Holly Kerr Forsyth: trees for all sea­sons. Open Gar­den with He­len Young.

Whether or­na­men­tal, ar­chi­tec­tural or flag­ging the chang­ing sea­sons, trees star in all kinds of spa­ces

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE - HOLLY KERR FORSYTH

Apart from be­ing es­sen­tial for the health of our en­vi­ron­ment, trees have many uses. In gar­dens they pro­vide fra­grance and colour, struc­ture and es­sen­tial de­sign fea­tures. De­cid­u­ous trees en­sure the ex­cite­ment of the chang­ing sea­sons, while conifers can pro­vide the “bones” of a gar­den. Trees are also repos­i­to­ries of his­tory and of sto­ries. If they could speak, they would have many tales: of hopes and dreams and of des­per­a­tion.

Early Euro­pean set­tlers trans­ported acorns and seeds in their pock­ets so they could cre­ate gar­dens that re­minded them of home. In one gar­den along Tas­ma­nia’s Mid­lands High­way, an av­enue of elms that leads into the prop­erty was planted as seed in 1830. At a nearby su­perfine merino stud, the av­enue of oak grew from acorns planted in 1840.

A tree for all sea­sons, oaks ( Quer­cus spp.) are de­servedly among the most prized of the or­na­men­tal trees. Com­pris­ing about 600 species, oaks are per­fect in large gar­dens. Slow grow­ing and liv­ing to a great age, their wood is prized for ship­build­ing, floor­ing and fur­ni­ture. Most are dis­ease re­sis­tant and re­quire lit­tle prun­ing.

The English oak ( Q. robur) is the best known, eu­lo­gised in lit­er­a­ture and in paint­ings of the English land­scape school. Early colo­nial artists, such as Louis Haghe, Joseph Lycett and John Glover, of­ten de­picted the land­scapes of their pas­toral­ist pa­trons as an Ar­ca­dian idyll of a bu­colic life, and as late as 1869 Louis Bu­velot was paint­ing eu­ca­lypts in the shape of oaks.

And south of Perth, par­tic­u­larly in the Mar­garet and Black­wood river ar­eas, the forests of karri ( Eu­ca­lyp­tus di­ver­si­color) and marri ( Corymbia calo­phylla) that broke the hearts of ear­li­est Euro­pean set­tlers as they strug­gled to build in the new colony re­main mag­nif­i­cent to­day.

In vil­lages around the coun­try, the young men killed in World War I are re­mem­bered by the plant­ings of po­plars and me­mo­rial drives of ev­er­green conifers.

Nowhere are trees more revered and re­spected than in Ja­pan. In win­ter, conifers are wrapped in straw to pro­tect them from snow. The limbs of an­cient trees, such as those at Ken­rokuen, an 11ha stroll gar­den in the moun­tain city of Kanazawa, are lov­ingly sup­ported by large poles.

Ken­rokuen was de­vel­oped from the 17th to the 19th cen­turies by the Maeda clan as the outer for­ti­fi­ca­tion to their cas­tle. The name of the gar­den, taken from Chi­nese aes­thetic of the Song pe­riod, rep­re­sents six at­tributes con­sid­ered de­sir­able for a per­fect land­scape: spa­cious­ness, seclu­sion, ar­ti­fice, an­tiq­uity, wa­ter­ways and panora­mas.

The fa­mous black pine ( Pi­nus thun­bergii), held up by solid poles all year, is pro­tected from heavy win­ter snow­falls by an in­ge­nious sys­tem of ropes, erected in a tent-like ar­range­ment. It was planted as a seed brought from nearby Lake Biwa by the 13th Maeda war­lord in the 19th cen­tury.

The Ju­das tree ( Cer­cis sili­quas­trum), said to be the tree from which Ju­das Is­car­iot hanged him­self af­ter he be­trayed Je­sus, is na­tive to the Middle East. Its cousin, the black-leafed Cer­cis canadensis ‘For­est Pansy’, loves a cold cli­mate and looks won­der­ful un­der­planted with black tulips and black-flow­er­ing helle­bores.

The horse chest­nut ( Aes­cu­lus hip­pocas­tanum), a ma­jes­tic tree in any large gar­den, also pro­vides flour in some parts of the Middle East.

Slow grow­ing and liv­ing to a great age, oaks are prized for ship­build­ing, floor­ing and fur­ni­ture

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