-inspired tea.

Next month participants can venture inside the National Herbarium of Victoria with the manager of collections, Pina Milne.

ARTISTS' TALK: Artist Ray Besserdin, who explored his fascination with nature for his exhibition Paper Landscapes, will give a talk at Cranbourne Gardens.

ARTISTS' TALK: Artist Ray Besserdin, who explored his fascination with nature for his exhibition Paper Landscapes, will give a talk at Cranbourne Gardens.

Founded in 1853 by Ferdinand von Mueller - Victoria's first government botanist - the herbarium is the state's oldest scientifc institution and home to the precious State Botanical Collection.

In September, Branch Out participants can try Forest Therapy - a wellbeing practice that immerses your senses in nature. The method is based on the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or "forest bathing" and is a guided experience set among the majestic trees of Melbourne Gardens.

  • Paper Landscapes: Exhibition and Talk at Cranbourne Gardens, July 23, 11am, free, 5990-2200; Talking Trees at Melbourne Gardens, July 30, 11am, free, 9252-2429.
  • www.rgb.vic.gov.au
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