January 28, 2011

Plants and more plants.

I just spent an enjoyable few days in my home town of Adelaide, where among other things I photographed the roses in my parents' yard, wandered through the Botanic Gardens, visited my friend Kegan's budding permaculture garden in the hills, and finished reading this exquisite book on 'plant powers, poisons and herbcraft' by Dale Pendell, which I intend to blog about another time.

So as usual, I have plants on the brain, and the next book on my reading list is one that I picked up at the Gardens about my new favourite place in Adelaide - The Museum of Economic Botany. I had never heard of the museum before, and stumbled across it thinking the name sounded promising - to me it conjured images of old herbariums full of plant specimens known to be of interest or benefit to mankind; and that's exactly what it was. Some of my favourite plants were represented there, beautifully preserved and presented in glass display cabinets, alongside charmingly hand-written cards to identify each specimen. Apparently the collection has survived since the museum first opened in 1881, but has recently received a makeover. It's the only one of it's kind in Australia, and apparenlty one of only four in the whole world.

My favourite of all poisons: coffee.


If you check out the website or the book you'll also get to see the incredibly ornate ceiling in this building, which was a work of art in itself, recently restored from the original. The stuff in the cabinets was better though. Also exceptional viewing at the Gardens was the pond full of Sacred Lotus flowers in full bloom:

Strolling through Kegan's pine forest/front yard had me wishing I lived closer to the hills...apparently Amanita Muscaria mushrooms are to be found here in Autumn, which I may just be tempted to fly over for - so I can draw them, of course!

The rather impressive view from the back porch of his parents' house.

Some of the yummiest strawberries I've ever eaten. The magic of food plants, and of eating said food straight from the garden, will never be lost on me.

Proud dad with one of his zucchini offspring.

Hopefully this year Kegan will be helping me set up my own garden, a project I've put off for an eternity due to a combination of insecurities from past failures and a general lack of time and know-how. But I've been dreaming of a garden for so long that I can't put it off any longer, so 2011 is the year it's gonna happen. In the meantime, I'll keep posting photos of other people's.


wandering genie said...

These pictures are killing me! I am currently buried under about 15 inches (381 mm) of snow. Not a green thing in sight. That museum looks amazing. The natural history museum and some of the anatomy museums in vienna have a similar look, and the same kind of old wood display cases. They had rooms full of mineral specimens with ancient paper labels that looked a lot like that. If you make it to the states you have to check out Longwood Gardens. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longwood_Gardens). It's not far from Philly!

Amy Duncan said...

ohh, longwood looks great, you're on missy! I've been told the natural history museum in london is to die for, so I've got that on my list too. it's pretty cute that you translated inches into millimetres for me...I'm actually kinda jealous cos I've never even seen snow! I guess the novelty must wear off pretty fast though, and then you're just really, really, really cold.

Amy Duncan said...

crikey, I just found this place too! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_of_Natural_Sciences

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