Duncan, Peter M and I recently went a-hunting for the Wellington Mint Bush (Prostanthera galbraitheae) – here’s Duncan’s report.
The Wellington Mint Bush is classed as a vulnerable species and is endemic to this region of Gippsland. While some localised populations may have a good number of plants, there are only around 30 sites identified. Mostly they occur in Holey Plains State Park and at Dutson Downs.
Only limited knowledge of the ecology of this plant exists. In particular, more detail is needed on the germination, dispersal and the effects of disturbance. It is believed that the principal threat to the plant is browsing by wallabies, wombats, rabbits and deer, and an inappropriate fire regime.
Prostanthera galbraitheae was named after Jean Galbraith, one of the first people to recognise this species and to appreciate its vulnerability. Jean was a Gippslander all her life. She died in 1999, aged 92.
Here’s an extract from one of her obituaries…
Her involvement with the Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria spanned more than 60 years; she received the prestigious Australian Natural History Medallion in 1970. Her concern for conservation was part of her very being; from the 1930’s onwards her submissions to Government bodies and inquiries were models of commitment and scholarship, while her letters to decision makers were reasoned and reasonable. She wrote gardening articles over 65 years – from 1926-76 in the periodical The Australian Garden Lover under the penname of Correa, and from 1985-92 in The Age. Her beloved garden, Dunedin, immortalised in Garden In A Valley, (1939), was a place of pilgrimage for many.
Jean Galbraith had limited formal education and as a child was often too ill to go to school. Her principal botanical resource was the bush around her home in Tyers, where she lived all her life. She left school at 14 and began her odyssey with nature.
At age 16 she met H.B. Williamson at a wildflower show in Melbourne. Williamson was a noted botanist and he introduced the young Jean to Von Mueller’s writings, and the German language. Their friendship and studies lasted more than ten years.
For more than 50 years, Jean contributed articles to the 'Victorian Naturalist' and 'Garden Lover'. She wrote numerous books herself, many of them still held in high esteem in botanical circles.
Jean Galbraith has left a rich heritage. One small part of that heritage, the Wellington Mint Bush, will constantly remind me of this wonderful lady.