Colony of New South Wales
Garden History 44 suppl. 1 Discusses Lancelot Brown’s influence across Europe.
– See Mauldon, V. Shaping the Domain: The Macquaries, presige and parklands in colonial Parramatta. Garden History 44 suppl. 1 191-203.
In 1810 Elizabeth Macquarie, wife of the new Governor Macquarie took charge of their new land to introduce winding paths and landscape features to enhance and compliment the surroundings. There were a few other examples of ‘landscaped’ gardens but until the late 1820s gardening was militaristic and functional, gradually softening with the development of civil society, pastoral wealth and official sanction of ‘villa allotments’. By the 1830s a measure of affluence permitted the display of ‘taste’ as exemplified by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McCleay with his gardens at Elizabeth Bay and Brownlow Hill, and pastoralist William Macarthur at Camden Park. These gentlemen were able to indulge the gardenesque style of the 1830s – the ‘Gardenesque’ (plants separated to display their individual attributes), promoted by their highly influential mutual Scottish friend John Claudius Loudon. This style was emulated both in New South Wales and the other colonies although the smaller gardens continued to be mostly rectilinear and symmetric.
Vaucluse – Sir Hayes took to farming and the ‘ gentleman convict turned gentleman farmer’ also built a house there called Vaucluse House. Elizabeth Bay House is the most elegant and sophisticated house of the 1830s in New South Wales. Alexander Macleay, who arrived in Sydney in 1826 with his wife and six daughters. The Macleays’ interests included entomology, horticulture, landscape design, architecture, natural history illustration and fine art. of poor girls as servants.
Macleay developed Elizabeth Bay as a celebrated landscape garden. The site of the house was chosen for its vistas across Sydney Harbour. The native bush was retained and planted with exotics to enhance its botanical interest and the dramatic topography was embellished with picturesque structures: a turretted stables, cottages, a rustic bridge, terrace walls and grottoes. Macleay’s development of his garden reveals his informed taste and romantic enthusiasm. Macleay’s approach to the Australian bush was in contrast with that of the majority of colonists, who customarily cleared it and started afresh. The bush was planted with specimen orchids and ferns to enhance its botanical interest, which could be enjoyed in the course of a ‘wood walk’. Two notebooks survive – partly in the hand of Alexander and partly in the hand of William Sharp Macleay – Plants Received at Elizabeth Bay, c 1826-1840, and Seeds Received at Elizabeth Bay, 1836-1857. These list the sources of plants for the Elizabeth Bay garden and illustrate a comprehensive approach to plant collecting, similar to their approach to entomology. The plant and seed books contain entries for purchases from the nurserymen Messrs Loddiges of Hackney, London and exchanges with William Macarthur of Camden. They also record the plants contributed by visitors to the Elizabeth Bay estate and by William Sharp Macleay’s natural history collectors in India. Macleay’s garden was notable for its fruit trees. Many visitors also remarked on Macleay’s achievement in creating a garden in what some people believed to be Sydney’s dry conditions and sandy soil. The Elizabeth Bay estate was progressively lost to subdivisions.
The Governors garden, later the RBG Sydney c.1816, was a means of introducing useful plants to the colony.
On 22 Mar. 1801 Lt James Grant, in the Lady Nelson which had been specially fitted out for its exploration of the New Holland southern coast, landed on Churchill Island (Western Port, 150 m NE of Phillip Island) and was impressed by its horticultural potential, naming the island after John Churchill the Devonshire gentleman who supplied the ship with seed of vegetables and fruits. Grant had been given specific instructions from Governor King in the firm tradition of those issued to all Enlightenment voyages of discovery:
… to plant such seeds of fruit trees and useful vegetables as you are supplied with near to such landing places as you may discover in which a safe and commodious anchorage and easy landing render it likely that ships hereafter may frequent, and where the soil appears to be most fertile and productive, and to collect in all places such seeds of trees, plants, shrubs, and grasses as you may find in a state of maturity and judge to be worthy of notice either for their beauty, their particularity, or their possible utility, and to collect such specimens of vegetables, animals, and minerals as you may think likely to prove interesting to naturalists at home.
Grant had also been given the services of Kew-trained gardener and Banks’s resident gardener-botanist George Caley.[ HRNSW Vol.IV, p.483] On 28 March (?April) an area was prepared, sowing wheat, Indian corn, peas, rice, coffee and potatoes. A blockhouse was erected and fruits planted around it. On 8 Dec Lt John Murray who had succeeded Grant in command of the Lady Nelson visited the island eating some of the vegetables: wheat, corn, a few potatoes and two onions had survived. The exact site of the garden and blockhouse is not known. [Pizzey, G. & Ingpen, R. 1976. Churchill Island. Victoria Conservation Trust, Melbourne] Further seed was sown in 1826 by Captain Wright who established a Westernport settlement in 1826. The Hentys, who arrived in Portland Bay in 1834 also established fruit trees and vegetables as did Batman and Fawkner in Melbourne in 1835, Fawkner bringing about 2,500 assorted fruit trees from his nursery at Windmill Hill in Launceston planting these on the edge of a swamp that rose to Emerald Hill.
Although Daniel Bunce claimed to be the first botanist in Victoria he had arrived in the colony in 1839 as a horticulturist from Tasmania, eventually establishing Geelong Botanic garden in 1857.
* James Fleming was the first to plant seed in the Port Phillip district.[ Ducker 1986. Archives Natural History 13: 123-140]
NOTE: After she had arrived in New South Wales, the Lady Nelson was for the next twenty five years one of the most important vessels in the colony. She sailed regularly between Sydney, Norfolk Island, Hobart, Port Dalrymple and Port Macquarie.
In 1807 she was one of the four ships commissioned to bring the first evacuees from Norfolk Island to Hobart Town. She sailed again in 1808 for Hobart Town with more evacuees. Most of the these people were convicts from the First, Second and Third Fleet, along with a few military men, who had been living on Norfolk Island for the previous twenty years.
He was ordered to return and survey the deep bay which he had sailed across in Bass Strait, and in fact to make a general survey of the south coast. He left on 6 March 1801, got as far as Western Port of which a survey was made, and was back at Sydney on 14 May 1801.
Grant was himself conscious of his want of knowledge of nautical surveying. After his return to England Grant published in 1803 his Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery which was shortly afterwards translated into Dutch and German.