Port Jackson fig
A giant Port Jackson fig standing at the eastern corner of Vaucluse House is likely to date from the mid-1850s. Together with an older Moreton Bay fig, planted on the western side, it framed the pale sandstone Gothic Revival house with dark evergreen foliage.
This planting style was favoured by the colony’s first landscape gardener of note, Thomas Shepherd, for the marine villas that began to adorn Port Jackson’s bays from the 1830s. For Shepherd, trees planted around a residence were a means of artfully complementing Sydney Harbour’s ‘richly picturesque and wooded hills’. In his Lectures on landscape gardening in Australia (1836), he pictured ‘these villas … surmounted by luxuriant foliage, the trees spreading their magnificent branches over the tops of the edifices’.