1920-1940s: A tragic death
While the 1920s were a time of growth and development for the Garden, less could be said for the 1930s. The Great Depression and the eventual march to war starved the Garden of funds and a workforce.
One other Garden tragedy would unfold during the 1930s and 1940s that would be – for a time – the talk of the town.
That is, the death of the Wishing Tree.
Originally planted in the Governors private domain at the time of Governor Macquarie, the Norfolk Island Pine that became famous as the Wishing Tree was deemed too large for the Governor’s Garden by Elizabeth Macquarie, and she ordered that it be relocated to the adjacent botanic garden. The tree lasted until 1945 when it eventually failed due to decay.
The cultural significance of the Wishing Tree to the community of Sydney was immense. Rituals had grown up around the tree, with local “dames” (as Joseph Maiden referred to them) entrusting the tree with their deepest wishes and desires. When it was recognised as in terminal decline, a community debate erupted in the local media about what to do.
Eventually a new Norfolk Island Pine was planted in 1935 just a short distance away, and is still in the Garden today.