In 1881, one of Christchurch’s oldest trees, a Tasmanian Blue Gum (eucalypts globules), was planted at what is now recorded down as 314 Yaldhurst Road. It is 40 metres tall. This beauty of a landmark has not only survived earthquakes and record-breaking storms but decades of changing tides also known as progress.
The Tasmanian Blue Gum first arrived in New Zealand unintentionally in 1842 at Wairau, near Blenheim. It is believed that seeds were carried over on cargo from visiting Australian ships. Australian miners are also credited for unwittingly carrying seeds from across the Tasman Sea.
Historians have a long debated the arrival of the Blue Gum in Christchurch. The most accepted theory is that seeds were again, accidentally brought into the city with the import of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) Onion seeds in 1851. As the Blue Gums grew on the property of Dr. J.W. Earle in Opawa, it became a guessing game of what the rapid strong growing trees were. Believed to have been English Honey Suckles, an Australian settler, who knew the Blue Gum well, finally solved the mystery.
The second Christchurch property to have a Blue Gum was that of Dr. A.C. Barker (pictured here with his daughter Elizabeth) on the North Western corner of Cathedral Square and Worchester Street. Considered a well known land mark in the city, many of Dr. A. C. Barker’s photos that were taken in his garden included many of Canterbury’s earliest characters posing with this icon – from the New Zealand Anglican Bishop George Selwyn to Christian missionary Tamihana Te Rauparaha. By the 1880’s, with the Doctor long passed away, the tree was removed in the name of progress. But by this time, the Blue Gum was very popular with Cantabs and with the seeds for sale; the Blue Gum became wide spread across Canterbury.