For city-slickers who find themselves out of the ‘Burbs and driving through rural ‘n’ regional Australia, here is something to look out for. You might wonder why there are the occasional very broad-canopied or tall ‘cultural landmark plantings’*and, for that matter, residential-looking shrubs seemingly out of place, adrift in the countryside.
(*often exotic species or at least species not endemic to that area).
The answer is often that such trees (like Bunya Pines, Hoop Pines and Pepper or Fig Trees) and shrubs (like hedges of Opuntia – Prickly Pear), were driveway, boundary, garden or house markers of former farms, homesteads and mansions – the buildings of which may be long gone. Just occasionally, a small grouping of the trees mentioned above might be a remnant of an old street avenue planting, possibly on a road no longer in use. More often than not though, such plantings demarcated property entries or acted as landmarks in homeyards.
Of course, you don’t only see such landmark plantings in the country. You can appreciate the role of ‘locational’ trees (and shrubs) all over the city as well. Next time you’re on a ferry in Sydney, you’ll notice many stately trees sticking up above the rooflines of houses and apartments. A lot of these would have been (or remain) garden plantings of grand residential properties or institutional buildings, many of which would have stood on large parcels of land, prior to subdivisions in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
In Sydney, if you want to place stately trees in their original context, have a look at Fairfax House (Ginahgulla House) in Bellevue Hill, Vaucluse House in Vaucluse, Hambledon Cottage in Parramatta or Bella Vista Farm in the city’s north-west.