Florilegium: plant stories from Sydney Living Museums' gardens

Native plants and exotic species from abroad have shaped Sydney’s gardens from the earliest days of the colony. The tales of their discovery, collection and exchange, and the horticultural trends that drove their popularity, unearth fascinating insights into some of Sydney’s most significant gardens and personalities.

From the lost inner-city garden of NSW Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay at Elizabeth Bay and the extensive grounds of William Charles Wentworth’s Vaucluse harbourside villa, to the mid-century plantings surrounding Rose Seidler’s modernist home and the Bunya-dotted rural setting of Rouse Hill House & Farm, SLM’s gardens reveal captivating stories spanning more than 200 years.

Select a plant story below to discover the living history of SLM’s gardens.


More about our gardens

Botanical watercolour illustration of Dichorisandra thyrsiflora (Blue ginger) created by Beverly Allen, 2008

Blue ginger

Dichorisandra thyrsiflora

Botanical watercolour illustration of Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya pine) created by Dorothee Nijgh de Sampayo Garrido, 2012

Bunya pine

Araucaria bidwillii

Botanical watercolour illustration of Stenocarpus sinuatus (Firewheel tree) created by Angela Lober, 2008

Firewheel tree

Stenocarpus sinuatus

Watercolour botanical illustration showing Eucalyptus tereticornis (Forest red gum) created by Cheryl Hodges, 2015

Forest red gum

Eucalyptus tereticornis

Botanical watercolour illustration of Araucaria cunninghamii (Hoop pine) created by Marta Salamon, 2013.

Hoop pine

Araucaria cunninghamii

Watercolour botanical illustration of Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island pine) created by Angela Lober, 2015.

Norfolk Island pine

Araucuria heterophylla

Botanical watercolour illustration of Ficus rubiginosa (Port Jackson fig) created by Deb Chirnside, 2014

Port Jackson fig

Ficus rubiginosa

Watercolour botanical illustration of Opuntia ficus-indica (Prickly pear) created by Elisabeth Dowle, 2015

Prickly pear

Opuntia ficus-indica

Botanical watercolour illustration of Agathis robusta (Queensland kauri pine) created by Dotothee Nijgh de Sampayo Garrido, 2014.

Queensland kauri pine

Agathis robusta

Watercolour botanical illustration of Dendrobium speciosum (Rock lily) created by Elaine Musgrave, 2015.

Rock lily

Dendrobium speciosum

Watercolour botanical illustration of Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) created by Jenny Phillips, 2015

Southern magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora


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About the Author

Photograph of a person peeling corn
Amelia Lindsay
Former Assistant Curator
Amelia Lindsay was an assistant curator with SLM's Curatorial & Exhibitions team. Growing up just moments away from historical...

About the Author

Photograph of Helen Curran, assistant curator at Sydney Living Museums
Helen Curran
Former Assistant Curator
Helen was Sydney Living Museums’ dedicated gardens...

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