Gill Miller, head gardener at the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, gave a fascinating presentation on the significant trees of the gardens at the February general meeting.
The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens feature an outstanding collection of mature trees, including many conifers, elms and oaks. Many of the trees are characteristic of late nineteenth century gardens and are classified on the National Trust’s Register of Significant Trees. An English Oak planted in 1863 is one of the oldest commemorative plantings in Victoria.
In 2014 a survey of the trees in the gardens was undertaken. Since then annual reviews have been conducted and recommendations on how to manage the health of significant trees have been made. Staff have been implementing these over the past few years, including canopy reduction, branch removal and in some cases, the removal of trees, together with the planting of new trees.
Gill spoke of the importance of mature trees in providing habitat for insects, birds and animals, all of which abound in the gardens. They also provide welcome shade, wonderful colour and good mulch.
Some of the most significant trees in the gardens include:
Jersey Elm (Ulmus minor ‘Sarniensis’) – One of only two known examples in Victoria.
Large-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos) – One of three known mature trees in Victoria.
English Oak (Quercus robur) – The oldest known planted tree in the gardens.
Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides) – The largest known example in Victoria.
Stone pine (Pinus pinea) – Multiple specimens of these significant trees can be found around the gardens and provide habitat for the Powerful Owl.
Weeping Elm (Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii) – A group of elms were planted in the 1870s.
Due to the rarity of this species in cultivation, an old, lop-sided Mimosa bush (Acacia farnesiana), located on the south east boundary of the gardens, is of State significance.
Inspired by Gill’s talk, we spent a beautiful autumn morning in the gardens looking at many wonderful trees and taking lots of photos. How privileged we feel to live in a town with such special gardens. Thanks to those who originally planted these significant trees and to those such as Gill and her team who continue to look after them for future generations.
Judy and Philip Hopley