How we adore the Jacaranda
Words by Linda Ross
In early November, Australia’s oldest floral festival culminates during a street procession down Main Street. Grafton’s Jacaranda festival has been uplifting community spirits since 1934. You’ll see 60 floats, and a crowned Jacaranda Queen and Princess, while a flotilla of purple descends upon the city’s streets, parks and gardens.
From Grafton to Goulburn, a haze of mauve spreads. Streets are painted purple with fallen blossoms; slippery carpets are rolled out for children to frolic in, as we celebrate the arrival of summer. It coincides with cacophony of cicadas, end-of-year-exams and a Ross Family a rush of birthdays!
Many think Jacaranda are so widespread they have to be a native to Australia. But they’re native to Brazil, and have been widely planted throughout the subtropical and warm temperate zones of the world such as Mexico, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Seville, Cuba, Jamaica and Australia.
Although Grafton is the epicentre of the Jacaranda appreciation in Australia, many towns and villages have Jacaranda-lined streets. Search out stunning examples in Sydney’s north shore and harbour suburbs such as Kurraba Road, Kirribilli; The Rocks and Paddington and tops suburban examples in Hogben Park and Frys Reserve, Kogarah and Lane Cove. Victoria’s Red Cliffs, part of the Calder Highway, was named Jacaranda Street in the original town plans of the early 1920s when Jacaranda trees were planted along this street. Look out in Ipswich in South East Queensland, particularly along the Bremer River, for outstanding Jack viewing opportunities. In Brisbane the trees are most notable in a long curved avenue in New Farm Park in Goodna, while the Perth suburb of Applecrosshas its own tree-lined vistas.
Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) is a genus of 49 species of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae which also includes plants with tubular flowers like the African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata), trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), trumpet tree (Tabebuia) and Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis).
Jacarandas are particularly beautiful from the harbour during our annual Jacaranda Cruises, and we touch on why so many of these trees were planted in
Sydney (it had something to do with certain maternity nurses giving them away with every child born in the Sutherland and Ryde hospitals!)
But just one tree can make a huge impact. When planted in the middle of a lawn, stretching their boughs to 10m, they became a good shade tree perfect for climbing and their fallen flowers are a constant enjoyment to children who love to play in that four-week-purple-carpet-window.
We just love it when the seasons and rain coincides, planets align, for our Melbourne Cup Trifecta. No money exchanges for this trifecta – three brightly coloured subtropical flowering trees – flowering in unison. The purple Jacaranda and its two audacious Australian companions – the golden Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) and the red Flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolia) make such a bold splash across Sydney. Nothing gives me a shiver of excitement about the beginning of summer than to catch an incidental vista of these three trees in the suburbs of Sydney.
Come see Sydney harbour in full jacaranda-fringed glory next November on one of our annual Jacaranda Cruises. This year’s cruises were the most spectacular days on Sydney Harbour we’ve seen in years. They were so popular this year that we have decided to offer seats for the 2017 cruises right now – the perfect Christmas gift for the garden lover in your life. But don’t be disappointed – seats are limited. Call Royce or Roslyn at Ross Tours today on 1300 233 200, or go to the Ross Tours website and book your seat today.