Honouring huggable trees

Our Exceptional Tree Register protects beloved, historic trees for future generations.

The register celebrates special trees that stand on privately-owned or managed land in our city, including those of great age, rare species, outstanding size, particular habitat value or historic significance.

Bishopscourt, the historic East Melbourne residence of Archbishop Philip Freier and Joy Freier, is home to nine of the beautiful and characterful trees listed on the register, which the public can enjoy through tours.

Caroline Hohnen helps care for the garden as part of a group of volunteers, some of whom have been involved since 2001 when the grounds were completely overgrown. We invited Caroline to tell us about a few of her favourite trees on the property.

A gum tree

The red river gum

‘A large Monterey Cypress stands at the south-west corner of the garden, making a dramatic dark statement at the corner of Hotham and Clarendon streets. It’s a very huggable tree,’ Caroline said.

‘However, the best-known and most dramatic of Bishopscourt’s exceptional trees is the large red river gum, which dominates the border along Clarendon Street.

‘Its weeping foliage and grey and white trunk make a focal point when looking from the house to the west. As it stands next to the fence, passers-by also can enjoy its presence.’

When the old eucalypt on the front lawn was removed in 1997 for safety reasons, a replacement was needed. Now a seedling from the mature river red gum is growing vigorously at the top of the lawn.

Other trees in the garden include a glorious, domed Port Jackson fig, and lofty Dutch and English elms, which receive regular attention from arborists and treatment for elm leaf beetle.

‘The garden at Bishopscourt is an amazing space of calm and beauty in the middle of a bustling city. Its trees help to make it so, providing shade, colour, form and habitat,’ Caroline said.

‘Melbourne wouldn’t be Melbourne without its fully mature trees. Trees help clean the air and provide shade in our hot summers.’

To find out more, visit Exceptional Tree Register.

Fast fact
It’s not only trees in grand gardens that are listed on the Exceptional Tree Register. You can nominate any tree on private land. Listed trees are protected and a permit is needed to remove them or to undertake works that might affect their health or condition. The second round of nominations for the Exceptional Tree Register is open now and closes on 15 March.

Did you know
Young, mature and even dead trees all play an important role in our urban ecosystems and provide crucial habitat resources for wildlife. We work hard to care for trees throughout their life cycle, make sure they’re safe for the community to enjoy, and plant new trees to cultivate our future urban forest.