I’m not sure why I insist on writing all these posts on Botanical Gardens since I am not a botanist, or a gardener, and all I end up doing is wandering around the place thinking “pretty plant, pretty plant, oh that’s a nice rose, gee what a big water lilly”. Then again it is a place that I have visited and I seem to have this form of obsessive compulsive disorder to sit down and write a blog post on almost every place that I have visited (even if it happens to be a town in the middle of whoop-whoop, which for those non-Australians means nowhere), and since I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens when I was last in Adelaide I simply have to write a post about it.
Anyway, I could finish it off there, but I won’t because if that was all I had to write I simply could have posted it on Yelp (or Trip Advisor – though I tend to be a little bit more detailed about the place as opposed to writing about my obsessive compulsive disorder), so I probably should write a little more about my adventure with my brother.
We had been pretty much zooed out (there is only so much zoo that I can appreciate, but then again that is the case with most places that I visit – especially since I try to run a tight schedule) so we wandered over to the Hackney Hotel for some lunch (and so I could write about it on Yelp, and Tripadvisor, and Truelocal, as well as marking it as a place that I have visited on Google Maps – yep, I think I do suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder) and then decided to make our way back to the railway station via the botanic gardens.
The Botanic Park
Well, to get to the Botanic gardens we had to make our way across the Botanic Park, a place that has long been a part of my childhood. This is a large park with trees scattered across the area (and it also has a creek – First Creek – running through the centre). Actually, before I continue any further, it might be an idea to actually show you a map of the area, thanks to Google Maps:
Anyway, as I mentioned, this park is one of those places that I came to every so often as a kid. The thing with the Botantic Park is that there are a lot of wide open spaces, which makes it a perfect place for church picnic since you can sit in groups, or go off and play some ball games (usually Cricket, Keep-off, or Kick and Catch – none of which I was ever interested in as a kid). Actually, due to it’s large spaces they also have the Moonlight Cinema down here (though I have only ever been there once), as well as a couple of music festivals (including Womadelaide).
I probably should mention that this place has a pretty sordid past. In fact when I was younger one was encouraged not to wander down here at night (and I would probably suggest that you don’t do it these days either). The thing is that the Botanic Park gets quite dark, and is really empty, at night, which means that it is a magnet for all sorts of nefarious people. Mind you, when I was young, we did come down here a couple of times on a dare, and walking past the zoo, with all of the animals making their various noises (and friends jumping out from behind parked cars) made it a pretty spooky endeavour. Mind you, since I am writing this now suggests that nothing all that bad happened to us.
Anyway, enough of this because this is supposed to be a bright and happy post, not a dark and spooky post (though Adelaide does have its spooky side to it, in fact Salmin Rushdie said as much when he appeared at the first ever Writers’ Week in 1984). I might write something about this aspect sometime down the track, but not now.
There is another thing that I have discovered (though I worked it out when I was wandering through here over Christmas, and then promptly forgot all about it), and that was the name of these really cool trees that you find around the park. The thing that I loved about this park were that the roots of these meander from from the trunk over the ground and as a kid I used to climb all over them (actually as a kid I would climb anything and everything, and even sprained my ankle once when I fell off a pole outside my house – which didn’t stop me from climbing the pole again mind you). Anyway, I believe these trees are actually called Plane Trees (namely because the road that runs through here is called Plane Tree Drive, though I could be, and probably am, completely wrong). I’ve always wondered what a Plane Tree looks like after reading the Lonely Planet Guide to Greece – I guess now I know.
Another thing that I discovered as I wandered through here was this tree that I reckon has been around for decades, and the reason I say this is because it has a distinctive hollow trunk. I vaguely remember playing in this tree was because of the fact that it had a hollow trunk (and imagining that it may be an entrance to a secret world – possibly containing faeries – not that I would want to actually visit a world full of faeries having read some rather disturbing books about what they are really like).
Well, by this time we had made the trek across the Botanic Park and were now about to enter the Botanic Gardens.
The Botanic Gardens
One of the problems with places like this is to work out where to go first. Sure, there was a map, but unfortunately, unlike the zoo, the map was plastered on a board and couldn’t be removed. Okay these days one can solve that problem by taking a photo of it with your camera (or smart phone), but then if you are anything like me you are probably taking photos of anything, and everything, which means that that one photo ends up getting lost among the gazillion of other photos on your phone.
So, my brother and I decided to take a punt and head off towards the east, where we discovered what could only be described as and overgrown bunch of weeds. Actually, as I wandered through this part of the garden I felt like I was wandering through one of those houses where the owners, or occupiers, really have no sense or desire to get out the shovel and start turning it into a garden (I’m probably one of those people, but then again my garden consists mostly of a concrete slab, and lots of stones, though weeds do seem to push through them on occassion).
Well, as we wandered through here, we did discover some interesting things, including a bench that was slowing been swallowed by the undergrowth, a river red gum where a cross section has been preserved and was sitting next to it, a trellis that was also being swallowed up by the undergrowth, and a statue of a man that looks suspiciously like Beethoven which had succumbed to the ravages of pigeon poo.
We finally made out way out of the undergrowth where we came upon this huge structure that has been around for quite a while but I have never had to opportunity of going inside – the tropical rainforest building (actually I believe it is called a Terrarium, but I had to look it up – as I said I’m not a botanist, or a gardener).
Anyway, as you can see, it is basically a giant green house, and it is supposed to do what greenhouses are designed to do – let in heat but not let it out (which is what the supposed problem with climate change is). So, the heat inside is supposed to cause the water to evaporate, and with nowhere to go it because really humid inside thus creating a tropical atmosphere. Now, I’ve been to the tropics and I have to say that I hate humidity – it is hot, sticky, and generally quite unpleasant (though that wasn’t the case the last time I was in Thailand), but when I came in here this time I have to say that it was rather cool. Still, it was pretty lush and green inside, and we spent some time wandering around before we decided to head off elsewhere.
So, we left the Terrerium and made our way to some place that was supposed to be a rose garden, however there didn’t seem to be all that many roses there. Maybe we had just come at the wrong time of the year, especially since I have seen that gardeners have this habit of cutting roses right back to their bare stalks during the pruning season. Actually, since I’m not a gardener I have absolutely no idea when pruning season is supposed to occur, so I guess I am quite in the dark as to why there didn’t seem to be all that many roses here. Actually, I suspect that it was pruning season since I did have roses in the back yard at my former house and they had blossomed earlier in the year (and when I returned recently I was quite horrified at how fast the weeds had taken over the garden, but then I had spent the good part of the summer ripping them all out).
Well, after our little trek through the basically non-existent rose garden (though I am probably being a little harsh since from looking at the photos there were some, albeit small number, of roses in this garden, but as I have suggested it probably was the wrong time of year), we then made our way to the area behind the old Hackney bus depot.
I actually have to make mention of that because when I was in highschool a friend of mine and I had an obsession with bus timetables and bus routes. I have no idea why because buses seem to be the bane of the public transport world, yet we loved knowing where buses went, and we were particularly impressed with the O-bahn (which is a bus way). Mind you, we did create these imaginary cities with O-bahns going everywhere, however I still shake my head at this obsession because trains are so much better, especially subways.
Anyhow, behind the building was another new part of the gardens that I hadn’t seen before – swampland (or the more precise term is wetland, though I have to say I so much prefer the word swamp, probably because it conjurers up a much different picture, usually associated with places in fantasy worlds where adventurers fear to tread due to the nasty monsters that tend to lurk therein). Swamps are actually pretty easy to make – you just plug up the one side of the creek and then let the water just spill out all over the ground turning into a muddy and sticky morass.
Mind you, returning to the term wetland (which sounds a lot less hideous than swamp) is that they are a biodiversity wonderland with lots of life teaming through the muddy waters. Not only are there a huge range of plants, but lots of little creatures, including insects, reptiles, and aquatic creatures, all living off of each other to create a place of natural beauty. In fact government are recreating wetlands in a lot of areas to try to bring this life back. Fortunately, one of the creatures you won’t find in the wetland is a crocodile (alligators are native to Florida).
One cool thing I saw though was that they had a depressed area surrounded by glass where you could look into the water (though it was pretty muddy meaning that you couldn’t really see all that much).
After wandering around the wetlands (or swamp as I prefer to call them), we wandered across the bridge and I decided to head off the beaten path and make my way through the undergrowth (though there was a path wandering through there – I’m sure the Botanic Gardens wouldn’t appreciate it if I went on a good old fashioned bush bash – anyway I can do that in the national parks if I really wanted to). As we were making our way through what simply appeared to be native Australian plants I discovered something that clearly indicated that I was in the Botanical Gardens (as if I didn’t realise it anyway) – a plaque on a tree written in Latin:
Here are some other photos of this native Australian bush track:
I mentioned at the beginning of the post that the gardens unfortunately didn’t have a map that I could refer to, or even take. However I have since visited the website and after stumbling around it for a bit I finally discovered one. However there was a catch – it was in pdf format. Mind you, not being outdone by a simple pdf format, I took a screenshot, and then edited out the irrelevant sections so that I can now past it on my blog. Unfortunately it probably isn’t the best type of map that you can get, but then again it is a map so you can actually see what I am referring to (I probably should have posted it at the beginning, but then again this is me – order has never been my strong point, at least when it comes to writing).
We then managed to find a bridge that took us across the creek (not that we actually needed a bridge because there wasn’t any water in it anyway, but my brother wasn’t to keen on simply walking across it – he preferred that we take the bridge) and into another part of the garden. We wandered around there (and noticed that there was a kiosk, as well as a display sponsored by SANTOS of all companies – but then again these companies have always enjoyed sponsoring places such as botanic gardens while they are pillaging the Earth elsewhere, not that SANTOS actually has any money to do anything these days.
Enough of my company bagging (and my Schaudenfraude) and back to my exploration of the gardens. Anyway we wandered away from the kiosk and found another glass house, which was open, so we decided to have a look inside. As it turned out this was some sort of display of water plants, or at least one water plant – the lily – and I have to say it was one of the largest waterlilies that I have ever seen. Actually, there were also some displays taking about the waterlilly, but I didn’t pay much attention (simply because I’m not a botanist, or a gardener) and instead took a photo of the leaf.
After being amazed by the size of these lilies, we then headed out of the glass house and went for another wander, and found ourselves walking through a bamboo forest. Actually, I remember I had a friend once who lived in a flat across the road from a paddock that had a heap of bamboo growing there. We loved that bamboo forest because we ended up creating a little cubbie house in there with multiple rooms. Okay, we didn’t have a roof, but there were some pretty decent walls. Bamboo also makes a pretty good weapon, and it really hurts (or should I say stings) when you get whacked with one of them.
After wandering through the bamboo forest we turned around and walked back towards the artificial lake (after crossing a dry creek bed). The lake is another part of the gardens I remember from when I was younger. In fact I believe that I even watched a performance of Twelfth Night here (though I don’t think it was near the lake). Actually, come to think of it, I haven’t seen a production of Shakespeare in the Park for ages, but then again whenever I check out the performances here in Melbourne it always turns out to be Romeo and Juliet and I have to admit that Leonardo Di Caprio has put me off that play for life (as well as West Side Story).
Well, it seems as if this post is starting to get a bit long in the tooth (sorry about the cliche, but then again this is a blog, not an essay, so I guess I can get away with it) so I will finish off with my wanderings around one of my favourite parts of the garden, the cactus garden. I’m not all that sure why I like cactus gardens, I guess it may have something to do with having a soft spot for the plant, and also due to the fact that they don’t always look like the three pronged cacti that you seem to always see on the American westerns.
Mr Botanical’s Garden by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.