The early autumn weather was warm, but overcast. There was no sign of rain, so I decided to go ahead with my day trip to the city’s Botanic Gardens to see what muses presented themselves to my attention.
On the way over I stopped by the nearby Art Gallery. There are three young Wollemi Pines gracing the glassed outlook of the Art Gallery Members’ Room. The Wollemi Pines (they are not actually pines, but descendants of an older conifer family called Araucariaceae) are of an extremely ancient lineage stretching back as far as the age of the dinosaurs. They are primitive, graceful trees festooned with long, snaking branches each bearing a fringe of spiny, rich dark green leaves.
They are modest trees, seeming very dusty and ordinary to the casual glance, until one notes there are few trees like these. But they have survived and seem to view the modern world of smog and concrete jungle and cars with placid indifference, perhaps knowing that this age (like all others they have seen) will one day pass.
The entrance to the Botanical Gardens is graced with a
refreshing puzzle of ponds with little fountains and against the nearby wall, distinctive Barrel Cacti plants preside in a row.
Once in the gardens, a large Hoop Pine (native of New Guinea, QLD and NSW) has swaying clumps of fingered pine needles hanging from its branches.
A majestic writhing Port Jackson Fig provides shade for myriads of fleshy Bromeliads living under its shadow and a comfortable seat for visitors.
A Mexican Bald Cypress has a trunk like grooved shale and from its branches hang weeping light green fingers of tiny, feathery leaves.
A QLD Bottle Tree looks like a paunchy old man about to go off for a walk.
Meanwhile, a group of banksia blooms sit on their seats of radiating leaves as if waiting for a conference to begin.
This mighty tree, the Flooded Gum (or Rose Gum) occurs in North NSW to QLD and is a dominant tree in the tall wet forests and rainforests there.
Chrysophyllum Imperiale. This tall tree with its distinctive large, pleated, almond-shaped leaves of a shiny dark green is a lone refugee of the disappearing rainforests of Brazil.
Further along the path I come across a nest-like Spiny-leaf Podcarp, a Australian conifer cousin of a nearby Wollemi Pine growing in complete harmony with it.
This handsome young tree is a Johnstone River Almond. Bearing edible fruit once eaten by Aboriginal peoples, it is a native of the North East QLD rainforests.
Here I paused to genuflect on the calm, verdant, placid scene of
the Botanical Gardens and how it has and is providing rest, information and relaxation for generations of people as well as offering sanctuary for many precious, endangered plants.
This totally dysfunctional looking thing nearby is a yellow sandstone replica of an Ancient Greek monument, erected at Athens in 330 BC, before which a certain Lysicrates received the Victor’s Tripod at the Festival of Bacchus. So now I know. Around the top of the monument there is a strange frieze of figures of men metamorphosing into beasts although much weathered away.
Here below is garden life on the banks of a pond completely
taken over by rampant Lotus plants. The tree in the background with its lovely sheening grey and ash branches is a Water Gum (family Myrtaceae) from the forests of the East Coast of Australia – from Maryborough in QLD to East Gippsland in Victoria.
Then I came across this charming Neo-classical statue of Spring by a mossy canal – ah, but it is now Autumn!
This is a Floss Silk Tree – indigenous from Brazil to Argentina,
a very large spreading tree bearing beautiful soft pink flowers, mostly fallen with the late summer season.
Here are clusters of the fleshy, epiphyte Bromeliads clinging to the trunks of these slim, graceful Senegal Date Palms (from subtropical Africa and Madagascar).
So ends my jaunt for the day. I reluctantly took my leave and went home, but bearing lots of memories and a strange sense of renewal and serenity. People should do this more often.