Friday, 25 January 2013

Unusual plants at Mt Tomah

One of several large patches of the Kenyan giant lobelia, Lobelia aberdarica
 On a very cold snowy evening it seems pleasant to revisit another good garden in Australia, seen during my tour in November last year. The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is a satellite of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, established in the 1980s at 1000 m in the Blue Mountains on the slopes of Mt Tomah, to grow cool climate plants. It is indeed a cool climate, with frequent snow and sharp frosts in winter, and is temperate even inn the Australian summer. The plants - as can be seen from the selection illustrated in this post - come from all over the world, making a rather unique assemblage in a compact space. The garden itself covers 28 ha, but the property also includes a large tract of natural Eucalyptus forest, with some relict patches of montane rainforest. With several friends working in the garden it's a place I've wanted to visit for a long time - thanks to Mat, Steve and Michael for giving me a fascinating tour.

Another African rosette plant, Aloe polyphylla, endemic to Lesotho, in full flower.

Puya chilensis produces a massive inflorescence froma clump ov viciously tooth-edged leaves, but the flowers are worth the inconvenience. 

Puya chilensis

Part of the rock garden, with an access ramp built the garden's master builder, Michael Carle.
An Australian native aquatic Ranunculus, with yellow flowers instead of the expected white.

Cheiranthera linearis, a  native plant I'd never heard of, belonging to the Pittosporaceae.
Male cones on Araucaria montana, from New Caledonia.

A hedge made of Saxegothaea conspicua, a  yew-like podocarp from Chile, named in honour of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

A view over the Eucalyptus forest of the Blue Mountains: the most diverse assortment of eucalypts occurs here. Montane rainforest shows as darker green patches.

A fern climbs tree trunks in a fragment of rainforest adjacent to the garden.

The bower of a male Satin Bower-bird; he dances in the mouth of the bower, attracting females with an assortment of brightly coloured objects outside. Note to gardeners: blue labels are not a good idea in bower-bird country!


  1. john in Nova Scotia26 January 2013 at 17:06

    Not many can boast of a Saxegotheca hedge eh?

  2. That fern growing up the tree is impressive. Thanks for sharing such fascinating plants

  3. Thanks for the glimpse, John, of what is obviously a unique garden. Quite different from alpine conditions in the Northern Hemisphere: those Lobelia look so at home! And the Aloe breaks my heart (it's not done for us in Denver)...So fun to follow your travels!

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