Mounira Saad noticed a Cedar of Lebanon growing in Sydney's Botanical Gardens and after enquires to authorities there we discovered that only plant of Cedrus libani in the Sydney Botanical Gardens was the one Mounira saw on lawn 53. Unfortunately the gardens don't have a planting date for the specimen on their database. In the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens Nursery there are some young plants of Cedrus libani that were collected in the wild - this means the seed actually came from an area where the plants grow naturally. These plants came from Turkey (8 km north of Pozanti, Taurus) and will eventually be planted out at Tomah and may possibly be planted in Sydney.
Heather Nicholls, the Planning Advisor to Orange City Council has advised us of 11 of the Cedars in the central western NSW city of Orange.
The community of Orange turned out in force on Anzac Day 1923 to plant the Memorial Ave - an avenue of Lebanon Cedar trees planted along both sides of the Bathurst Road from McLachlan Street to the Cemetery Road. As fund raising for the project was generous, the Committee was able to provide additional tree plantings in honour of returned soldiers. The Memorial Avenue being a memorial to service men and women from Orange who died during WWI. In all over 200 trees were planted. The Lebanon Cedar was chosen because it was expected to live for 500 years. Unfortunately progress got in the way and during the 1950s many of the trees were lost to road widening. Only 11 remain.
An enamel plaque went with each tree planting - honouring a serviceman. While some of the plaques survive they are no longer attached to the trees. The official written guide to the Memorial Day survives so there is record of the plantings and those for whom each tree honoured. The surviving trees continue to run the gauntlet of pruning by over zealous electricity authorities and others.
The Society has been in contact with the Ambassador for Lebanon, H.E. Mr. Michel Bitar who has also been endeavouring to locate the 1938 Cedars through contacts in Canberra. Although he has yet to find the location of the 1938 Cedars, he has located a small growing on the lawns of Old Parliament House which we believe were a group presented as part of the 1988 Bicentenary. Mr. Bitar was also able to advise of another specimen growing in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, which appears to be a 19th century planting.
We are awaiting the results of our own enquiries with Environment ACT and other ACT authorities that have responsibility for Canberra parks and gardens, about the location of the Cedars.
Below is a Sydney Morning Herald Article from 1938 on the presentation of the Cedars:
Sydney Morning Herald - Tuesday, August 17, 1938.
Also at the ball there will be a presentation ceremony to the Commonwealth Government from M. Edde, president of the Republic Lebanon, of six six-foot cedar saplings from the historic Lebanon cedar grove, Arz-el-rub (Cedars of God).
This sacred grove goes back 6000 years, and is said to be on the site of King Solomon's temple and from it was taken the wood from which the Phoenician ships were made.
This is only the second occasion on which trees from this grove have been sent as gifts to other countries. The first had gone to White House, at Washington.
The message which accompanied the trees reads: "The Government of the Republic Lebanon presents the Federal Government of Australia with six Arz-el-rub trees as a token of goodwill and appreciation, expressing the hope that they will grow and flourish in Australian soil at Canberra, your beautiful garden city and that they will remain as a perpetual reminder from the oldest to the newest country in the world of a friend ship so close and strong that time will never break."
Originally it was intended that the trees should arrive in time for the Sesqui-Centenary celebrations, but certain transplanting difficulties caused delay and they arrived on July 27, on the Orama and have been cared for at Sans Souci.
The reason that the grove has endured for so long without despoilng, is that it was sacred to three religions, Christian, Mohamed and Hebrew. Conquering Romans and Greeks and later Napoleon passed by them reverently.
Mr. E. J. Harrison, ex-Minister for the Interior, will accept the trees on behalf of the Prime Minister, Mr Lyons. They will occupy about a quarter of an acre of ground at Canberra and will go there next week.
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