Changing Seasons: January

Cardinal Guzman has put up a photo challenge that seems challenging enough for me as a non-photographer.

He has two versions. I’ve chosen the easy path:

    • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
    • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

This morning I was in the Botanic Gardens here in Canberra and was stopped in my tracks by this Corymbia ficifolia. Family: Myrtaceae. Dwarf orange. Sometimes called Red Flowering Gum.

The Canberra Botanic Garden has nothing but native plants. The gardeners have found ways to grow plants from all parts of Australia, even rainforest plants in a lower part that is reached by stone staircases, a place that’s kept dark and wet to encourage rainforest trees and ferns to grow. And up in the bright sunlight there are trees like this orange Corymbia ficifolia, a native from a small area near Walpole, way down on the very south-west coast of Western Australia, and here it is growing on the opposite side of the country in a different climate. Bravo, Botanic Gardeners!

The photo is my interpretation of January in Australia. Bright orange native flowers, clear blue sky, hot morning.

One trip EVERY month: February

This month I took a trip without leaving town:  my husband and I hopped on our bikes and rode to the National Botanic Gardens.

I posted about the Gardens not long ago, here.  But what I didn’t tell you is that it’s a great place to de-stress.  Just take a look at the Eastern Water Dragon up in the header.  Is he stressed?  Nup.  He strolled up onto the café deck from the forest floor to sun himself, not at all afraid of the visitors.  The dragons are a thrill for café customers taking morning tea.  But of course you can’t go there for coffee and cake and leave without exploring the unique gardens and forests and the comprehensive collection of native Australian plants.

Up in the dry gardens, there are tall eucalyptus trees that are a living support system for other life forms like staghorns and climbing hardenbergia and fungus.  How beautiful are the burnt black and rust tones of the flaky bark on that tree I spotted near the bike racks!  It’s simply nature imitating art.  Down in the rainforest, accessible by timber steps and boardwalks, it’s darker and the atmosphere is noticeably cooler and more humid.  I read the sign telling me to ‘breathe’, and instinctively did.  The air was fresh and cool and clean.  Here, tree ferns and Stream lilies, ‘Helmholtzia glaberrima’, one of the few flowers in these Botanic Gardens, grow in lush gardens beside the stream that flows below the wooden path you’re walking on.  Writing about it makes me want to go there right now.

I wonder where March will take me!

Marianne at East of Málaga came up with this idea of taking a trip every month.  Check out her February trip post to the Rock of Gibraltar.

Weekly photo challenge: Three-picture story

On the lower slopes of Black Mountain in Canberra is a unique form of Botanic Gardens.  The entrance seems to promise a dry native forest, but the gardens offer examples of all kinds of Australian native plants, and nothing but.  We rode our bikes here this morning, and as I walked my bike up the incline of the entrance, I snapped Black Mountain Tower and admired the symmetry of trees either side.  This is Canberra.  The city of symmetry.

Australian National Botanic Gardens, entrance

With many native plants hailing from the warmer tropical parts of the country, it’s tricky to keep them alive here in the cool capital where we have several months of frost and very low temperatures.  Yet, in an old dry eucalypt gully, a rainforest has been developed with the addition of 2,000 misting sprinklers that keep the humidity high and allow specimens from the tropical north to survive.  The rainforest canopy is dense and keeps out any light breeze; the only agitation today is the flitting and scurrying of birds and lizards on the forest floor.

Rainforest boardwalk, Australian National Botanic Gardens

Signs along the rainforest boardwalks say that Australia once looked like this all over, cool and damp, dark green and fungal.  These timber boards are gradually returning to that wilderness state, but as they wear down into a more natural form they make a good canvas for shifting shapes.

Rainforest boardwalk, Botanic Gardens, detail