Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

As promised, I’m following up my recent post on our visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne.

This time it’s a quick look at the trees as I (almost literally) jog past to catch up with the rest of my family. Apologies for some of the photos looking a little smeary…apart from zipping past at hight speed I think I got some sunscreen on the camera lens!

The Separation Tree (River Red Gum)

Let’s start of with the ‘Separation Tree’ a majestic old River Red Gum (eucalyptus camaldulensis) that was already there when the gardens were established in 1846. The tree is intertwined with colonial history as ceremonies to commemorate the separation of Victoria from the colony of New South Wales were held by it in 1850. The added historical point I like is that the tree actually pre-dates European settlement. Sadly the tree was badly damaged in 2010 by apparent vandalism and the garden’s staff are working to repair the damage and save the tree. As this page from the CSIRO describes,  in the right conditions River Red Gums are long-lived trees and a good 700 years is not unheard of.

Corymbia Ficifolia (Red Flowering Gum) 'Summertime'

Above is a Corymbia, just for the sheer exuberant joy of their flowers at this time of year. The bees and the birds just love them! We used to have quite a few of them planted as streets trees in our area, but for some reason they got the chop.

Moreton Bay Fig

Moreton Bay Figs (ficus macrophylla) are the classic tree of an Eastern Australian Botanic garden to me. They are more famously associated with the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden, but I remember being fascinated by them as a child when I first visited the Melbourne garden. After all, those big buttresses and crevasses hidden beneath a wide leafy canopy have to be the domain of fairies don’t they?

I’m sorry I haven’t got a photo of the canopy of one of these fabulous trees. But you do need to have at your disposal a handy botanic garden or large park like garden if you want to plant one. They can grow up to 35 meters wide as well as high (eventually) and their roots can be very damaging. Some more information from the Australian Native Plants Society can be found here.

Above and below are poor photos of a very pretty tree, the Norfolk island Hibiscus (Lagunaria patersonii). While it’s from tropical Queensland (and as the name suggests, Norfolk Island) this tree is clearly quite at home in temperate Melbourne. It is a lovely largish tree and it did cross my mind to grow it (I’m going to have to replace a tree over winter) but the Australian Native Plants Society’s website also informed me that its seed capsules contain an irritant fibre, so perhaps some more research first.

This next one is planted in the lovely Children’s Garden within the Botanic Gardens. It is a Queensland Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris). Apart from having a very attractive form, it has many traditional uses and you can find out more about it here.

Last of all below (and to my own surprise) is the only photo of an exotic that I’ve chosen to include. Being a Botanic garden (particularly one established in Victorian times) there are plenty of exotic specimens in the garden, but it seems it was the locals that caught my eye on the day.  This is a Cockscomb Coral-tree (Erythrina crista-galli) from South America and I just love that bark. What texture!

There’s one more post from the visit to come, but there is so much going on in the Gippy Garden at the moment (plants…and pests…in full swing) that I might see what is news there before posting part three of this series.

Happy Gardening to you all,


Comments on: "Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens – Part II" (8)

  1. Oh the fabulous Queensland Bottle Tree! It’s not often I see a photo of it in a blog or indeed in its state of origin. Loved the bark of that Coral Tree too. The Red Flowering Gum is just spectacular. Great choices to highlight in your post.

    • Hello Bernie 🙂 I don’t know if you’ve had a chance tos eeit on one of your visits but they have actually planted quite a few Queensland Bottle Trees in the Children’s Garden and the effect is quite lovely.

  2. Heidi: Enjoyed that visit, looks like a fabulous place. Don’t worry about part three for a while save it until late February or early March when we are in the worst part of our winter it will brighten our day and help get rid of the winter blues. Looking forward to some photos of your garden.

    Have a great afternoon,

  3. Hello John 🙂 No worries, will have a post from the garden soon. I hope your winter doesn’t turn out to be to long and cold!

  4. dear Heidi, lovely post, we are so lucky to have the RBG here, the children’s garden is so special and all the trees you photographed. I recently discovered Geelong bot garden – that’s also worth visiting. cheers, catmint

    • Hello Sue 🙂 I must make it to Geelong to have a little look one day then!
      I do love the Children’s garden at the RBG and clearly all the children who were visiting on the day did too!

  5. Hi Heidi,

    The Cockscomb Coral Tree is a definite stand out – I once heard a group of school kids call it “the Harry Potter tree” because it’s wild branches look a bit like the good ol’ Whomping Willow 🙂

    RBG Marketing team

  6. Hello Katie and thanks for stopping by 🙂 Now that you mention it, that Cockscomb Coral is very reminiscent of the Whomping Willow! Luckily your staff there seem to be growing a far more sedate version 😀

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