Sunday, 31 July 2011

A trip to Kings Park

This morning I had a trip to Kngs Park to look at the Botanical Gardens.  I took the number 30 bus and then had about a mile's walk from the bus station to the Botanical Gardens.  I had planned to sketch some of the plants to use in my Pattern & Meaning class, but the weather precluded it.    It was showery and breezy, so instead I took some photos and looked in detail at the plants.  There were well laid out beds of Australian native flora, with helpful details provided on information boards.  I focussed on looking at eucalyptus and banksia.  There are many varieties of each plant. 

Forgotton the name of this one

Black kangaroo paw

Banksia flower
I had been drawing honkey nuts, which I thought were the seedheads of the eucalyptus.  Apparently they are Marri tree seedheads.  The seedheads were called honkey nuts because in colonial times, they were used as balls to play hockey.  And boy scouts would drill a hole through the bottom of the nut, emerging through the mouth of the seedhead, for use as a woggle!  Marri is a bloodwood tree and exudes blood red gum, particularly if stressed or damaged.  The aboriginals used the gum and seeds as medicine to cure stomach upsets, and soaked the flowers in water to dissolve the nectar to make a sweet drink.  The flowers must be saturated in nectar because I saw blossoms in a sheltered corner absolutely covered with bees.  Also a thrush-like bird flew in about 6 feet from me and was feeding on the bees. 
My sketch of honkey nuts

Having done some more research, I have discovered that Marri was categorised as Eucalyptus calophyllal until the 1990s, then the plant classification people changed its name by placing it in the genus Corymbia, with other bloodwoods, which is a primitive group of eucalypts.  Makes me wonder whether this is an older form of eucalyptus, and therefore less evolved. 

The early settlers called it Red Gum but an early Conservator of Forests changed the name to the Aboriginal name, Marri, in order to avoid confusion with the River Red Gum which is a different form of ecualyptus.

There were many beautiful forms of eucalyptus.  I was struck by one of the largest forms, which had dramatic flower heads opening.  The flower pod was like an egg cup with a perfectly fitting pointed hat on top and as the flower pushes off the cap, the pod splits horizontally and pops off demonstrating a shock of filament petals in brilliant pink.  Absolutely stunning. 

Eucalyptus macrocarpa
I took the free bus from the Botanical Gardens back to the bus station, and then back home.  I was a really good student, and spent the afternoon doing my Visual Inquiry art and reading homework, when I would much rather have been downloading the photos I had taken, and sketching from them.  I made Jim a cake while he was out on his bike watching Sunday afternoon football at the local ground.  It's now evening, and I keep losing wifi, possibly because of the intermittent rain affecting reception. 

The local buses have much more interesting seating fabric than in London.  The moquette is bright and busy.  This is a picture for my friend Lisa.

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