The famous jacaranda that once graced the Quadrangle, has been replaced by a clone of itself. The new version of the jacaranda will now share the Quad with a native Illawarra flame tree.
On the chilly evening of 20 July this year, a team of tree planters moved into the Quadrangle with trucks and earth-moving equipment. They were there to begin a new chapter in the University’s history, by planting a jacaranda sapling in the place where the previous and iconic tree had been.
Though it’s a clone, some things for the new tree are different. The previous tree had stood for most of its 88 years, magnificent but alone. The new one has the company of a native Illawarra flame tree, planted in the opposite corner.
The flame tree was chosen to acknowledge that the University is built on the lands of Australia’s first peoples who have taught and learned there for tens of thousands of years.
“A lot of preparation works took place prior to planting; soil and drainage improvements,” says Mark Moeller, the University’s landscape and grounds manager. “It was a relief to finally see them both in the ground.”
The next day, under a pristine winter sky, preparations began for two days of official and community events to welcome the new trees. More than 1000 staff, students and alumni came to the Quadrangle to relax, play lawn games and see the three-year-old trees in what should be their home for the next 100 years.
The trees, which both currently stand at around 4.5m high, are expected to take a couple of years to settle in. “I would hope to see them both double in size in the next three to four years,” Moeller says.
Since the trees usually flower at the same time, the day will come when the lush purple of the jacaranda and the intense red of the flame tree will provide a stunning backdrop for countless graduation photos.
Moeller is proud to have been part of the planting. “A few of us who planted them have small children, and we did comment how one day we hope to tell our kids when they graduate:
‘I helped plant those trees’.”
You can visit the new trees at the University any time. In fact, the new jacaranda has just started to bloom. To ensure you're invited to future events, update your contact details.