Trust tree: Looking west towards the ponderosa pine as it towers over the statue of Mercury. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Gardens’ tall pine a top tree

April 15, 2021 BY

BASED in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, the ponderosa pine is a finalist in the 2021 Victorian Tree of the Year awards.

Registered with the National Trust, it’s known as the tallest tree in the Gardens and is roughly located between the Fraser bust on the Prime Ministers Avenue and the statue of Mercury.

Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens president Terry O’Brien said his team of volunteers are delighted that the pine is one of the nine finalists.

“The pine captures the attention of garden visitors with its tall, straight form, its interesting trunk and beautiful bark,” he said.

“The bark on the trunk is scaly with broad bark plates separated by black crevices, and resembles a jigsaw. Sometimes you can detect its sweet butterscotch smell when you put your nose close to the bark.

“We have two pinus ponderosa in the gardens, but the one nominated is more eye-catching because its position shows it off well.”

Widely seen in the west of the United States the tree species is “exotic” for the Ballarat Botanical Gardens and “has done well” to thrive.

Mr O’Brien said although it has traditionally been the tallest tree for a while, some people dispute that idea.

“More recent measurements claim the cottonwood, populous deltoides, near the Fernery is the tallest.

“Whether the ponderosa pine is the tallest or second tallest tree in the gardens, it is a very tall conifer and has acclimatized well in the Ballarat gardens,” he said.

“The FBBG encourage the Ballarat community to celebrate this fine specimen, and vote for our local tree to be the 2021 Victorian Tree of the Year.”

National Trust of Australia (Victoria) CEO Simon Ambrose said the awards process encourages people to slow down and appreciate their surroundings.

“The Victorian Tree of the Year contest aims to raise awareness of the conservation of the state’s natural heritage, and promote the benefits that trees provide to our culture and way of life,” he said.

“After an incredibly challenging 2020, I’m sure many Victorians can relate to having a renewed sense of appreciation for our gorgeous trees, as for many, they were welcome companions on our countless lockdown walks.

“We encourage all Victorians to get behind this competition to recognise the beautiful green leafy members of our community.”

Cast your vote from Sunday, 18 April at facebook.com/NationalTrustVictoria by clicking ‘like’ on the tree you hope to win. Voting closes on Sunday, 2 May.

Check out the other finalists at nationaltrust.org.au/treeoftheyear.