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!
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.
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 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,