Faced with wide, dusty streets in summer and quagmire in winter, the founding fathers were prompted to provide two key elements to the town- shade and suppression of dust.
Today, everyone loves Lilydale’s streets during the hot summers because of the wonderful shade they give. In the era of green house emissions, our trees certainly help the planet even if in just a small way.
To date the earliest organised tree plantings in Lilydale we have found were in 1884.
“Cr David Mitchell of Cave Hill Quarry, the Lillydale Shire President, offered to provide £10 towards tree planting along Lilydale’s main road. Other councillors explored his offer but found the state nursery did not have any suitable trees so they decided to purchase elms instead. The costs of planting and purchasing the 30 trees would cost £15 so the councillors asked if they could get a shire grant for the difference. The president however, increased his donation to cover the additional amount.” (1)
“Ornamental tree-planting in Main-street was commenced yesterday.” (July 10, 1884). (2)
00021 Pen and ink drawing of Lilydale’s Main Street
looking northeast towards The Towers.
Arbor Day Committee
However, it took the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign to prompt the formation of Lilydale’s Arbor Day Committee and the comprehensive annual planting of the town’s streets with large, shady trees.
1897 Queen’s Jubilee Avenue
“From first light willing hands were at work sinking holes for the reception of the trees.
Before noon the most laborious portion was completed. All along the line about 100 guards were placed in readiness. Holes had been dug and guards erected to accommodate about 80 trees.”
The trees planted were oak, elms, plane and possibly pines.
Shortly before 11am the first tree was planted at the Olinda Creek Bridge. The second was planted on the opposite side of the Road. (4)
In conclusion councillor Smith said he did not know whether to name the avenue the “Queen’s” or the “Jubilee” avenue. Councillor G.R. White suggested that it should be both and the President with much rejoicing declared the name to be “Queen’s Jubilee Avenue”.
The first trees were planted on Wednesday June 23 and the remaining trees on Wednesday June 30 due to the town’s half day Wednesday holiday. The trees were planted from the Olinda Creek to the railway line and from the railway line to Cave Hill Road. (5)
Various tree plantings of Lilydale’s Main Street over the years created the Queen’s Jubilee Avenue stretching from Cave Hill Road to the Warburton Trail bridge east of the township.
In 1898 trees were planted on Wednesday June 15. The first tree planted a chestnut at the Supple’s Blacksmith corner and second at B. Morey & Co’s corner (both Castella and Main streets). A total of 53 holes were dug. Mr Janson inspected last year’s trees and found few had failed to survive and these were replaced. (6)
In 1900 Lilydale’s Arbor Day celebrated the Relief of Mafeking with the planting of an oak the Exegit monumentum aerc perennius. This was followed by 50 holes sunk in Castella Street from the Lilydale Express to the Church of England (ie Chapel to Jones streets) The trees planted were oaks and elms. (7)
In 1901, the Arbor Day Committee decided that tree planting, which will be continued in Clarke Street, will commence at 8am.(8)
In 1902, 50 oak trees were planted in Cave Hill Road. The seventh annual arbor day was held at Lilydale on Wednesday. Trees are now planted in all the town’s principle streets.(9)
In 1903, the seventh anniversary of Arbor Day was celebrated on Wednesday last. Three trees were planted and guards erect in Main street opposite the business places of Mrs Tait and Mr Hamblin (just east of the Olinda Creek on the south side).
Twenty guards were removed by Mr Janson from the west side of the railway in Main Street to Anderson Street, near the Convent, where Mr L. Flannagan planted a like number of trees and re-erected the guards (plane trees that are currently there).” (10)