Top tree stands tall

Photo of Jerry Cole with his Hillgrove Gum

Many moons ago Jerry Cole planted a seedling in the front yard of his family home.

Left to its own devices, nurtured by time and sustained by resilience, it simply grew. Some 40 years later, this grand, regal tree dominates its urban streetscape. It casts a cool welcome shade in summer, is nature’s boarding house for a myriad of critters, adds character and vibrancy to the very nature of life here in our beautiful bush capital.

Where did it come from? As a seed collector with the CSIRO, Jerry traversed the length and breadth of our island continent seeking a deeper appreciation of our unique flora. Arriving one day at a mine site in Hillgrove on the northern NSW tablelands, Jerry collected a few seeds. When he propagated them in a CSIRO greenhouse, stunning seedlings sprouted. One of these infant trees eventually found its way to the newly built suburb of Hughes. The rest is history.

Hillgrove Gums are a rare species. As such, a forest has been planted at the National Arboretum. In light of Jerry’s wonderful tree, this forest will be breathtakingly magnificent with time.

Jerry has had a fascinating career. In 1984, as part of joint Australian–French expedition, he ventured to far-flung northern Australia where he noticed not all the acacia seeds he was collecting were the same. His scientific curiosity was sparked. An entirely new species was discovered that day and named, in his honour, Acacia colei. Due to its remarkable bush tucker attributes, Acacia colei now sustains famine-affected populations, nourishing communities in faraway Africa. All thanks to Jerry’s keen eye for botanical excellence.

Meanwhile, back in Canberra, the ACT Tree Register was established in 2006 to capture and conserve urban trees that represent exceptional value to our community. The register was developed in response to public concern around the potential loss of beautiful trees as a result urban infill and residential development. The register was enshrined in legislation.

This register provides people who are passionate about a tree or a group of trees an opportunity to conserve them for current and future generations. Jerry’s outstanding Hillgrove Gum is on the register for all to enjoy.

The ACT Tree Register is brimming with over 200 citations, registering majestic individual trees on public and private land as well as forests of outstanding trees like the 2,685 pines within the popular urban woodland of Haig Park.

Anyone can nominate a tree they think meets the criteria for its natural or cultural heritage, aesthetic or scientific value. If you, like Jerry, know of a tree that would met the criteria, why not nominate it? ACT Tree Register - Transport Canberra and City Services

Photo by Dylan Jones, ACT Government

Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared on 7 August 2018 in The Chronicle