Tropical George Brown Botanic Gardens in Darwin sits close to the centre of this vibrant city in the ‘Top End’ of northern Australia. The town itself has wonderful gardens established since the devastating Cyclone Tracy hit the Northern Territory in 1974. The gardens are easily accessible and extend over many acres.
There are many trees here that are not represented in collections or gardens elsewhere in Australia and it is filled with gems that survive in this rather harsh dry tropical environment, with its intense heat and high humidity. Visiting in October we were there for some spring flowers.
Cordia subcordata is as orange as the setting sun on Mindil Beach. Here the diverse cultures of the city are found in an explosion of food and market stalls. Cordia subcordata can be found from East Africa to Tropical Australia. The tree is 4-5 metres tall and has dense foliage.
Tabebuia are very adaptable and grow well here in the dry Darwin climate as well as those on the east coast of Australia. Here they have one of the less common species, Tabebuia rosea-alba. This species originates in Brazil. The white flowers with pale yellow centres smother the tree making it a sight to behold.
Nothing prepared us for the next gem, Baikea insignis. This little known genus is also from Tropical Africa. The flower is larger than the outstretched hand with four large white petals,white and ruffled like crepe paper and a single yellow petal. The foliage is also attractive with its pendent leaves and the new foliage has a pink flush. The flowers are held above the foliage.
If flowering trees are not your thing the foliage trees are also interesting. Not far from the front gate is Ficus auriculata. The large leaves are beautifully textured and shaped.
Further afield one finds the unusual serpentine branches of the Moringa species arising from its bottle shaped trunk. This plant is a valuable food source in some parts of the world. The trunk is for water storage in dry times making it a perfect plant for the darwin climate.
Adansonia suarezensis also has this water storage mechanism.It is one of the rare species from Madagascar.
If you love trees, a visit to the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens is certainly worthwhile.