I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a fascination for trees, be it because of their shape, size, colour or even oddity; I’ve always liked trees. Some people love flowers and even specific flowers such as roses or orchids and while I can appreciate them, they don’t hold the same feeling that I get when amongst magnificent, or not so magnificent trees. Even dead trees have an aura that no other plant, that I know of, can emulate. When simply a skeleton of its former self, a tree can still stand proud and tell a story. And nothing impresses me more than European trees and their great variety (at least down here in the south). That’s not to say I don’t like natives, but there’s something additional that European trees seem to express, surviving so far from their native homelands.
Mossvale Park in South Gippsland is one such place, which is on a State government Heritage List, where such magnificent European trees thrive, in no small part due to the care that was taken when the gardens were first established in the 19th century, as well as the somewhat European climate in this valley. The park was originally planted by owner Francis Moss (a nurseryman) 1887-1916 and was purchased by the Shire of Woorayl in 1946 . As I’ve mentioned previously, Mossvale Park is host to many activities in the summer months, notably music festivals, but without doubt, it’s the trees that make the park what it is and what attracts such activities to the park. In a very odd way, I see European trees as being a bit like dogs, they are mostly people friendly and generally predictable; whereas, natives (eucalypts) are more like cats, aloof and unpredictable.
Mossvale Park must present a magnificent outlook to the several properties that reside on the hillside overlooking the park and through which the access road runs to their properties. The massive trees overhang large areas of the park, some of which span areas literally larger than many suburban blocks. There is one tree in particular, a Chestnut-Leaved Oak (one of four National Trust registered trees in the park), where the branches span a radius of approx 20 metres, which gives it an area of 1256 square metres; that’s around three small (regular size nowadays?) suburban house blocks. The tree houses that one could build, in this one large tree alone, would create a small village.
With spring well underway, everything is either in full leaf, or the slower developers are still sprouting buds. I’m not sure exactly what dictates the rate of growth following winter, but the variance can be significant. One of the weeping Mulberries was recently relocated from the newly expanded Leongatha hospital (thankfully someone had such foresight) and maybe that’s what’s making it slightly slower in the growth stakes. Though even the older weeping Mulberry appears to lag the other trees, so maybe they are just a little slower in becoming motivated.
But there are more than just European trees in the park; there are also natives and ferns to provide a nice balance between the new world and the old world. But, as is often the case, the European trees seem to age more slowly and elegantly (if that’s the right word), and appear to last the longest. That certainly appears to be the case at least with the ones in this park, as they seem to be less prone to the ravages of the storms that sometimes cause havoc with the native trees in the area. That said, the variety of trees is outstanding, with each one adding its own signature and character to the park, from the newest sapling to the gnarliest old timer.
It has taken a while, but even the Weeping Mulberries are finally coming into leaf and sunlight illuminates the leaves of all the trees in the park.
In any case, whenever I come across interesting or unusual trees, I have to grab my camera and take some photos. However, it’s a pity that I can’t always to do so when on the road and I’ve missed many opportunities because it just hasn’t been practical or possible to stop. I’m just glad that such trees are still about and that we can wander amongst them and even give them a hug, if one is inclined to do so.