Plants at Barangaroo Reserve

The award-winning native garden at Barangaroo Reserve is a unique achievement.

Explore Barangaroo Reserve, a unique native parkland in Sydney's CBD boasting more than 75,000 native trees and shrubs on a re-created harbour headland.

Barangaroo Reserve is a unique and inviting Sydney Harbour headland park – right on the edge of the central business district.

The Reserve boasts more than 75,000 native trees and shrubs on an impressive, re-created headland. Beneath the award-winning landscaping lies the Cutaway, Sydney’s newest cultural space.

The parkland at Barangaroo Reserve is a unique achievement. No-one has ever sought to plant more than 75,000 native trees and shrubs - including mature specimens that are more than 20 years old - on an artificially created hill and foreshore.

As Clarence Slockee, horticulturalist and educator who is also Team Leader, Visitor Services Guides at Barangaroo, says: "The iconic sandstone formation of the Sydney basin has created a unique ecology in and around Sydney Harbour. And the re-imagined landscape of Barangaroo Reserve provides the only truly native flora experience."

The planting involved 84 different species that were native to the Sydney region at the time of European settlement. Choosing those plants was largely the work of Stuart Pittendrigh, an acclaimed horticulturalist and landscape architect who specialises in Sydney’s native botanic species.

In 2010, Pittendrigh was invited by the then Barangaroo Delivery Authority to join the team creating the design by celebrated American landscape architect Peter Walker in association with local partners Johnson Pilton Walker. Pittendrigh spent weeks researching what plants were growing around Sydney Harbour’s foreshore in 1788 when the First Fleet arrived.

Plants at Barangaroo include 14 species of native trees, palms and tree ferns - including 713 mature trees; 25 species of native groundcover, vine, grass and fern; 45 species of native shrubs, small trees and Macrozamias.

Only five of the 84 species were not native to Sydney Harbour. Four of those were chosen because they are iconic plants of the Sydney basin: Spotted gum, Gymea Lily, Sydney Blue Gum and Water Gum. The other late addition was a bottle brush, Callistemon citrinus, “Anzac” - an appropriate gesture given Barangaroo Reserve opened during the centenary of Gallipoli.

“The re-imagined landscape of Barangaroo Reserve provides the only truly native flora experience around Sydney Harbour.”

Because the Authority wanted Barangaroo Reserve to open in 2015 with maximum visual impact, 16 mature fig trees from southern Queensland and 89 cabbage tree palms were transplanted into the park.

The remaining trees, bushes and plants were grown under special conditions at the Andreasens Green wholesale nursery at Mangrove Mountain on the Central Coast. It was chosen partly because the landscape and climate is similar to that at Barangaroo Reserve. The plants were grown under specialist conditions - including a custom-made potting mix devised by soil scientist Simon Leake.

Before each tree left Mangrove Mountain for Barangaroo, 31 plant quality control items had to be satisfied. The attention proved invaluable. Pittendrigh says between 10-15% of plants are usually lost on a project this big, yet the failure at Barangaroo Reserve was just one per cent.

Planting at Barangaroo Reserve started in February 2014. The final tree - a Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) - was planted on Walumil Lawns on 28 July 2015, before the Reserve opened to the public on 22 August.

Since 2015, more than 60 extra mature trees have been added on Stargazer Lawn to provide additional shade and protection, including Morton Bay Figs, Grey Gums, Red Gums and Scribbly Gums. See the list of plant species at Barangaroo Reserve.

The ABC TV's Gardening Australia program visited Clarence Slockee at Barangaroo Reserve in April 2017. Watch it now.