The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Garden design in South Australia

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938. Southern Australia, including Port Philip and King George's Sound. ' Port Philip,' observes Mr. Backhouse, ' may be called a small inland sea; the land is not visible across it except when elevated.' (Ibid., p. 497.) Below Arthur's Scat there is a considerable range of hills, on the east side of Port Philip, which are grassy, with trees thinly scattered upon them. These are chiefly the spherical-headed Casuarina quadri-valvis, which, though common in Van Diemen's Land, is rarely seen in New South Wales. Several species of Loranthus are growing on the trees here. One of the plants which yield food to the natives here, is Podolepis acuminata, which, Mr. Backhouse tells us, 'is about a foot high, and has flowers in some degree resembling the sweet sultan, but of a deeper yellow; it abounds in rich soils, especially about the margins of salt marshes, and has a thickened root, compared by some to a potato. Another resembles a dandelion, but it has very narrow leaves, and a nodding bud: its roots resemble scorzonera.' (Ibid., p. 505.) Near Port Adelaide, ' the way was over two level plains, separated by a slight sandy rise, covered with wood. The soil of the plains was a reddish loam, having a slight admixture of sand and calcareous matter. They were covered with tufted grass and small herbs. Among the latter were a species of Eryngium, a foot high, the leaves of which are eaten with avidity by cattle, and some small yellow-flowered everlastings. Near the sea, the land becomes saline, and produces crimson mesembryanthemums, and numerous maritime shrubs. On a sand-bank separating the plain from the salt marsh, which borders the creek or inlet that forms the harbour, there are trees of a species of Callitris, resembling the cypress. These are here called pines, and have trunks about forty feet high, which are used for piles.' (Ibid., p. 510.) The salt marsh was covered by Salicornia and Frankenia. At King George's Sound, the principal plants are Kingia australis, Sollya heterophylla, Anthocercis viscida, and Cephalotus follicularis, the latter having pitcher-like vessels among the leaves.