Earlier this week I was at Vaucluse House with the Gardens Team, overseeing and helping out with the important work they have been doing on the ecological restoration and recovery of the Olola Avenue boundary bushland. This thin sliver of urban bushland with remnant native plant species, provides an important visual barrier between suburbia and the Vaucluse House estate.
Deep in the basement of one of the terraces at Susannah Place in The Rocks grows a small patch of vibrant green native Maiden Hair Fern. The combination of good natural light and damp conditions free from droughts has made this basement into its own little glasshouse fernery.
One of the most recognisable plants growing at Sydney Living Museums today is bamboo. This colourful plant has a long history in colonial gardens
The Queen of the Night is an epiphytic spineless cactus that originates from the rainforests of Central America. It is considered to be epiphytic (a non-parasitic plant that use other plants as support while getting nutrients from surrounding air) as they grow in the treetops in their natural environment.
Just as the interiors of Meroogal were assembled over a century, so too its living collection – the garden - reflects the four generations of women who called the Nowra house home.
On a crisp winter’s morning, in the gravel driveway between The Mint and the North Range of the Hyde Park Barracks, SLM Horticulturists Steve Halliday, Helder Esteves and Craig Field appear and disappear behind a shape shifting white cloud. A black and yellow sign warns me there is “Spraying in Progress”, and I wonder for a moment why no one is wearing a mask, or even gloves. But the dangerous looking mist enveloping these men is not what it seems.
At Sydney Living Museums our gardens are living links with the past. This is especially true of the venerable Chinese Elm Tree at Elizabeth Farm.
This is my third winter working on the gardens of Vaucluse House. Each year this amazing tree catches me by surprise. Of course I notice the velvety buds developing on its bare angular stems, but I expect the flowers to come a bit later like they do with other magnolias. Instead the flowers start to appear not long after the winter solstice, when we humans barely perceive the days lengthening.
Look at any classical building today, anywhere in the world and chances are you will find an acanthus leaf lurking somewhere: either on the capital of a Corinthian column, on friezes and borders of a Greek ruin, in countless William Morris designs, on the famous Warwick vase (which is a model for many sporting trophies notably the Australian Open), or indeed as a beautiful plant in many gardens. It’s everywhere!
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In this Plant your history blog, Sydney Living Museums’ gardening staff and curators share their knowledge and observations about the gardens at SLM. From basic plant information, gardening techniques and tips, through historic versus contemporary understanding of gardens, to what’s currently in bloom at our sites, they have plenty of insights for you.