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A botanic walk to the new library

Let us start our botanical stroll on the Hampden Rd footpath near the railway line, then continue into the underpass and up through the plaza to the new library on the corner of Tindale and Artarmon rds.

On the left of the footpath, before you go into the underpass, there is a groundcover of ivy and then a clump of Acanthus mollis. Acanthus is native to the Mediterranean and its deeply toothed leaves were copied as an architectural ornament on the capitals of Corinthian columns. It is a hardy plant that grows well in shade and has tall flower spikes in late spring or early summer, depending on its location.

On the other side of the path are Camellias and two Lorapetalun chinensis “Rubra” or Chinese Strap Flower. These evergreen shrubs have bright pink spider flowers in early spring, followed by new red foliage, which retains its colour for some time. The council has been using these plants to good effect in the little park at the back of the Chatswood Albert St carpark. Also on your right in our station garden is a ground cover of clipped Trachelospermum jasminoides or Star Jasmine.

When we have walked through the underpass into the plaza, we find Clivea, three Crepe Myrtles (Largestroemia) and several Schinus molle, the Pepper Tree much loved in western country areas because of its graceful habit and hardiness, resistance to drought.

We cross Elizabeth St and come to a sad looking neglected area but see that it is undergoing rejuvenation as evidenced by several black plastic seedling pots upended on short stakes to indicate the location of new plantings among the leaf litter. Nearby there remain a Callistemon (Bottlebrush) and a Banksia.

Next we cross Tindale Rd and head up the slope. On either side of the street are Brush Box, Lophostemon confertus (previously Tristania confertus). There are 16 altogether, eight on each side, grown from seed given to the council in 1931 by a Woy Woy collector of botanical seed. Brush Box grows on the margins of rain forests. On the east side of the street, slotted in between the Box trees is a palm, Agapanthus, Cotoneaster and one tall Sydney Blue Gum – all, I presume, planted by different residents. The Blue Gum is a tall straight tree with smooth blue-green bark and a stocking of rough grey fibrous bark. It has a heavy crown and narrow leaves tapering to a point, paler underneath.

Now cross Artarmon Rd to the new library in the old Presbyterian Church. There is a small bricked garden plot planted with roses and rosemary and a hedge of clipped perfumed Murraya. The brick fence is covered with Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus), that hardy deciduous creeper that provides colour in autumn, especially in colder climates.

On the grassy verge along the Tindale Rd side there are three Jacarandas, which council planted only a few years ago as part of a Jacaranda blitz. As you cross Artarmon Rd, on your way down the hill, look west to check the traffic and against the skyline you will see some tall older Jacarandas fronted by several Bottlebrush, the popular native Callistemon, which you have no doubt seen planted on footpath verges in many other Artarmon streets.

by Mollie Shelley

Courtesy of Gazette November 2012
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