Native Trees

October 13, 2007

FromĀ  A. G. Stephens, ‘Introduction’, in The Bulletin Book (Sydney, 1901)

Englishmen have been permitted even to denounce the gum-tree, the most picturesque tree that grows, always at ease and unconventional. To see the many-bosomed gum-tree moving in a breeze (that gum-tree shaped like a soaring parachute made of a score of minor parachutes which lift and strain as if eager to be off and up); to watch the shifting interspaces of sky when amber days or purple nights play hide-and-seek among the wayward branches, and to listen to the birdlike murmur of the leaves, almost a twittering; – this is to receive an aesthetic education. Yet Englishmen persist in bringing hither their dense, sombre trees which defy even an Australian sun-ray, which almost disdain to ruffle in an Australian breeze – trees with the heavy magnificence of an English dinner, and often as dull; – and they call upon us to admire these unnatural exotics!