Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne Australia are under attack!

I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne a couple of days ago and saw, amongst other things, damage that has been inflicted on trees and cacti by vandals. Probably the saddest sight was the Separation Tree which is a heritage tree that existed before Europeans colonized Australia.

The Separation Tree is named so because it is where citizens gathered to celebrate state of Victoria separating from the state of New South Wales in 1850. It also holds cultural significance for people indigenous to the area. It is a river redgum and is over 400 years old. The tree was ring barked back in 2010 and had survived by a technique called 'bridge grafting' where redgum sapling bark is grafted across the damaged area, thereby bridging the ring barking allowing energy photosynthesized by the leaves in the canopy to reach the tree's roots. Without the bridge grafts energy cannot be sent to the trees roots and they die. The dead roots cannot send water and nutrients up to the canopy and the canopy then dies. Needless to say it angers me and others to see it attacked once more as even with the bridge grafts the tree was still struggling to stay alive.

The most recent attack was on the 21st of July and amazingly it followed another attack which was on the area in the gardens known as 'Guilfoyle's Volcano' on July the 5th. Guilfoyles volcano is an area planted out with succulents and cacti. When I visited it the damaged plants were nearly all replaced but it didn't look quite as grand as many of the plants were smaller than the originals. Below is a link to a news report showing some of the scale of the damage to the cacti and succulents. In that attack most of the large plants in the succulent garden were damaged.

The attacks have prompted calls for better security to be installed to protect the gardens. The gardens CEO however, has stated  ''In the end though, the gardens can not, and should not, be a high-security compound" and also ''We seem to have a problem with a small number of individuals who have no regard for the importance of these trees and the significance of the gardens". If more attacks occur I personally think that tighter security is necessary and should be used.

The Separation Tree as I saw it on my visit. The hessian covers sphagnum moss in an effort to assist healing. I'm guessing that the moss is only a temporary measure and that bridge grafting will again take place.

Another victim, this time a spotted gum.

Sign of the times.

Attempted ring barking. I wonder whether they were disturbed and ran or if they just got tired and stopped?

This is the succulent garden that surrounds a water reservoir called 'Guilfoyle's Volcano' (not a real volcano of course).

The succulent garden was looking leaner than usual but impressive nonetheless.

More evidence of vandalism.

 'Guilfoyles Volcano' was built in 1876 to store water for the gardens. For 60 years it was left idle but has now been restored. William Guilfoyle become the second director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne in 1873 succeeding Ferdinand Von Mueller. He radically changed the gardens and made them more ornamental and scenic as opposed to Von Mueller's vision which was more of a systems garden. Below are pictures of the top of the volcano. 


  1. it's such a shame, people ought to be ashamed of themselves...however great pics Alex..I have been a bit slack lately and only just got into your blog about this...thanks for the news..

  2. There is only one solution to this cowardly and senseless attack on those trees - imprisonment for at least 20 years without release.

    One wonders how any deranged individual is able to walk the face of this earth? Whatever their motives are, only they know what went through their sick minds when they decided to take an axe along during the night and jump the gates and fence of the gardens.

    26 December 2014 - The Separation Tree looks dead and all leaves are dried and brown. No remaining protection on tree trunk and no bark surrounding ring barked wound.

    All state governments in Australia need to invoke legislation to deter this senseless destruction and vandalism to our trees. What prison term is adequate one may ask? I think 20 to 25 years immediate prison and not to be released under any circumstances whatsoever. Those trees harmed nobody and belonged to all Victorians.

    The growing trend of vandalism including graffiti and other senseless acts needs to be looked at by the government and severe penalties put into place.