Everyone knows history is the domain of fusty, mouldy old books written by professors! At least that is how fresh-faced year sevens see historians. Don’t get me wrong. I won’t denigrate the realm of the past. In fact one of the gardeners at Elizabeth Park, Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden directed a visitor to what he called a massive branched Pine tree across the road. It was only later when he was knocking off for the day that he realised the Pine tree in front of the Aged Facility corner of Coronation Drive and Windsor Parade was in fact gone!
What a shock. Memory leant towards him to remind him the Pine tree had been removed with a chain-saw buzzing some three years previously. The past can loom so real as to seem like the present. Our dear gardener recalled looking over the top of his ladder and enjoying the gigantic umbrella-like spread of the branches. This was the key to the tree’s identity: Stone Pine (Pinus pinea). Origin southern Europe, particularly Italy. We have some around No.1 oval in Victoria Park. These Stone Pines would have been a familiar sight from the top parapet of turreted Orsini castle of Bracciano in year 1500 when Madonna Felice (pronounced Feh-lee-chay in Italian), daughter of Pope Julius 11, was a teenager peering towards the distance, as she wondered what her future would be. That’s right, daughter of the Pope.
Felice della Rovere was fortunate (as in fact the name felice means) to be raised in a loving family even though she was illegitimate. Few would anticipate how powerful she herself was to become. Some historians rank her equal with Queen Elizabeth 1 of England. At that time the issue of cleric indiscretions were anonymously sent to a convent with no tell-tale name tag attached to the cradle and no chance of a periphery son or daughter deposing an incumbent heir to power. Felice was an exception. The old gardener at Elizabeth Park often imagines her smiling face as he turns the soil. Few would know about her today. Not many people would recall the massive Stone Pine of Coronation Drive except the old gardener in his muddy work boots.