Mission to save weird tree

Cr Anthony Aitken provides some TLC for a bottle tree at damaged by strong winds at Geelong Botanic Gardens.

A bizarrely-shaped bottle tree at Geelong Botanic Gardens is undergoing repairs after strong winds split the unique specimen down the middle recently.

Decay within the trunk, possibly rot in a smaller split, caused the bottle tree (brachychiton rupestris) to become vulnerable to high winds and storm conditions.

Geelong Botanic Gardens coordinator Ashley Filipovski said gardens staff were attempting to save the tree by pinning it together and treating its wounds.

“We have recovered bottle trees with splits in the past, but none as severe as this one,” Mr Filipovski said.

“A boiler maker at the city’s Corio depot has constructed the large metal pin clamp that will pull the split together. Arborists have trimmed the canopy to reduce stress on the split.

“It will be a matter of wait and see.”

Workers will tighten the steel clamp weekly to encourage the tree to mend itself. The clamp will become a permanent addition to the tree to ensure it is structurally sound.

Staff have also applied a fungicide to help with any associated fungal diseases.

The gardens purchased several of the Queensland bottle trees as part of the 21st Century Garden upgrade in 2001 and 2002.

Geelong council gardens chair Anthony Aitken described the method to save the tree as “clever”.

“We will all be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this operation,” Cr Aitken said.

“I hope the repair is successful and this beautiful specimen is saved.”

The damaged bottle tree is the largest of the garden’s ten bottle trees at the front gates of the garden.