This group of informally planted mature Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla) are all relatively small specimens with a height range of 12-15 metres, canopy spread of 15-20 metres and trunk diameter at one metre above the ground of 0.7-1.0 metre.
All figs are in generally fair to good condition with some dead wood in the crowns and minor pruning evident. The figs display a typically stunted growth pattern. It is likely that the Hawkesbury sandstone substrate is very close to the surface in this location and the conditions of low nutrient value, restricted soil moisture capacity together with periodic and prolonged periods of drought have effectively stunted the overall scale and proportions of these very old trees.
As a group, these trees have significance at the City/ LGA level, in terms of their historic, visual, and botanic values.
Argyle Place Park is of great historic significance. It is scheduled in the City of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012, Sydney City Heritage Study and classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW). The park retains important remnant fabric from the mid 19th century period including this stand of three Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla), possibly dating from the late 1860’s.
Argyle Place Park takes its name from the county of Argyll, the home county of Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Argyle Cut, which provided better access between The Rocks and Millers Point was commenced in 1843. With the completion of Argyle Cut in 1859 the four main principal streets in Millers Point, Argyle, Kent, Windmill and Fort Streets formed the nucleus of the village with the centre being the park reserve of Argyle Place.
In the 1860’s the City Council undertook major civic works in Observatory Park, completing terracing, steps and retaining walls in 1866. Argyle Place was dedicated as a reserve for public recreation in 1867. A dwarf wall was built around the reserve in 1868 (SMH 4 May 1868). It is believed that Argyle Place was landscaped and planted by the Double Bay nurseryman and landscape gardener Michael Guilfoyle ( R.Clough’ Michael Guilfoyle, Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens, 2002).
Argyle Place figs are visually part of a group of Moreton Bay Figs located in Argyle Street adjacent to this park (refer to Listing 2.04).Moreton Bay Figs were also planted in a number of other locations in this precinct including Observatory Park and the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and S H Ervin Gallery property (refer to Listings 2.02 & 2.09). The component planting of native rainforest specimens and broadleaf exotics in Argyle Place Park possibly date from the latter part of the nineteenth century as part of further park embellishment or tree replacement programs. In 1936 it was reported that Moreton Bay figs in Argyle Place were being cut down by the City Council and only 3 of 12 trees were to be left (SMH 4 June 1936, p.16).