100 Hidden Hoop Pines

The Brisbane Quaker Arboretum.

In many places the city tree is becoming almost an endangered species. In city streets, trees have to compete for space with power lines, underground water, gas and telecommunications, car parks, building awnings and more. A desire for very large houses on not-so-large blocks of land also restricts the type of trees that can be grown.

We rely on trees to cool and clean the air, and provide shade, fruit and flowers. Australians love our outdoor lifestyle and unique native species, yet when it comes to trees, our actions sometimes don’t match our words.

So it was a real surprise and delight for me to visit a place right in inner-Brisbane where trees are held in high esteem.

This is the Brisbane Quaker Arboretum.

Located on a half-hectare site in Kelvin Grove the property was purchased by the Quaker community in 1972.

It had previously been owned by Storrie & Co., Joinery and Manufacturers, who had planted Hoop Pines (Araucaria cunninghamii) throughout the site.

Today 100 hoops remain, averaging in age from 80 to 90 years old.

The Hoop Pine takes its name from the textured bark, which peels away in ribbons, or 'hoops'.

The Hoop Pine takes its name from the textured bark, which peels away in ribbons, or 'hoops'.

When the Quakers purchased the site it had become overgrown with weeds and introduced species. The task of cleaning it up began in the early 1990s.

Over many years the non-natives have been removed and the hillside site revegetated.

The revegetation work is ongoing.

The revegetation work is ongoing.

Tracks wind through, taking visitors up and down the slope, and offering numerous places to stop and sit.

The rockpool is near the bottom of the gully, surrounded by subtropical rainforest plantings.

The rockpool is near the bottom of the gully, surrounded by subtropical rainforest plantings.

The paths themselves are edged in stone, a material that also appears as walls and steps throughout the arboretum.

After crossing this bridge the path leads up to a play area that includes a flying fox.

After crossing this bridge the path leads up to a play area that includes a flying fox.

This dry stacked stone seat is integrated into a retaining wall near the front of the property.

This dry stacked stone seat is integrated into a retaining wall near the front of the property.

Amongst the planting are Lemon Scented Myrtles (Backhousia citriodora), a species named after Quaker James Backhouse, an English-born naturalist who travelled and worked throughout Australia between 1832 and 1838.

As I discovered, lemon scented myrtle can be used to make a bloody good cordial, a refreshment being savoured by many others enjoying their visit to the Quaker Arboretum as part of the Australian Open Gardens Scheme.

This is the third year the Arboretum has been open to the public, and a steady stream of visitors wandered the grounds, chatting to the people at the butterfly garden stand, and indulging in the holy grail of community events: homemade scones.

Learning about attracting butterflies to the garden.

Learning about attracting butterflies to the garden.

Scone HQ.

Scone HQ.

Barely three kilometers from the city centre, the Brisbane Quaker Arboretum is both a calming retreat and an inspirational example of how we can slowly, diligently and persistently care for our environment.

Brisbane's luckiest neighbours look onto the Arboretum from their house and garden.

Brisbane's luckiest neighbours look onto the Arboretum from their house and garden.

Solar panels on the carport roof. Water tanks collect rainwater from all buildings on site.

Solar panels on the carport roof. Water tanks collect rainwater from all buildings on site.

Marking the entry.

Marking the entry.

The inner-suburban street setting gives little clue to the oasis beyond.

The inner-suburban street setting gives little clue to the oasis beyond.

Now it’s over to you.

What did you think of the Brisbane Quaker Arboretum? Did you know that such a place existed, or were you as surprised as I was to discover this hidden treasure? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

In the spirit of sharing, if you know someone who might find this story interesting, please feel free to pass it along.

See you soon for more garden, landscape and design stories.

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The Brisbane Quaker Arboretum is at 10 Hampson Street, Kelvin Grove. It is open to the public annually for one weekend as part of the Australian Open Garden Scheme.