Friday, September 28, 2012

A Fabulism

Of belonging, of faith, of confidence, of new life.
Of togetherness, of unity, of movement upwards, of interdependence.
Of potential, of precision, of purpose.
Of letting go, of disclosure.
Of light, of regeneration, of vivacity.
Of balance, of confluence, of emanation.
Of wonder, of new worlds, of trust.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Green Crowns

As a generalisation, colonising states disregard or override the life and the value of the life of those colonised.
Yet there are always those from among the colonisers who open themselves to their new world.
Mary Quick, about whom I can find nothing, published this book, 'Green Crowns', with The Juniper Press at Burradoo in New South Wales, in 1955. "An account of the native trees on the hills around Robertson, N.S.W.", it  seeks to commemorate a landscape unseen by most of its colonisers, and does so in kid gloves.
Finding an old sign advising 'Motor Speed Limit, 6 ( ie 6 miles per hour! ), the author tells how traffic now moves swiftly. "No longer can we recapture the frame of mind that felt life safer at something under six miles an hour". What would Mary think now as we all zoom without restraint?
Discovering this slender book took me home to where my heart is, in a slower world. Me? I am tired of rapidity and the marvels of science, of all of human conquering. Whatever happened to belonging, and to honouring what is given us? To now and here?
Above, 'Coachwoods at Burrawang', one of numerous wood-engravings "made on Turkish boxwood and Australian white beech'.
And here, a botanical drawing of the Coachwood ( Ceratopetalum apetalum ), as drawn by John Quick.
'Green Crowns' talks principally about half a dozen trees indigenous to Robertson and their rightful place in their landscape, despite the compromises colonisation has made them suffer.
Yellow sassafras, above, is one of them. Could it not be said that as we forge our way relentlessly, we human beings neglect the world around us?
Every care has been taken here to present a case simply. Above is Acmena ( now Syzygium ) smithii, a 'lillipilli' or Lilly Pilly, noted for its mauve berries.
And here is 'Brown Barrel' or Eucalyptus fastigata.
It's easy to suppose that environmentalism is a new issue, but the truth is there have always been among us those who care for the world around them regardless of politics and and the investment of power.
Those who speak quietly often have more to say than those who shout.
I know that I can cope with whatever the future throws at me. But if the future is one disconnected from nature, it won't be a better world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chief Inspector Zara Investigates: The Suspect Garden

 It was a dark and mild night. Chief Inspector Miss Zara of the Garden Crime Unit had a hunch.
Or was it lunch? No, it was evening, and lunch had long passed. If anything, it was a kind of late-night snack, or sleuthing. There was Something out there down in the shrubbery thing you've sort of designed, Constable "Artist" Faisal, or so you so style yourself...
Hmm. Smells good. Or smells of old socks. Constable Faisal, PLEASE stand back! Your interference could mangle our investigation!
Some sheets, stuck across the shrubbery, some Pittosporum, some Euphorbia, a moon, up in the sky, some rather poor design statements...Chief Inspector Zara, which way did the wind blow, who's the culprit, where's the (uneaten) evidence?
In one of the many forgotten footnotes of Australasian gardening crime, the irrepressible Chief Inspector Zara reported the location of a clue east of the laundry and downwind of the hose, buried half-forgotten in the lush, emerald-ish grass...
her assistant, brow-beaten, exhausted, worn-out by kitchen-duties, lacking canine insight, lagging behind with rather out-of-date photographic equipment, stared out into the chicken-wire fence...
and had to agree, many times, that, yes, there WAS something out there, at 11 pm, when everyone else was asleep, though whether it was a sock blown off the clothesline, a bone of contention or a false alarm, he couldn't tell...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This Thurso Thrill

You'll probably remember, appreciated reader, my recent post about an 1867 biography of Robert Dick, a Victorian, Scottish, self-made botanist, I'd bought. I've been following the blog of Joanne B. Kaar an artist whose hands-on, dedicated work with natural materials refers specifically to his achievements. It appeals greatly to me.
It just so happens that I sent the book to Joanne in Thurso, way up in far north-east Scotland ( having asked her first if she'd like it! ), feeling that among all the people in the world, she was most the one who should own it.
It thrills me to make connections across the world. I didn't expect anything back from Joanne. Imagine my delight, then, when this arrived, this parcel of prints and cards, made by Joanne, way up there, as far from Melbourne as you can get.
All of life, to me, is based on natural forms and forces, and the better-connected we are to these, the healthier we are. I admire any artist who with discipline and restraint reminds us of the beauty of our existence.
Thankyou, Joanne. I've been blown away to be in receipt of such a gift. My blogging followers believe I have an ability to create, but all I can do, in reality, is re-arrange.
It is you who is the maker ( forgive me for the washed-out photo ), and me who reports.
 I'm hoping that many of you will take a look at Joanne's blog - and I hoped I've linked it correctly, being hopeless at techno stuff like this - for it takes all of your life - as it did for Robert Dick  - to dedicate yourself to art.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Golden Age

Whisked away to Ballarat for a week with my car-apprehensive accomplice Zara, I was having a working one of the coldest parts of the State, at the end of winter...
We had two visits to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Above is the only unfinished sculpture I came across in this public space crammed with statuary, and my favourite.
Ballarat was a famous 'boomtown', being at the heart of one of the world's biggest goldfields, when gold was first discovered here, in the 1850s. Above is a view of Loreto College, on the shores of Lake Wendouree. Today, most of the gold you see belongs to the daffodils, everywhere in Ballarat...
Not that I had an endless, sunny horizon. When it wasn't drizzling, Brave Faisal and Superzara got stuck into masses of ivy...with a pair of clippers, I mean:
All of this came from out from under the kitchen window. How many hours did it take us, Zara?
 Ivy I prefer when it's only taken over half the universe, as here...
but lichen, Zara and I agreed, is subtle, so to see it everywhere reminds us of golden ages...
such as this signpost signals.
The Ballarat Botanical Gardens "are one of Victoria's most significant regional botanic gardens, retaining a gardenesque style characterised by mature trees, bedding plants, statuary and contemporary architecture". I have never seen so many statues in one place in my life, though if I were fleeing from Pompeii, as the above threesome are said to be doing, I'd be glad to be somewhere a little cooler now too.
The above gives you some idea of the scale and layout. It is one of the most formal gardens I've visited, a linear promenade punctuated by massive, conifers such as Araucaria and Sequoia ( especially Sequoiadendron giganteum, Sierra redwood ). It made me reflect on the quality of our public spaces, and how they express our civility and the way we regard one another. It is also, here, triumphant, an example of how the extraordinary wonders of the world can be harnessed by an evolving and ambitious humanity.

The prehistoric, elephantine garrison of a tree, the Bunya Bunya ( Araucaria bidwillii ) is splendid.
I imagine the Victorians saw human endeavour as encompassing and mastering such splendour, yet I feel they were the first to behold the magnificent extent of the world around them. They were as thrilled as I was,
by all this new life.
As the name 'Ballarat', coming from the language of the Wathaurong Aboriginal people, means "resting place", so these gardens offer respite... a black swan and her cygnets too.
The site is also one of commemoration. Above is a part of the more recently-built war memorial, on the perimeter.
 And here, the commemoration of rhythm and echo and flow and continuity, in the guise of a fountain. These are the most finely-maintained gardens I've entered, its lawns the lushest.
 Nothing is slapdash.
Past and present merge flawlessly. Is not a Golden Age more than a memory, but an aspect of our nature that can come alive wherever we perambulate?
Here, above, a corner of the Robert Clark Horticultural Centre. The new can meld with the old without jarring,
just as the old can appear from up out of the new without discord.
Whenever the rain kept me indoors, I read Gavin Maxwell's 'The Rocks Remain', and I was reading this because as a boy I'd been a huge fan of his famous 'Ring of Bright Water', an account of rearing otters in remote Scotland. I remembered other stories that are with me still: Hugh Lofting's, Gerald Durrell's, Paul Gallico's, Virginia McKenna's.
So a Golden Age, to me, is one that is forever renewed, and it is in the garden, in working with nature and what is natural, that my acquaintance with it comes most alive. Go, daffodil, go!