PACSOA - Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Part I

Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens are on the edge of the central business district, 30 hectares in a spectacular setting on the shores of Sydney Harbour, next to the Opera House. The gardens were founded in 1816, on the site where the first farm had been established in 1788. More land was reclaimed about 1830 from what was then the sandy rocky shore of Farm Cove by the building of a sea wall, which still remains. The position is protected from strong winds and is frost-free. With Sydney's humid climate and an average rainfall of 1200mm, palms do well here, if not as rapid in growth as those cultivated in the tropics.

Figure 1. Sydney CBD from the Gardens.

Figure 2. The sea wall.

Many of the trees which were planted over a century ago are now huge. Some of them provide shady spots for picnickers on the lawns, others provide shade for the palm gardens. The first palms planted were about seven species during the 1820s, but many more were planted in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is likely that many of them still survive among the tall palms, but records are lacking of these plantings. Photos taken in the 1880s show Howeas and Archontophoenix with two to three metres of trunk.

Figure 3. Phoenix reclinata

Figure 4. Jubaea chilensis

Specialised areas of the Gardens include a Fernery, a Rose Garden, a Herb Garden, a Cactus garden and an Oriental Collection. In recent years a Bamboo collection has been established. The latest area planted displays the recently discovered Wollemi Pine, a Begonia collection, and a collection of cycads. There are many huge old trees, but palms are dominant in most areas, about 150 different species of them, as well as about six species of big old Cycads.

Figure 6. Encephalartos altensteinii

Figure 7. Cycad Garden

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