The most notable feature of the Gardens is the wonderful trees that have been used to line many of the pathways.
The gardens were initially designed by Clement Hodgkinson and planted by park gardener, James Sinclair, as a dense woodland with meandering avenues. The land originally had been swampy with a creek draining into the Yarra River. The creek was landscaped with ferns and 130 willows, but that did not stop it smelling foul from the sewage from the houses of East Melbourne. The creek was used for irrigation of the western side of the gardens for fifty years. In the early 1900s the creek water substantially improved when sewerage mains were installed to the residences of East Melbourne.
In the early years quick growing blue gums and wattles were planted to provide wind breaks. Elm Trees were planted to create avenues along pathways, which created a pattern in resemblance to the Union Flag.
Clement Hodgkinson described the landscaping design:
- ...the chief desiderata were shade along the numerous paths therein forming important lines of traffic, and such dense and continuous masses of foliage as would tend to check the inroad of dust from the adjacent streets.
- Consequently, in such reserves, strict adherence to the rules of landscape gardening, with regard to the grouping of trees, etc., had to be abandoned in favour of the formal lining of the paths with rows of umbrageous trees, and the planting in the background of dense masses of conifers, evergreen shrubs, fern trees, etc., small flowering shrubs and bedding flowers being merely introduced to mask the unsightly aspect of the grass in such reserves during summer
During the 1880s and 1890s many of the blue gums and elms were removed to create more room for existing trees, as well as sweeping lawns and ornamental flowerbeds.
Read more about this topic: Fitzroy Gardens
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