Michael Leunig, well-known Australian cartoonist of Mr Curly, ducks, teapots, trees and poet of whimsical ideas, has planted a rare Saharan Cypress commemorative tree at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of the Gardens said:
“Mr Leunig was suggested by many Melburnians as someone we should honour in our commemorative tree planting to celebrate those who have made a long-lasting contribution to Melbourne’s cultural life. Michael’s witty and whimsical drawings and social commentary over the past 50 years have amused us and challenged our humanity. His regular references to trees and nature in his pictures and writings are a gentle reminder to us of our place in the world and our connection to nature”
Planted by Michael Leunig as part of the Victoria’s Cultural Commemorative Tree planting program, the Saharan cypress, Cupressus dupreziana, from the Saharan desert is the first of its genus to be planted in the Gardens. Although Prof Entwisle says that he was tempted to choose a tree with a curly form, the Saharan cypress should thrive in our changing climate.
Leunig commented that:
“We need more trees, they are our friends. I have planted thousands of them. I grew up in the treeless western suburbs of Melbourne and at an early age became a nocturnal guerrilla tree planter, in a youthful attempt to beautify my country. A few of them still survive providing shade and beauty and resting places for the birds.
Now thanks to the Royal Botanic Gardens, I discover the extraordinary Saharan Cypress and it is a great pleasure to plant this rare tree which may indeed become an admirable and useful species to our country in this changing climatic environment”
The tree is marked with a special plaque featuring Leunig’s Mr Curly.