The village of Leura in the upper Blue Mountains is famous for its main street avenue of flowering cherry trees. However, even higher up there is Blackheath, with its own very special ‘cherry walk.’
From the Lithgow Mercury on October 12 1953;
In 1953, the women residents of Park Avenue in the Blue Mountains village of Blackheath decided their street needed a little beautification. Let’s face it, the very word ‘avenue’ suggests a tree lined promenade. Perhaps they also felt a duty to live up to the glorious rhododendron trees just across the road in Memorial Pak. The rhodos had been planted by locals in 1923, to honour those who served in WWI. They are still a wonder to behold.
CHERRY TREES FOR CHOICE
£2 was collected from each householder to pay for 60 well advanced, flowering cherry trees. The local council had agreed to dig the holes. However, as the year progressed council advised that their employees were too busy to complete the work before the end of the year. Well this just wasn’t good enough!
It seems that Mesdames Mary Houen and Doreen Clement were the driving force behind the initiative, and they hastily organized a meeting. There was only one solution really; to dig the holes themselves.
Each hole needed to be three feet deep and three feet in circumference. On October 11 the women armed themselves with picks, crowbars, mattocks and shovels and set to work, assisted by their children.
Mrs Houen said, ‘The women have worked tirelessly and proved that they were able to dig through what an alderman described as rocky ground.’
I live and garden nearby, so I can vouch for the fact that it’s rocky! I build walls from the stones I unearth.
The trees were planted the following day. Sixty five years on the branches are gnarled and covered in lichens; beautiful in their own right.
Knot holes have become residences for spiders and other insects…..even Mr and Mrs Shellback.
But there is life in the old cherry trees yet. The sap still runs and every year blossom appears, sometimes in the most unlikely spots.
And how is this for a ‘never-say-die ‘attitude ? Now that is true resilience.
Perhaps Blackheath’s Park Avenue cherries cannot compete with the spectacular show in Leura, but they are a wonderful legacy of the village’s community spirit.
Even the fallen petals have their uses. My Associate Editor Des gathered some to make a romantic floral rug for his girlfriend Milly. By the way, he asked me to say that the ‘L’ badge means he is a learner driver, not a learner lover! Well we can see you know what are doing Des….that pink is a perfect match for her dress.
Of course the trees are equally wonderful in autumn.
I remember carpets similar to this in the homes of elderly relatives.
I wonder whether anyone remembers the great planting day in 1953? The little chap in the photo below might.
I don’t suppose the trees can last forever, but since I am nearly seventy I suspect they will outlive me.