For the Love of Trees

By Jill Keith, Beechworth

For the Love of Trees

On Sunday May 3 on a sunny day I joined about 50 people at Mayday Hills Heritage Gardens for a free guided tour organised by  the Beechworth Treescape Group inviting us to ‘Walk the Colours of Autumn’.  Our brochures identified 48 native and exotic trees in each of three separate walks.  We were led by Harvey Anderssen who chose some of his favourite trees to linger under to inform us about countries of origin, reproduction aspects, seasonal transformations and much curiosity was evoked about the various lifestyles of these silent sentinels. The colours of the deciduous trees on that perfect day extracted gasps of admiration and did we actually swoon under the giant conifers.

I returned next day to the Mayday Hills Gardens with my brochure and camera to investigate three trees of the same species I had planted in my garden some 25 years ago. A Kurrajong (native), Chinese Elm and Golden Cypress I planted within a few metres of each other with the vague intention of creating an evergreen arbour.  The three ‘elders’ specimens of these at Mayday planted a hundred years ago by arborists soar majestically above in their own special space. Mine by contrast have jostled for the upper hand (limb) alternately dominating by spurts of vertical and horizontal thrustings.  Which one or maybe two would I sacrifice for one beautiful specimen was an ongoing dilemma.  But this year they all seem happy to interlock thus avoiding the grief of the chainsaw, for now anyway.

Another case study is a Lemon Scented Gum that I planted by my path two years ago.  There are several of these beautiful gigantic trees at Mayday Hills.  Mine came home from the nursery in a tube in spring in 2013 and was low enough to cover from frost that winter.  It had shot up to two metres by winter last year and the frost finally knocked it back to its base.  Remarkably it has re- grown into a beautiful symmetrical sapling and I hope that it will weather well this its third winter. On its journey to maturity it will pass a contented established Dogwood and a weeping blue conifer.  They will sort themselves out!

I can only imagine my little arboretum that will outlive me many times over. Ah, trees rule!

All of Mayday Hills gardens and buildings are classified heritage by National Trust. The Beechworth Treescape Group is helping the Indigo Shire Council to prepare a register of significant trees.

The Beechworth Heritage Group has organised a photo competition called ‘Significant Trees in the Indigo Shire Photo Story Competition’.  Entries close October 28, 2015.  Information/entry forms: beechworthheritage@gmail.com, m. 0408 57 97 81.

When you visit Mayday Hills Gardens pick up a tree walks brochure from the George Kerferd Hotel at the site.  Winter is also a rewarding visit.