The approach of multilayered plantings continued in the early twentieth century, with substantial formal layouts and re-workings of earlier garden typologies following the First World War.

The twentieth century overlays included a range of exotic palms, particularly the Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis) and Washington Palm (Washingtonia robusta). These species were used in formal, commemorative layouts in places like Jubilee Park in Glebe and Redfern Park in Alexandria.

Throughout the city there are also informal mixed palm layouts, which can be seen at places such as:

Dawes Point Park, The Rocks

Green Park, Darlinghurst

Beare Park, Elizabeth Bay

• Prince Alfred Park, Surry Hills

The multi-layering of public gardens and street tree planting continued throughout the Inter-War period, from 1918 to 1939, and after the end of the second World War from 1945 to the 1960s. Hardy native Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) and Hill’s Weeping Fig (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) and exotic American Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) and London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia) were popular and lasting influences on public landscapes during this period.

Examples can be seen at places such as:

Macleay, Victoria, Tusculum and Manning Streets in Potts Point

Arcadia and Avenue Roads in Glebe

Buckland Street in Alexandria.

Depression impacts on parks

However, the city’s public parkland was increasingly influenced by rapid urban consolidation. The increasing pressure for development and other uses was often unsympathetic to the long-term viability of significant trees.

Resources were stretched, particularly during the Depression, for appropriate management of public spaces and important tree collections. As City parks became the focus for various unemployment schemes, many trees were removed and others added.

This ad-hoc approach to the design and management of public parkland and the valuable collections of trees continued for much of the period from the end of World War Two to the 1960s.

Mid-century bush trend

During the 1940s and 1950s, native gardens were embraced and promoted by people such as Betty Maloney, Jean Walker and Edna Walling. The bush gardens movement laid the foundations for a popular new Australian garden style. This philosophy became part of a broader focus on global and local environmental issues during the 1960’s to 1970’s.

The native garden style was adapted for the City’s parks and streetscapes, creating a new ‘bush’ aesthetic in the city. Since the early 1970s, there were plantings of now ubiquitous eucalypts (Eucalyptus spp. and Corymbia spp.), paperbarks (Melaleuca spp.), she-oaks (Casuarina spp.), wattles (Acacia spp.) and bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.).

This group of native trees attracted possibly the widest public interest during the nomination process for the Register. In our parks, these indigenous trees have continued to shape and impact on older historic collections. Some plantings have adversely affected the integrity of heritage landscapes.

During the 1980’s, numerous mature specimen palms were translocated for the Darling Harbour redevelopment, with an ‘instant landscape’ overlaying an important part of Sydney’s early maritime and foreshore history. Although some were nursery trees, mature figs and exotic palms were also brought from places with their own social, aesthetic and historic significance, perhaps diminishing the heritage of these areas.

While mature Cabbage Palms (Livistona australis) were previously taken from the wild, many of these palms and other trees are now relocated from Roads and Maritime sites, major forestry projects or development sites where they would otherwise have been destroyed.