Australian Garden Fact Sheet
During the Shorb era, the area on which the Australian Garden now stands was occupied by a grove of Washington Navel oranges. ? By the 1940's the trees were in decline and removed. In 1943, the area was planted with close rows of approximately 1000 eucalyptus trees as a USDA test plot (a second plot was planted on the site of the current parking lot). By the 1960's this dense planting had become an overgrown fire hazard and the trees were drastically thinned, leaving several of the most attractive and interesting specimens. These were interplanted with informal groupings of other Australian species and the area was opened to the public in 1964.
Australia's long (60 million years) isolation from other land masses has allowed development of a unique flora and fauna. Vascular plants are currently estimated at 18,000 to 20,000 taxa with an eventual 25,000 expected once the flora is completely surveyed and described. Ancient geology has resulted in a mosaic of soil types, allowing a large diversity of species to occur in small localized areas. The majority of plants are pollinated by vertebrates rather than insects.
Australian climate and vegetation ranges from desert to rainforest to alpine, though the millions of years of weathering have left a relatively flat topography, with the tallest mountain, Mt. Kosciusko, only 7316 feet tall. ? Southwestern Australia and the southwestern area of South Australia into western Victoria is one of the five Mediterranean climate regions of the world (the others being California, central Chile, the Cape Province of South Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin).
Cycads - 4 of the 11 genera are found in Australia, though only Macrozamia is grown in the Australian Garden.
Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae) - perhaps the plants most associated with Australia, with over 500 species found in virtually every habitat except rainforest and some desert regions. Exclusively Australian except for a few species in New Guinea and the Philippines (Example: ? E. deglupta , the Rainbow Gum or Mindinao Gum). The tallest flowering plant in the world is E. regnans , specimens of which have been recorded at over 300 ft. tall.
Other Myrtaceae - Perhaps the most important family in the Australian flora, the largely tropical Myrtaceae has undergone its greatest diversification in Australia, with 1300 of 3500 species and 75 of 150 genera only found there. Familiar genera include: ? Callistemon (bottlebrushes), Melalaeuca (paperbarks, honey-myrtles), Leptospermum (tea-trees), Calothamnus (one-sided bottlebrushes), Chamelaucium (waxflowers)
Acacia - Second in importance only to the eucalypts, though with 700 species (of 1100 worldwide) more numerous both in species and individuals, covering even more of the continent than "eucs". ? Many have phyllodes (expanded, flattened leaf stalks) that serve as leaves; others have bipinnate ferny leaves. ?
Proteaceae - Though more often associated with South Africa, Western Australia is the center of radiation and diversification for this primarily Southern Hemisphere family. ? The largest genus is Grevillea , of which 338 of the 343 species occur only in Australia. Other Australian genera cultivated here include Banksia, Dryandra, and Hakea.
Anigozanthos 'Gold Fever'
Kangaroo paws - The 12 species of the monocot genus Anigozanthos are found only in southwestern Australia. ? A. flavidus is the most commonly cultivated and blooms in summer. ? Numerous hybrids have been developed in recent years to provide resistance to the "ink-spot disease" caused by the common airborne fungus Alternaria alternata and introduced into the plants by wounds from snail and slug rasping.
Extensive weed control has greatly improved the appearance of this garden. ? New plantings to extend and create new beds have occurred. ? An interior path is planned for sometime in the future.