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50 years on, a Prince honours his grandfather

Almost fifty years after His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia visited the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, his grandson, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, returned to Melbourne Gardens on Friday to honour the visit.

Commemorative trees were planted on both occasions with HIH Prince Ermias planting a Pinus coulteri (Big Cone Pine) on Eastern Lawn, 150 metres from where his grandfather planted a Blue Atlas Cedar on 16 May 1968.

The commemorative spade used by Emperor Haile Selassie, one of 13 spades held in the State Botanical Collection, as well as a spade inscribed with HIH Prince Ermias’ name, were used in Friday’s planting ceremony.

The Pinus coulteri planted by the Prince will add to the collection of commemorative trees in Melbourne Gardens dating back to the late 1800s. These plantings have traditionally honoured dignitaries including peers and titled individuals, but in more recent years the program has been broadened to honour individuals who have made a long-lasting contribution to the cultural life of Australia.

Since the program began in the late 1800s, over 100 commemorative trees have been planted in Melbourne Gardens. Not all the trees have survived, but the Blue Atlas Cedar planted by Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1968 is thriving on Eastern Lawn.

Pinus coulteri is a coniferous evergreen tree which grows up to 24 metres. A native of the coastal areas of Southern California and Mexico, it is distinctive for its large shiny pine cones, the largest cones of the Pinus species.

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