A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to be taken on a guided walk with Ray Steward who has a long connection to the Gardens at Mt Coot-tha. I will be posting on that very soon - once images come together! Ray has a most interesting story from considerable lifetime experience it must be said!
Armed with umbrella and camera last friday I met up with Bettina Palmer who's been involved at Mt Coot-Tha for over 10 years in various volunteer capacities, including conducting guided tours on this site.
Attending a meeting of volunteer guides earlier this month it was impressive to see how many people give time on a regular basis - highlighting the important role played by volunteers to carry out and maintain many enriching activities.
Bettina has also worked at the Seed Lab at Mt Coot-tha for the Millennium Seedbank Project which I shall soon be posting on. She has been exploring the use of seeds for jewellery. Her other designs are excellent so I hope to have something to show here using seeds in the coming months.
Last Friday was an excellent opportunity as Bettina took me into areas of the Gardens I was curious to know more about or had not as yet explored. Several images below are from the Aboriginal Plant Trail which brought to life some of what I been have reading about of late.
The children's trail features a series of commissioned sculptures, some placed intriguingly amidst the plants requiring a search following numbers and hints on a brochure. My eye was drawn to the image of seeds dispersing carved on the side of this sandstone sculpture below. The close-up brings this to light.
This extraordinary fungi was quite a sight - orange and brown -so striking and the oddness of them appearing (as if) out of nowhere. Constant recent rain no doubt brought on the many fungi species popping up all over the place - some so subtle - almost invisible to the eye - unlike this one.
This image of the bromeliad above does not do it justice - at all. It was a shock or yellow and red amidst all the green and rainy grey sky.
This flower above is from a rather remarkable tree native to Asia bearing the fruit below known as an elephant's apple apparently as it is enjoyed by elephants in native India and elsewhere. Read about the Dillenia Indica tree here.
below: seeds from the soursop (Annona muricata) from the Magnoliaceae family. I was astonished to see the way the decomposing fruit finally revealed these bright yellow ochre seeds.
Clearly I am going to have to take along a notebook with camera on the next guided tour - minus the umbrella! Pouring over the photos now it's a challenge to recall all that was passed on to me at the time. NOTE TO SELF: A challenge to be accurate if notes are not taken down at the time! Layers of information, context, history, stories were shared by Bettina - a most excellent guide. This tour of the Gardens ignited enthusiasm for the past week in the studio where downloaded images, collected seeds and pods (by special arrangement) and books were plundered for inspiration.
above: seeds and pods collected on different dates from various locations.
below: Image from a journal I am keeping this year - its proving very useful to go between visits to Mt Coot-tha, various books and internet resources to build knowledge slowly and methodically. In little over a month there is a sense of not being quite as 'lost at sea' as I was! Instead, awareness of where to seek further information and the importance of dialogue is critical at times - so it's wonderful to have the opportunity for contact with staff and volunteers alike.
Thank you Bettina for your generous time and wonderful engagement with endless queries and diversions, all with humour and grace!