The estate was noted for its use of Norfolk Island Pines (Araucaria heterophylla), of which none now exist. The existing mature Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and the American Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) may possibly date from this earlier period in the development of the gardens.
The American Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is an exotic evergreen broadleaf species which has been used extensively in private gardens and public parkland throughout the City of Sydney LGA since the early nineteenth century. Mature specimens growing in the Botanic Gardens and large private estates, such as ‘Craigend’ were described in a number of articles of the NSW Horticultural Magazine, and Gardeners’ and Amateurs’ Calendar Volumes I-II, 1864-65 (Horticultural Society of Sydney). The popularity of this species has continued throughout the twentieth century due to its attractive, dense evergreen foliage and large, white fragrant flowers.
The Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) is an outstanding botanical and landmark specimen of high visual significance, located near the entry off Avenue Road. This tall, emergent pine provides a dramatic sense of scale to the gardens of the college and public streetscape. This species, first described in 1828 (Don, D.) became a very valuable timber tree during colonial period up until the Second World War. This species also became a valued collector’s item in nineteenth century gardens and estates. It is closely related to other native Australian rainforest pines, such as the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) and Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii). It was often planted in mixed groups with these species and the Queensland Kauri Pine (Agathis robusta). This single pine continues an historic thematic planting within the Glebe area and is a specimen of individual local significance.
The Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), located near the entry to Toxteth House, is a specimen of massive scale and proportions. At the time of inspection in spring 2012 it was largely defoliated and appeared to be in a severe state of decline. The introduction of this species in the early nineteenth century as an ornamental exotic has had a profound impact on our natural bushland, gardens and pasturelands. The Camphor Laurel is generally regarded as a vigorous coloniser and weed species throughout its naturalised range from the south coast and Sydney region to the NSW north coast and as far as the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland. Further voluntary colonisation by this species should be controlled within the City of Sydney LGA.
This group of trees is typical of an eclectic Gardenesque style, borrowing on local rainforest species as well as hardy and adaptable exotic species from abroad. As individuals and as a group, these historic elements have local significance in terms of their historic, social and visual values. They continue a thematic style consistent with the local architectural character of Glebe.
The schedule trees may date from early planting and landscaping associated with the original residence (Toxteth Park estate) in the late 1800’s.
St Scholastica’s College (including the Convent), is located on the former Toxteth Park estate, originally owned by the Hon. Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and later by the Allen family. In 1831, Toxteth House was built by John Verge for George Allen. The property, including the original two storey mansion and three storey addition, grounds, walls, gates and chapel. Toxteth Park is significant in its associations with the earliest historical phases of Glebe’s development and the work of John Verge (Toxteth House, built 1831 for George Allen) and later additions by George Allen Mansfield (State Heritage Inventory). The original estate was later subdivided and this portion is now known as St Scholastica’s College and Convent.
In 1865, under the guidance of the Hon. George Allen, this 100 acre estate was transformed with a new orchard (8 acres), pleasure ground (10 acres), kitchen garden (2-3 acres) with the balance left to bushland and grassed paddocks. The original pleasure grounds of the estate were the subject of some criticism during a formal visit by members of the Horticultural Society of Sydney. “[the pleasure grounds] seem to have been fashioned, like the rest of things in the early days of the Colony, without any regard to the picturesque, it having been nothing more than a series of broad walks and lawns and shrubberies” (New South Wales Horticultural Magazine, and Gardeners’ and Amateurs’ Calendar, Horticultural Society of Sydney, Vol.2 1865).