Book Review: EVERGREEN – the botanical life of a plant punk by Tim Entwisle

EVERGREEN – the botanical life of a plant punk by Tim Entwisle, Thames & Hudson, Melbourne, 2022 (paperback, rrp $39.99).

Many readers will know of Tim Entwisle as the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne; others may know of him as a media commentator and talking head, or even as a blogger on plants.

But how many know of his background in the thrash and grunge of heavy metal music? He is an afficionado in an area where many would flounder to even bear listening to the ‘music’, let alone appreciate it. My music world included Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, The Holding Company and extends to Domenico de Clario, Nicholas Lens and Malcolm McLaren but it was a generational thing. Tim deliberately sought to push his boundaries to include music that seemed far beyond the quiet, respectable world of botany.

His many layered book is complex and deeply fascinating. He reveals much about himself through introspection and contemplation, and he links it to his work as a scientist, thinker, planner and manager of people. Tim Entwisle may be a phycologist of world renown and have a record as a great leader and manager in several very highly regarded botanic gardens, but he shines as a great humanitarian. He positively radiates his love of people, of all people from the most generous of philanthropists and important of patrons down to a small child squatting in the street pinging plantain heads at passers-by.

I would not wish to spoil your appreciation of Tim’s writing by revealing more. He is a great communicator, and it is best, and duly respectful, to let him speak for himself. Who knows, his enthusiasm for music may even persuade readers to take up listening to The Drones, Machine Gun Fellatio, Bad Seeds or Brian Jonestown Massacre?

If not, I am confident readers will enjoy the saga of the Fig Tree Massacre. Clashes with Kerry Packer and Alan Jones AO and the numerous incidents throughout an amazing life as an international expert of fresh-water red slimes. Despite any misgivings rest assured this book is very well written, thoroughly engaging and utterly brilliant.

Trevor Nottle

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