A Walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
It was a funny sort of afternoon. One minute there was bright sunshine peering from behind the clouds and my forearms got sunburnt and next minute the grey clouds took over and it was relatively gloomy and poor light (for photography).
I was reading an article by a leading nature photographer the other day, who said that there is no such thing as poor light (for photography).
Well, if you’re an amateur and pretty new to a DSLR as I am, yesterday was poor light (for photography) – LOL.
Left: Moreton Bay Fig tree
Not many birds around to photograph (and not particularly good light for flower photography either). I put the 50mm prime lens on my DSLR thinking that it would get the best shots, but was sorely disappointed with the results when I downloaded the images onto my computer. I’m glad I put the 18-200mm lens back on part way through the walk.
By the middle of the afternoon, a few large spots of rain fell and I headed for home. The forecast storm didn’t hit Melbourne until about 6.00pm and then it became as dark as night and we got the best heavy rain we’ve had for weeks. I hope the areas with Bush Fires reaped the benefit as the rain lasted for quite some time in the city.
It almost looked like the type of storms which have hit north-eastern Australia and caused mass flooding and left many people homeless. I think of those people daily and hope they are now safe. One town in the north with floods up to the roofline of their homes have been flooded out 6 times in the last 10 years. The water rose so quickly that hundreds of people were surprised, stranded and have been air lifted out of the water to escape with only the clothes on their backs. Many people have still not recovered or finished rebuilding their businesses from the 2011 floods in Queensland.
I know other parts of the world have been suffering from severe weather storms too. Surely people must recognise that our world climate is changing and global warming is having a profound effect on every country.
But on to happier news with a few photos from yesterday’s walk.
Australian Wood Ducks (female in foreground, male in the background) – a common sight in the Botanic Gardens and even a few were at the Zoo the other day.
A Purple Swamphen was bouncing around on the nets placed over some new floating reed islands in the lake.
It’s almost 3 years since I had to take early retirement due to chronic ill-health and I didn’t know what 99% of the birds in the Botanic Gardens, or Zoo, were called. Now each name slips off my tongue with ease. I certainly didn’t know the difference between a Magpie and Magpie Lark (which I do now). I still can’t pick the difference between a Crow and Raven, except that one seems to have a slightly different size, shape and shade of black. The crows seem to be much bigger, although a juvenile crow would be similar in size to a Raven, so size doesn’t necessarily reveal which is which.
A Chestnut Teal (male) swims swiftly by as I stand looking over the Ornamental Lake.
Most of the summer flowers have died with the searing high temperatures we had a few weeks ago, but the Perennial Walk over the south-western side of the Botanic Gardens still has a beautiful display.
Most of the other flowers in bloom are in the shadier areas.
Looks like a Hibiscus unfurling its bloom (below).
The leaves of the Ficus dammaropsis (below) are enormous – some about 18-20 inches across.
Looks like some sort of Daylily below – I’ve lent my Royal Horticultural Society plant/flower encyclopaedia to my neighbour, so can’t tell you the names (unless they were written on a plant ID sign in the ground).
My neighbour bought the white flowering variety of this plant (below) and planted it only yesterday. We’ve been looking through the Encyclopaedias to find shade-loving plants to replace the over-grown ferns which are threatening to take over the small strip of garden next to my flat. It gets little sun at all, although I can grow some herbs in pots on the northern end of my balcony.
The Grey Garden was looking very…………..grey, with the overcast skies, by the time I had walked over to the north-western side of the Gardens. I don’t often walk up this path as most of the lower steps (not shown in this photo) are very deep and make me breathless to walk up. I don’t know how on earth ladies with long dresses back in the late 1840′s used to walk up these steps.
The Royal Botanic Gardens were first planted in 1846. There are certainly many trees planted around that time, although some have been blown over in storms in the last 10-15 years and have had to be cut down and removed. I have been walking around these Gardens almost daily for at least 20 years as I used to work across the road from the southern end. I would often walk down to the river and then cut back diagonally through the Gardens on the way to work in the Summer and Spring.
Sometimes I would walk all the way around them (4.6kms) once or twice after work when I first started working in the area, but I never started learning the plant names until I bought a camera and started spending the afternoon in the Gardens taking photos in 2010.
This was the start of improvement in my health. It took nearly 2 months of regular slow walking before I could walk around the whole gardens for 3-4 hours taking photos. In the beginning, I could only walk about 30 metres without chest pain and breathlessness and after back surgery in 2008, I could not walk up or down steps, bend or kneel easily.
Just goes to show that if you’re passionate about a creative hobby, its surprising how much you can do with practice and determination – I can now walk up or down steps as long as I lead with the strong leg going up and drop my right leg first going down. (The Zoo is easy to walk around as the paths are mostly flat, which is partly why I go so often).
The side of the lake shown below is lovely and cool on a hot day, but a little dark and gloomy on a rainy or overcast day. The sun had disappeared by the time I arrived at this location and there were hardly any bird life to be seen either on, or off, the lake.
I then walked up to the Plant Craft Cottage which normally has a beautiful garden (tended once a week by a volunteer gardening group), but most of the flowers had died in the heat. There was really only a lovely pink lily of some sort and a bright pink Dicentra in the deep shady corner. I don’t know what this pink lily looking flower is called.
I’ve named most of the flower photos from 2010 which are on my old desktop back-cup drive, but these days I feel more at ease posting images without names. I’d rather be outdoors, than looking up plant encyclopaedias all day.
Hope you’re enjoying the walk around the Gardens with me. It won’t be fine and sunny again until next Tuesday according to the forecast (which is always wrong), so not sure where the next afternoon walk will be.
I spent ages trying to take a photo of the many Bell Minor birds as they jumped from branch to branch, but the shot below is about the best out of a very mediocre lot. As they are mostly up high above me in this particular area of the path, it’s hard to get a side-on shot.