Sunday, 12 April 2009

Old trees...

There was an article in The Age the other day -11th April-about an old mulberry tree in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern which was grown from a cutting taken from a tree George Bernard Shaw planted Malvern UK in 1936. The cutting has prospered but the original was blown down in a storm. There are now intentions of replacing the original with a cutting from the cutting.

In the way these things do, it reminded me of a feast I had as a child in a mulberry tree, the oldest exotic tree in South Australia, a mulberry tree planted in 1836 at Reeves Point near Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. This tree is now approaching its 175th anniversary and is still fruiting. That particular day the neighbour's sons, my brother and I spent several hours eating mulberries. We ate so many our mouths were purple it seems now for days. None of us ate too many, it's not possible to eat too many mulberries. Fruit was expensive in the late 50s, so a free feed was that, and very welcome. (Crayfish were expensive too, my father used to buy them from the fishermen for ten bob, big ones, the size they no longer grow.) There's a nice picture of the Kangaroo Island tree on Google Earth.

This Yorke Peninsula mulberry tree is also connected to me, although I have nevereaten fruit from it.
This tree would probably predate the Shaw tree mentioned above. The ruin behind the tree is my paternal grandfather's house, built of stone found on the land, plugged together with sand and cement. My family occupied the land in 1912 and left after the banks terminated their mortgage in the early 1930s. The house, and my great grandmother's neighbouring house were built by my grandfather and his brother. The trees are now neglected.
Lichen, dry at the time of my visit, encrusts the bark on the south side of the tree.

The tree is in a small patch of ground which hasn't been ploughed since the land was built on, hence it is grassy, with weedy species like wild oats. The large object behind is a piece of an old water tank.
This tree is still fruiting too. The picture was taken in the spring of 2007. It appears from the date it was very late at night, an indication of bad photographic process more likely: I didn't turn off the date/time stamp. I took a few cuttings from the tree to try and strike them, but it was too late in the spring. This year I will be back in the same are and will take some more.


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