Monthly Archives: July 2013

National Arboretum, Canberra

Recently I had the pleasure of taking a very brisk winter walk through the newly opened National Arboretum in Canberra.

Arboretum visitor centre (

Arboretum visitor centre (

The Arboretum is a collection of exotic and native endangered trees from around the world, planted in zones across the very large site.

Most trees have been planted in the last ten years, however there is a fragrant forest of Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara), the bulk of which was planted between 1917 and 1930. The highlight of the landscape is the Cork oaks (Quercus suber), a legacy of Walter Burley-Griffin and his under-acknowledged wife Marion Griffin.

The Cork oak forest

The Cork oak forest

A quiet stroll through the Cork oak forest is a must-do: you may spot a fox. The most interesting aspect is the blackened bases of the cork trees which have been periodically harvested over the years. You may also notice the acorns on the floor of this forest.

As you approach the visitor centre, it’s standing room only in the acorn-inspired playground, which may explain why at 10am on a Sunday the overflow parking facilities are already in use.

Combine it with a visit to the National Archives for the story of the selection of the Canberra site and city design. (Closes 8 September 2013.) Perhaps a post on this will follow.

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Historic Gardens of New England at Tusculum

Last Tuesday I attended the launch of the exhibition Historic Gardens of New England at the Australian Institute of Architects building, Tusculum  (3 Manning Street, Potts Point).

Bill Oates and Graham Wilson provided a very interesting overview of the archival material collected by the University of New England. Some spectacular photographs give great insight into the cultural aspects of gardens in the region. The speakers discussed the importance of plant selection for climate.

A few gardens of stately homes included an interesting design element – a heart shaped carriage drive lawn – which was quite fashionable for the time, and still charming today.

The Australian Garden History Society co-ordinated the event and the exhibition will be on display for the month of July 2013 at Tusculum house. Highly recommended.