I’m a city girl, but I’ve always loved walking and being outdoors. I count myself lucky to have lived near gardens and parks in big cities, whether it’s Tokyo, Manhattan, or Buenos Aires. Here in Sydney I am doubly blessed to have the harbor as well as the Royal Botanic Gardens within a quick stroll away from my apartment. Last week I took a guided tour of the gardens where I learned about some of the aboriginal plants, a brief history of Australia as it relates to plantation/botany, and how introduced species have changed (for better and/or worse) the landscape of this country.
Our guide talked to us about various things during the 1.5 hour tour, including the relationship between bees and figs, and about Banksia shrubs. I first saw Banksias during the Overland Track in Tasmania where J and M told me about the classic Australian children’s book called Snugglepot and Cuddlepie; the villains in the book are called “Banksia Men.”
Prickly Pear Cactus was an introduced plant that thrived under perfect climate conditions in Australia. What no one anticipated was how quickly it spread to infest some 60 million acres of land. The only effective solution to the problem came in the form of insects, a type of caterpillar that ate up these cacti like an army of locusts. It is considered the most successful biological control measure ever taken in history. Meanwhile in Mexico you’d be eating all kinds of delicious dishes made with these nopales…
Patricia showed us several different types of Gum Trees. She told us they were the tallest flowering trees in the world but while pointing at me (the only American in the tour group) admitted that American Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world.
Wollemi Pine (the tall skinny tree in the photo below) was thought to be extinct until it was discovered in 1994. It is one of the oldest and rarest trees in the world, and only about 100 Wollemi Pines are believed to exist.
At the end of the tour we talked about rare plants/trees and seed banks around the world. She pointed out a tree from Brazil that is growing here now, from which they will harvest seeds and send over to Brazil.
I had a wonderful time at the gardens and the time seemed to just fly by. I found it quite informative and the enthusiasm of our guide made me smile more than once. It was definitely worth a few mosquito bites I endured.
I walked around a bit longer before making my way home and was absolutely stunned at the sight of these lotus plants and their flowers. They were the biggest and the tallest I’ve ever seen!
A fantastic way to walk back to my apartment from the botanic gardens- Farm Cove to Potts Point via Woolloomooloo Bay.
With such beautiful green spaces AND the harbor so close, I can really understand why Sydneysiders love their city. Who wouldn’t?
Royal Botanic Gardens: www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au