Empty Adelaide Hills paddock hides trailblazing horticulture history

ABC Radio Adelaide

By Spence Denny

Posted

May 21, 2018 11:42:19

Photo:
More than 5,000 trees were planted in perfect rows 3.6 metres from one another. (Supplied: Mylor History Group)
(ABC Radio Adelaide: Spence Denny) (ABC Radio Adelaide: Spence Denny)
It was an initiative of Adelaide Botanic Gardens director Dr MW Holtze and consisted of more than 5,000 symmetrically planted trees.Varieties of apple, pear, plum, stone fruit, persimmon, nut, olive and berry were among chosen species with the intention to determine their suitability for commercial production.Dignitaries including the premier, the minister for agriculture and senior bureaucrats visited the site in 1899 to inspect progress and were so impressed they adjourned to the Aldgate Hotel and toasted its success.Those celebrations proved premature however, because by 1911 the ravages of a Mylor winter and poor soil took a toll on the trees and the experiment was abandoned. Photo:
The type orchard provided work for local pioneering families. Photo:
This persimmon is one of the surviving fruit trees. It’s taken longer than normal but autumn has finally arrived in South Australia, attracting nature lovers to the Adelaide Hills and its avenues of red and gold European trees.A near-empty paddock at Mylor will likely be ignored by passing day trippers, but the state owes much of its horticultural success to this patch of land once planted with a veritable fruit salad of trees.The 6.9-hectare area between the Onkaparinga River and Mylor Conservation Park was a type orchard established three decades after South Australia’s proclamation. (Supplied: Mylor History Group)
Some of the trees were relocated where they thrived and other areas of the Adelaide Hills were identified as more suitable for fruit trees.A number of reminders of this unique part of South Australia’s history including a gnarly mulberry, a sprawling pear, a persimmon and some remnant buildings have survived.For those driving the Hills to take in the glorious view of deciduous trees in all their splendour, spare a thought for the occasional empty paddock.Its history may be more splendid than you think. Photo:
A remnant pear tree fenced off to protect it from predators.
Map:
Mylor 5153