T. C. G. Weston (1866-1935), horticulturist and arboriculturist : a critical review of his contribution to the establishment of the landscape foundations of Australia's National Capital

  • John Edmund Gray

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    My thesis research concerns Thomas Charles George Weston (1866-1935). Its principal focus is his landscape vision for Australia's national capital in its founding days and his innovative horticultural and arboricultural work in that vision's execution. Between 1913 and 1926 his work involved reversing, by afforestation planting and conservation measures, the existing process of degradation of the site's landscape. He also achieved for the new city a densely planted landscape using indigenous and exotic trees and shrubs. Weston's pioneering work made a significant contribution to Canberra's contemporary 'city in the landscape' image. Part of my research is about understanding the context of Weston's earlier professional experiences in Britain and New South Wales in the period 1878 to 1912. A brief insight into his personal life and career shows how the people he worked for, the skills he acquired, and the type of landscapes he worked in shaped his approach to his landscape activity at Canberra. Of particular note are the valuable influences of David Thomson and Joseph Maiden, respected figures in botany and horticulture in Britain and Australia respectively. My research on Weston's achievements in Canberra demonstrates his technical and professional thoroughness. I have documented all his work on a project-by-project basis to provide accurate reference material for on-going professional practice and research. His afforestation and conservation work from 1913 onwards and his urban planting in the crucial 1921 to 1926 period reflects the depth of his training and skills and understanding of landscape. Analyses of disputes between Weston and others including Walter Burley Griffin demonstrate the soundness of his professional judgment. I have concluded that Charles Weston had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve, the necessary skills and experience to achieve that vision and a thorough understanding of the national capital site. He also possessed the necessary personal qualities to achieve his vision which responded sensitively to the aspirations of Australians for their national capital. Largely because of Weston Canberra will remain a highly significant step in the development of Australian landscape architecture.
    Date of Award1999
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKen Taylor (Supervisor) & Judith Brine (Supervisor)

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