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hyde park

Hyde Park, gazetted by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1810 is the oldest public park in Australia. it has been used as a cricket ground and even the site of the first official horse race meeting during October 1810. the first major plantings began in 1837. some of the morton bay figs near st james station are believed to have been planted in the late 1850’s. The Cook Pines, Hoop Pines and Queensland Kauri Pines were possibly planted during latter phases of development (possibly nineteenth to early twentieth century)

Between 1919-1926, the underground railway, including railway stations at St James and Museum, were constructed. This work had major implications for the original layouts and
existing significant trees. Many of the original Moreton Bay Figs were removed at this time and during the latter phase of development in the 1930’s for the Shrine of Remembrance

The park’s existing formal layouts and avenues were designed by Norman Weekes, winner of a design competition for the redevelopment of Hyde Park in 1926. The main avenue of Hill’s Weeping Figs were planted around 1930

the Aleppo pine became famous at gallipoli. It was the orginal “lone pine” after which the battle and later the cemetery at gallipoli were named. A solitary aleppo pine was the only survivor of a group of trees cut down by turkish soldiers to cover the trenches. the ensuing battle obliterated the tree, but scattered the cones. two australian soldiers, country boys from 3rd and 23rd battalions, retrieved cones from the tree and brought them home in their kit bags. from those few cones seedlings were later raised and transplanted. descendants of that aleppo pine may now be found at shrines and war memorials in many parts of australia

cook and phillip park

this specimen Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena draco) was been recently transplanted to this sculpture. Mature examples of this species are somewhat rare in the City of Sydney local government area). This specimen and the tall group of Canary Island Date Palms would likely date from the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century.

The trees can be harvested for their crimson red resin, called Dragon’s blood which was highly prized in the ancient world and is still used today. Around the Mediterranean basin it is used as a dye and as a medicine, Socotrans use it ornamentally as well as dying wool, gluing pottery, a breath freshener, lipstick, toothpaste as a stimulant and to induce abortions. Because of the belief that it is the blood of the dragon it is also used in ritual magic and alchemy.

Dragon’s blood was used as a source of varnish for 18th century Italian violin-makers. It is currently still used as varnish for violins and for photoengraving.

botanic gardens

Brazilian rainforest tree planted by prince alfred in 1868

Alfred remained second-in-line to the British throne from his birth in 1844 until 8 January 1864

mother queen victoria I 1837- 1901, brother was king edward 7th 1901- 1910

While still in command of the Galatea, the Duke of Edinburgh started from Plymouth on 24 January 1867 for his famous voyage round the world. He landed at Glenelg, South Australia, on 31 October.

Being the first member of the royal family to visit Australia, the Duke was received with great enthusiasm. During his stay of nearly five months he visited Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania.

On 12 March 1868, on his second visit to Sydney he was invited by Sir William Manning, President of the Sydney Sailors’ Home to picnic at the beachfront suburb of Clontarf to raise funds for the home. At the function he was wounded in the back by a revolver fired by Henry James O’Farrell. The Prince was shot just to the right of his spine, and was tended for the next two weeks by six nurses, trained by Florence Nightingale (founder of modern nursing)

Later intelligence states that the ‘man has declared himself to be an Irish man”

On the evening of 23 March 1868, the most influential people of Sydney voted for a memorial building to be erected, “to raise a permanent and substantial monument in testimony of the heartfelt gratitude of the community at the recovery of HRH”. This led to a public subscription which paid for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s construction.

wollemi pine

discovered in 1994 by david noble around 150km from sydney in a strand of less than 100 trees. species is 200 million years old, from a time before flowering plants when australia was still connected to antartica. the trees are described as “lazarus taxons” or living fossil. dinosours used to nibble this plants leaves, causing it be dubbed “the pinosaur” by indian newspapers. this plant is more closely related to the dandelion than a fern. member of the family of trees called “monkey puzzle trees” as the pines are located at the very top of the tree. the cone that this tree came from was picked by helicopter from a tree believed to be around 1000 years old

maiden hair tree

Ginkgos have not only existed on this planet for a long time, but also have a long life span, with some having an age of over 2,500 years. Six specimens have even been known to survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, 1 to 2 kilometers from ground zero; they still live there today.

Charles Darwin dubbed the ancient Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) a ‘living fossil’. In mythology it has been named the ‘tree of life’, as individual trees have an average lifespan of 1000 years. In the Buddhist religion the Ginkgo is considered sacred, so they are often found growing in and around temples throughout China and Japan.

Many parts of the tree, including the leaves and seeds, have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and more recently in the West as an energizer to improve mood, alertness, memory and attention span.

Swamp Mahoganies

Planted by order of Governor Macquarie in 1816, these three Swamp Mahoganies (Eucalyptus robusta) are the last survivors of Sydney’s earliest avenue of trees

queensland bottle tree

This distinctive tree with its bottle-shaped trunk is one of four Bottle Trees in the Garden. This tree features in a well-known children’s story, ‘Alexander’s Outing’ by Pamela Allen. It describes a day in the life of Alexander, a duckling, and his adventures in the Botanic Garden and surrounding area.

The Queensland Bottle Tree yields some water, and its seeds, stems and roots are edible.

It is not to be confused with the Boab Tree.

speakers corner

Speakers’ Corner in the Sydney Domain began in 1878, when Pastor Allen, a Baptist social reformer, took his platform there, after the Government closed Hyde Park (Sydney) as a venue for public speaking in 1874. The reason for this closure was the culmination of heated debating between Pastor Allen and the Irish Catholic community over the Irish Home Rule Bill. Catholics attacked the Pastor’s platform. A riot broke out and bricks were thrown at him. Not to be thwarted, Pastor Allen, and all the orators who had spoken in Hyde Park, moved north into the newly opened Domain. The orators began to speak under the shade of the large Morton Bay fig trees which grew in the park.

The Domain became a place where people could spend a Sunday listening to the philosophies of the day: Darwinism, socialism, single taxation, anarchism, temperance, phrenology, the Salvation Army, Christadelphians, or Calvinism. All possible points of view were represented and argued.

one past speaker Warren Buckland died earlier this year. his favourite subjects were ‘the oppression of the worker’, and, mysteriously, pelicans. For decades he was the self-declared president of the ‘Muggers, Bashers and Robbers Union‘ From another speaker, Steve Maxwell: It was a surprise to hear that Warren Buckland, soapbox speaker for the Domain, has passed away. He was not well. Come to think of it, he was never well even when he was well

farrer place

Farrer Place commemorates William Farrer (1845-1906), pioneer in the development of drought and disease resistant wheat strains. These hardy and drought tolerant palms from northern Mexico were used extensively throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, particularly during the Inter-War period (c.1915-1940). These palms are an important component species within the City’s public parkland and in private gardens. Other mixed exotic palm species, including the American Cotton Palm and Dwarf Date Palm, have been added to this group. While the eclectic mixed palm style was typical of many nineteenth century public planting schemes, the integrity of this simple, single species group has been compromised by these more recent additions.

This group of three Washington Palms (Washingtonia robusta), located in raised planter beds, are old specimens relating to the Department of Education building and were planted around 1915

macquarie place park

this park was once part of the gardens of the first government house

Macquarie Place, proclaimed by Governor Macquarie in 1810 is one of the earliest and most significant colonial urban spaces in Australia. Initially fenced and effectively a semi-private space in the tradition of the town squares of London, its evolution, from 1828, to a publicly accessible town square reflected increasing recognition of the role of public parks and spaces in colonial Australia.

Two of the London Planes (Platanus x acerifolia) were planted by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954 to mark the beginning of the Remembrance Driveway

This was a year after her coronation in 1953

Spanning 1953–54, the Queen and her husband embarked on a six-month around-the-world tour. She became the first reigning monarch of Australia and New Zealand to visit those nations. During the tour, crowds were immense; three-quarters of the population of Australia were estimated to have seen her

london plane trees.

the oldest london plane trees still living today were planted in berkley square, london in 1789. (a year after australia was settled)

the london plane tree seems to thrive in an urban environment. the physical explanation for this propensity lies partly in the way its bark flakes off in large scales, regularly throwing off impurities absorbed from the atmosphere. the trees vigour in the face of industrial smog is enhanced by its unusually large leaves which afford a greater than usual surface area for the nourishment of light and the reception of moisture. however its most endearing feature is the mottled colouring of the trunk- grey green and buff. its gives the tree a lightness of appearance, almost sunny, and a permanent look of youth and vitality.

by 1920 it was estimated that 60 per cent of trees in london were london plane trees. handels “largo” from his opera xerxes was written as an ode to the plane tree

in 481 bc the persian king xerxes gathered a progious army and advanced on greece. he paused at troy to sacrifice 1000 oxen, then again at the hellespont to review his army and navy, and yet again by the river meander, where he absurdly fell in love with an oriental plane tree. so enamoured did he become of the tree, covering it with gold, gems, necklaces, scarves and bracelets that he dallied far too long, to the concern of his generals and with predictable strategic consequences.

observatory park

This historic location, with its commanding hill-top position, was the site of Fort Phillip in the early years of colonial settlement. In later years, this Crown land became known as Flagstaff Hill and in 1875, Trustees were appointed to manage the establishment of a new park.

In 1884, Flagstaff Hill Reserve was dedicated as a public park for the purposes of public recreation and in 1887 the name was changed by proclamation to Observatory Park. The management of the park was taken over by the Municipal Council of Sydney in 1909. IIt is likely that the Observatory Park fig trees were planted soon after the park’s establishment in the late 1800’s. An historic photograph taken by Henry King c.1880-1890 shows these figs as immature specimens

at around the same time as the trees were planted the nearby Sydney Observatory gained international recognition. In the 1880’s Russell took some of the first astronomical photographs in the world, and involved Sydney in one of the greatest international astronomy projects ever undertaken, The astrographic catalogue. The catalogue was the first completed atlas of the sky. The Sydney section alone took 80 years and 53 volumes to complete.

st johns anglican church

This land was originally part of the 1796 grant of 400 acres to Reverend Richard Johnson, known as “The Glebe”.

The Eucalypt may be the last remnant of a former Turpentine– Ironbark Forest community in this ridge top location. This vegetation community would have been restricted to the shale- capped ridges overlying Hawkesbury sandstones. Turpentine – Ironbark Forest had an open forest structure up to 20-30 metres in height and originally extended on Wianamatta Shale soils from Glebe and Newtown westward to Auburn. This vegetation was cleared for timber production, agriculture and later urban development.

A photograph taken c.1875 appears to support the possibility of this Ironbark being a remnant from this original vegetation community, making it the oldest tree in the city of sydneys local government area outside the botanic gardens. It is thought to date back to 1850, 20 years before the church was built.

Pope Paul VI reserve

The use of this species has parallels with other public parks throughout the City of Sydney local govt area including the Domain, Centennial Parklands, Wentworth Park, Victoria Park and Prince Alfred Park. Moreton Bay Figs continue a lush, native evergreen/broadleaf theme and provide high ornamental amenity and biodiversity values in this urban foreshore setting. They are clearly evident in the 1943 aerial photos of the area and are somewhat larger than other similar figs seen in the adjoining parklands, which would indicate they were planted slightly earlier and may date to the 1870’s or 1880’s.

site earth vs sky

This environmental art installation, centred on Glebe Point’s magnificent Moreton Bay fig trees, explores the relationship between earth and sky through light and colour.

Lights bathe the trees in their own ever changing ‘opposite twilight’ for just over an hour each day after sunset. To achieve this, a world first custom-built colour-sensitive system continuously samples, then inverts, the colour of the evening sky, rendering the trees light-articulate.

The installation is sustainably powered by the City of Sydney’s first wind turbine. As the earth seeks to balance the sky through colour opposition, the turbine seeks to balance the electrical power used that makes this opposition possible.