Page 3909 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional custodians, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Death of Dr Robert Boden OAM

Motion of condolence

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Dr Robert Boden OAM, former Director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, a life dedicated to trees and the amenity of horticulture, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues in their bereavement.

For more than half a century, Dr Robert Boden dedicated himself to the study and protection of trees. His legacy is evident everywhere we look around us in the national capital, in any direction. And his legacy will endure, long after this generation of our urban forest has gone, in the form of his pioneering work on the conservation of threatened species. Dr Robert Boden’s death late last month has deprived our community of a champion of the natural environment and an inheritor of the scientific and horticultural tradition begun in this territory by figures such as Weston and Pryor.

On behalf of the ACT government, I convey my condolences to his wife, Susan Parsons, his former wife, Anne McDonald, his children, David and Susan, and their families.

Robert Boden came to Canberra in 1955. From his base at Yarralumla Nursery, he began extensive surveys of and studies into Canberra’s parks and reserves. A year after his arrival, he completed a diploma of forestry at the Australian Forestry School in Yarralumla. It was the start of a long scholarly engagement with a subject that had captured his heart. He was later awarded a Master of Science degree from the University of Sydney for his research into why some species of eucalypt cope with waterlogged soil conditions while most do not.

Robert Boden’s early work in propagating and trialling exotic and indigenous vegetation led him to develop a new freefall cultivar of the well-known pin oak. Unlike old-style pin oaks, which retain their dead foliage over winter until the old leaves are pushed off by new growth in the spring, the new cultivar behaved like most other deciduous trees, properly defoliating after its brilliant autumn colours faded.

The development of this cultivar was born out of Robert Boden’s own observations that certain specimens of pin oak naturally lost their leaves. He took cuttings of these specimens and grew them in a trial plot at Yarralumla Nursery. From these trees, buds were taken and grafted onto regular pin oak seedlings. So began the first trial of what became the freefall cultivar, which defoliates on cue in autumn. Wholly developed right here in Canberra, based on Canberra research, the freefall cultivar is now grown

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