Earth Sciences

Earth Sciences

Jim Rose Earth Sciences Garden

In 1982, inspired by the plantings in the Biology courtyard, palaeontologists John Talent and Ruth Mawson worked with Frank Mercer and Alison Downing from Biological Sciences, and with the support of and encouragement from Wally Abraham and university engineer Max Fairleigh, developed the gardens adjacent to the Earth Sciences buildings – E5A, E5B and E7B – as an evolutionary garden.

Map of the Earth Sciences GardenThe concept was to divide the courtyard into two sections, so that the gardens on the north and west were planted with Laurasian (predominantly) northern hemisphere species, such as Magnolia, Pecan Nut (Carya illinoiensis), Camellias, Prunus (Flowering Plums), Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum) and Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). The gardens on the eastern and southern sides were planted with Gondwanan (predominantly) southern hemisphere species, such as Macadamia, Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), She Oaks (Allocasuarina spp.), Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolium) and Queensland Firewheel Tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus). The pathway through the central area of the courtyard was titled “Wallace’s Line”, a reference to the line drawn through south-east Asia, separating Laurasia from Gondwana.

Earth Sciences garden landscape

This project received great support from staff and students who raised much of the funding required for landscaping and purchase of the plants. Professor Jim Rose, Head of the School of Earth Sciences at that time, provided a tremendous amount of support and encouragement. A wonderful additional feature of the courtyard has been the installation of some massive rocks, including Devonian limestones full of marine fossils, Permian tree trunks from Queensland coal mines and sandstone cores from Warragamba Dam. There is no doubt that the two courtyard gardens, established by the Schools of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences, have contributed significantly to the rich diversity of trees on campus and provide a valuable resource for teaching and research.

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