Sunday, 26 July 2009

A Different Kind of Commemorative Rose


Another weekend with the Armed Services. A few weeks ago it was the Reserve Forces on parade in the Domain. Today it was the dedication of the NSW Korean War Memorial in Moore Park, and there is a botanical link.

Minister Graham West (as Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans' Affairs) was joined by Don Rowe (President of the NSW RSL, and known to us at the Botanic Gardens through the dedication of the Domain Memorial Wall and the repair of the Morshead Fountain), Mr Yang Kim (Minister for Patriots and Veterans Affairs, Republic of Korea) and other representatives of the Korean government and Korean war societies in Korea and Australia.

The botany? Well the Memorial consists of a stone wall around scattered Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, the national flower of the Republic of Korea) in steel and bronze. Each flower represents a NSW soldier who died in the Korean Ware 1950-53. In the centre are two large granite stones from a quarry in Kapyong, a significant battle site in Korea. Eleven concrete 'blades' are interspersed with the hibiscus flowers, one for each of the battles in which Australian soldiers played an important role.

It's an impressive and evocative memorial, thanks to the design tallents of Jane Cavanough from Artlandish Art and Design, along with Pod Landscape Architecture.

You won't see many Rose of Sharon hibiscus in gardens around Sydney (although correct me if I'm wrong - I know we have grown it at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the past). Jerry Colby-Williams (in an online item from Gardening Australia) notes that 'rivalling the heat-loving hibiscus is the Rose of Sharon (H. syriacus), a cold-hardy, deciduous shrub or small tree'. I note that this follows a recommendation to visit Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens in summer to see rare (heat-loving) hibiscus species.
It's also worth noting that the common name Rose of Sharon is also applied to Hypericum calycinum, Lilium candidum and Tulipa agenensis subsp. boissieri, being cited in a nice little article on our website as an example of how common names can sometimes mislead.

I've mentioned before the botanical connections developing between Korea and Australia. Today was a demonstration of the strong bonds that already exist between the two countries, rising of course out of adversity.

Thanks to the Landscapedia website for the picture of the Rose of Sharon.

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