Garden Photo of the Day

Growing a Living Fossil

Cultivating a species that everyone thought was extinct

Today’s photos come from Claudia Tregoning in Springfield, South Australia.

This is my Wollemi pine, now 2.4m tall. The Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) is the botanical world’s find of the century. This evergreen species is 200 million years old, but was thought to be extinct until it was found, accidentally, on 10 September 10 1994 by David Noble whilst bushwalking in Australia’s Wollemi National Park, 200km north of Sydney. This species is named after him, and its location in Australia’s Blue Mountains.

Having illustrated many plants and being interested in anything new, I awaited a Wollemi of my own. Then, more than 15 years ago, I was one of the lucky few to first to purchase this rare plant at my local garden center, complete with verification certificate of authenticity. It was then only about 15 cm tall. The Wollemi Organization is raising funds to conserve this special piece of botany. By selling them and having them in different sites or gardens around Australia—with exposure to many environmental conditions—the Wollemi Organization hopes that this will ensure that the species is protected from extinction.

The Wollemi pine requires little to look after. It likes rainwater when dry, but it needs protection by some dappled shade, and not any full sun. The conditions in South Australia can be erratic—very hot one day and cold the next—and this plant does not show any stress or change.

There are only about 100 Wollemi pines known in the wild, although I have read that a few more have now been located at the Wollemi National Park, 200 km north of Sydney, in inhospitable terrain. This would be the reason this lovely evergreen is still in existence today. It was awaiting rediscovery and never really went away over its 200 million years.

Claudia is an illustrator, and she sent in this beautiful drawing of her Wollemi pine.

In Claudia’s garden, the lush growth provides the light shade the Wollemi pine needs.

Clivia miniata is familiar as a houseplant for those of us in cold climates, but in places that don’t frost, it can be grown outside as a garden perennial.

One last view of Claudia’s garden.


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View Comments


  1. LauraJaneS 09/16/2019

    Super interesting story Claudia - thanks for sharing. Good luck with your Wallemi pine! I imagine not being able to tolerate full sun rules out a lot of the country for this tree. I miss the beautiful flora and fauna of Australia especially that we are coming into fall and the emptiness of winter isn't that far off.

  2. cheryl_c 09/16/2019

    This portrait of a slice of botanical history is a great way to start the week! Thanks so much for sending in something a bit different to add some new flavors to our morning viewing! I especially loved the photo of the pine silhouetted against the sky.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 09/16/2019

    At first I thought it was the "Dawn Redwood" you were going to talk about being extinct- but yet another interesting story of discovery! I've never heard of the Wallemi Pine until your story here. I like your garden, so full of interesting plants, and love that gorgeous garden urn! Wondering what that purple blooming bush is...maybe Rose of Sharon? or something else? So interesting to learn about the once believed to be extinct Wallemi pine.

  4. [email protected] 09/16/2019

    Delightfully different offering today. Thanks for an interesting bit of new information- and your Clivia is very striking!

  5. geeth 09/17/2019

    Thanks for this variety of ideas. I would like to put it into the front portion of my apartments in Calicut.

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