We are lucky enough to be doing a home swap in Australia this Christmas and spent the last couple of days in Sydney Botanic Garden. It's in a wonderful location, bordered by water on two sides and overlooking the Opera House. So although temperatures reached 38F in the city yesterday and today (a 'heatwave' for this time of year), the gardens were constantly fanned by cooling sea breezes.
The gardens are 200 years old this year and are home to many wonderful specimen trees. Oh if only we had the climate, location, space and time to grow them like this at home!
Here are five:
A stately and vast Ficus obliqua or 'Strangler tree', often used as a 'shade tree' in public gardens. Did you know figs have what's called 'an obligate mutualism' with fig wasps? Only the fig wasp can pollinate figs and they can only reproduce in fig flowers, which are an inverted inflorescence within the berries.
A lovely, flowering Norfolk Island hibiscus which has evolved to be highly tolerant of salt spray. Though very 'hibiscussy', the tree is actually a Lagunaria patersonii.
Some decidedly elegant, pencil thin Palms - I am not sure which: Ceroxylon, Wax palm?
A gorgeous Banksia serrata. I know one or two people who try to grow Banksia in London, but they really need a drier, Mediterranean-type climate.
And, finally, I know not what. Saw quite a few of these striking, super-tall trees in the garden. Great if someone can advise.
Did you know almost all trees in Australia are evergreen? Very few are deciduous. The reason apparently, is that they evolved in isolation from other trees of the world and good growing conditions can occur at any time of year. So being evergreen, they are better able to spring into growth when conditions are most favourable, after heavy rainfalls for example.