Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Holiday break

I know February is a shortish month, even with that extra leap day added this year, but here we are with no posts whatsoever last month. During these most humid and uncomfortable last weeks of summer, Pammy and I found time to enjoy a little holiday break, seeing friends in Brisbane and visiting lots of art galleries as well.

The last few times we've stayed in Brisbane we've rented a serviced apartment across the road from the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, and a day spent there is always a treat for both of us. So that's mostly what this blog posting is about.

One wonderful thing about visiting a subtropical garden such as Brisbane's is the chance to enjoy the lushness of growth here, the different colours, and the spectacular trees. However, for starters, here's a planting which is perfectly possible to grow much further south. These canna lilies in two different colourways, mass-planted, are helpfully backlit by the morning sunshine. (I think the foreground ones are 'Tropicanna' and the background ones are 'Bengal Tiger' but I could be wrong, as they weren't labelled.)  

Another sight you can enjoy all along the East Coast, not just the subtropics, is the calm presence of an Eastern Water Dragon sunning itself on a palm trunk. 

Colvillea racemosa, or Colville's glory, a delicious spot from which a bossy noisy miner could keep a lookout for other birds wandering onto its aggressively guarded territory.

Originally from India, this is the very large bloom of Dillenia indica ...

... and these are the cricket ball sized fruits which follow.

While on the topic of large Indian things, this is my favourite tree in the whole gardens, a Banyan fig (Ficus benghalensis). If it were to grow in my backyard the base of the tree would also occupy at least all of my two neighbouring backyards and the branches would spread to cover the gardens either side of them. 

The amazing aerial root system of the Banyan fig is a magical world in itself, not all of it friendly to childish imaginations. The very helpful sign at the gardens says that this tree was planted here in the 1870s. As for the roots, the sign adds: "These roots eventually develop into a new trunk and so the tree spreads — one in India covering 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres) with over 1,000 subsidiary trunks."

Another favourite tree here is the appropriately named African sausage tree (Kigelia africana). 

Due to a lack of labels all I can tell you about this lovely grey palm is that I like it very much.

Tropical favourites such as heliconias were everywhere, but most of them were fading by the time and weren't as photogenic as this one.

There were dozens more delights that I saw in the time I wandered around the gardens, and during that time Pam had found a shady, comfy bench from which to do some "en plein air" watercolour painting. It never fails to draw a crowd, an artist with a pad, and so Pam had quite a few curious visitors while she created her piece.

Fortunately, that water dragon I showed you earlier had taken a liking to Pam, sitting at her feet while she painted, and so that kept the numbers of curious children well down.

Finally, if you want to drop in on these gardens while visiting Brisbane, they are down by the Brisbane River, at one end of the city's CBD. The main botanic gardens of Brisbane are now in another location, in Mt Coot-tha, and they are well worth visiting too, of course, but I do prefer the charm of these original riverside gardens and make a beeline for them every time we visit BrizVegas.