The largest planting of Australia’s floral emblem, the Golden Wattle, has taken place in Canberra this week to belatedly celebrate the 50th birthday of the Australian National Botanic Gardens in 2020.
Hand grown by members of the Wattle Day Association, the 40 Golden Wattles were planted in a grove in the Acacia Garden, joining 10 that were originally planted at the end of 2020.
Scientifically known as Acacia pycnantha, the Golden Wattle was officially proclaimed the floral emblem of Australia in 1988.
President of the Wattle Day Association, Dr Suzette Searle, said all wattles are the perfect symbol of Australia.
“When the 50th anniversary came up for the Botanic Gardens, we thought what a wonderful gift it would be, the Golden Wattle for the golden anniversary,” she said.
“We were going to give them 50 Golden Wattles … In fact, they want 100 here.”
“I’m surprised how many people don’t actually know that Golden Wattle is our national floral emblem,” she said.
“Golden Wattle has been symbol of Australia for more than a century from when it first appeared in a stylised form on our Commonwealth Coat of Arms in 1912 … Wattles are on our banknotes, wattles are appearing more frequently on our coins, wattles were the inspiration for the Order of Australia.
“It’s bit like it is in the bush; you don’t really realise it’s there until it springs forth in blossom.”
In 1992, Australia’s then Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen proclaimed 1 September to be National Wattle Day for everyone across Australia to celebrate at the same time.
Founded by Jack Fahy, the Wattle Day Association began in Canberra in 1998, in the hope that the Association would help to foster the national celebration.
Wattle Day Association member and horticulturist, Troy Levier, attended the planting with his young daughter, Matilda Rose.
Mr Levier said the invitation to plant trees in the Botanical Gardens was a once in a lifetime opportunity that connects to an important issue.
“It’s quite a significant day and pushing for it to be a uniform day for Australians, first day of spring and Wattle Day, I think is something that moves away from the trouble we’re having with the current date issue for Australia Day,” he said.
“No better day than the first of spring and Wattle Day being our Australian emblem.”
The Wattle Day Association said they will continue to grow Golden Wattles for the Australian National Botanic Gardens for all to enjoy.
While the native plants will take three years to bloom in the Gardens, according to Dave Taylor, Curator of the Living Collections at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, when they do bloom, there will be a “wonderful show of flower”.
“We’ve put them in the ground in a really prominent spot which we’re hoping will engage people with the significance of the plant,” he said.
“They’re a great thing to celebrate,” Dr Searle said.
For more information about the Wattle Day Association, visit wattleday.asn.au