Still standing after 100 years

3 April 2014

Members of the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society and Friends of the Arboretum have gathered to sing happy birthday to two of the oldest trees on campus.

The 100-year old trees, located outside Old Canberra House, are a Himalayan cedar and a Lebanese cedar. Both were planted on April 3, 1914.

"They're both formal plantings by Earl Grey and Lady Grey," says Professor Cris Brack, from the Fenner School.

"So it would have been quite a ceremony of planting."

The Cedar of Lebanon is a symbolic and valuable tree for the Middle East and is rare in its native habitat.

"But the conservation movement has picked it up and there are plantations around the place.  There's also an attempt to try to get it to grow naturally. So it's not going to go extinct, but in its home-range it's quite endangered."

The two trees were planted about a year after Old Canberra House was built at the southern end of the campus.

Professor Brack says there's something symbolic and special about planting trees.

"When you plant trees, you have to be looking forward to the future. We knew when they planted this one in 1914, you've got to be looking forward for 100, 200, 300 years. They didn't know, of course, that the World War was going to break out only five months after they planted it. And so when you see that tree, you see hope for the future."

"The trees can survive another 100 years. They're in their prime. In another 100 years you might start to get some deadwood, but they'll survive that and go strong."

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