Sunday, 28 December 2008

Swan River Colony

Edward's Botanical Register 1839 published an account of the Swan River Colony, West Australia, written by John Lindley.

It has appeared to the Editor desirable to take advantage of this opportunity, for publishing at once a detailed account of the vegetation of one of the most interesting of the British Colonial possessions, from which multitudes of seeds are now continually arriving, and which it is absolutely necessary for the lover of gardens to have some knowledge, if he would avoid the vexation of buying plants of no value under high sounding and imposing names. It is probable that for some years to come, few species deserving cultutivation, will be received from Swan River, beyond such as are noticed in this Appendix, which will therefore, it is hoped, form a useful guide to purchasers in this country, and enable those who reside in the colony, or who have friends there, to judge on the one hand what to send home, and on the other, what to ask their correspondents to collect

The Swan River Colony is stationed on the South-west coast of New Holland, about two degrees nearer the tropics than Sydney, on the opposite coast, the mouth of the river being nearly 32ยบ S. lat. ... The country is described as being usually of the open forest description, consisting of undulating plains, covered with a great profusion of plants ; three-fourths of the trees belonging to the genus Eucalyptus. It is broken by the limestone mountains of the Darling Range, which rise about 2000 feet above the sea, and are covered with evergreen trees. ... the climate of the Swan River is like that of the South of Italy ... while any of the native plants may be expected to thrive in the open air in England during the summer, none are likely to bear our winters except the mountain plants, and those only in the South of England.

The more conspicuous plants which greatly contribute to the landscape are, according to Brown, Kingia australis, a species of Xanthorhaea, a Zamia nearly allied to and perhaps not distinct from Z. spiralis of the East coast, although it is said to frequently attain the height of thirty feet ; a species of Callitris ; one or two of Casuarina ; an Exocarpus, probably not different from E. cupressiformis ; and Nuytsia floribunda .... gigantic specimens of Banksia grandis, ... forming groups [with Zamia spiralis] that impart to some places a character perfectly tropical.

No comments: