Postcard from Sydney

Just back from a long weekend across the Ditch where one of my ports of call was the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens.  The gardens occupy a prime position in the central city, running around the edge of Farm Cove and almost to the Opera House. Needless to say, they’re popular with joggers, walkers and office workers on lunch breaks.

Thankfully, the record 45.8deg ocurred the day before we arrived and we had something of a cool change – early to mid-20s and overcast skies. And despite spending several hours at the gardens I didn’t see all of it (it’s always motivating to leave something for next time). There are also two other branches of the gardens. One is at Mt Annah, about a 45-minute drive from Sydney (the Australian Botanic Garden), and the other, known as the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, is a 2-hour drive at Mt Tomah.

In the “downtown” garden there are several glass houses and various theme areas, including a “First Contact” garden and a Rainforest Walk which is punctuated by a small group of Wollemi pine, discovered in 1994 and rated as one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants.

There was a frangipani show on in the entry to the glass houses and a guest speaker had attracted a good audience. Potted trees and seeds were for sale and with blossoms in all sorts of rich colour combinations, I was left thinking it’s a shame our climate isn’t better suited for them. Visit the Frangipani Society of Australia website to find out more.

Lei-making using frangipani blossoms was one of the activities at the show.

I have seen frangipani grown here (there’s at least one outside the Tropical Display House in Cliff Rd) but a touch of frost leaves them looking tatty, while a good cold snap can kill them.

Xanthorrhoea (Australia grass tree) species, which aren’t seen too often here, are popular as corporate and hotel plantings in Sydney, and cycads are all over the place – there’s a mass planting outside the arrivals terminal and  they’re even being combined with marigolds and salvias as temporary street plantings!

A couple of youngsters sort out how to stay cool by using a public water feature (note the potted cycad at the front left).

One of a pair of potted Xanthorrhoea at the pedestrian entry to the Intercontinetal Hotel.


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