Sharing The Peapod's Travel Adventures...

Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens

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This entry was posted on 3/15/2007 5:33 PM and is filed under Australia.

SYDNEY'S ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS

We were lucky enough to have the Circular Quay (the Harbour) in our front yard and the Botanic Gardens in our backyard.  66 acres of land devoted to the Gardens is a wonderful addition to this City.

The first thing we noticed was this art piece called "Memory is Creation Without End" by Kimio Tsuchiya.   It is at one of the many entrances of the Gardens.  A reminder of the old Sydney, it is a collection of old sandstone building columns, arches, plaques, keystones and ornamental facades.  It sits on the grass looking like a grave site, which in a way, it is.  A reminder of another time when the City looked quite different than it does now.  A nearby plaque says "Each piece of stone, carved by stone masons long ago, now darkened with age, testifies to their lost function and to the loss of those old buildings in the collective memory."  "...It symbolizes the connection of past, present and future.  In salvaging and reconfiguring the stones into this spiral unification of sculpture and landscape the artist endows them with new life, meaning and memory."  April 2000

(And by the way, the building in the background of this shot from the garden is our apartment - so literally the park was in our back yard)...



Here are some of the individual elements in the ensemble...









Another sign we loved reminds people to "Walk On The Grass" and picnic here and feel free to use these Gardens.



This is where we saw the family of gorgeous Lorries eating berries from this tree.  There must have been at least a dozen in this tree...







And the Cockatoos who made such screeching sounds and loved to play in the trees.  This one was just a few feet above us in the tree and could care less we were right there underneath...



This was an unusual bird we spotted in the gardens too - not sure what it is, but it looks like our kingfishers...



This just added!!!  Our friends Bill and Ray just wrote confirming this is a kingfisher - but not just any kingfisher.  It is the famous Kookaburra of this song:

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be  (see - we told you Sydney was gay friendly)

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Eating all the gum drops he can see
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
Leave some there for me

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
That's not a monkey that's me


This song was written in 1936, and introduced at a Scout Jamboree in Melbourne, Australia. The "gum tree" is what we Americans know as a eucalyptus. The "gum drops" that the kookaburra eats in the song are beads of the resinous sap.

As Bill & Ray explain it:
"It's a kookaburra or 'the laughing jackass'. They live in family groups and mark their territory by flying from tree to tree and letting go with a wonderful, raucous laughing sound. An aboriginal legend tells us that Agoodenout, the keeper of the sun's fire, sent the kookaburra to awaken man and all the bushland creatures to the glories of a new day."

The Gardens are also the home of the Flying Foxes (Fruit Bats) that live high in the trees and have a huge migration each night at dusk as they leave the Gardens and head for fruit orchards outside of town.  For more photos of the Bats, see the prior entry called "Birds and Bats of Sydney".

But here's one more photo of them, because you can't think about the garden without thinking of these bats...



The garden was divided up into many sections (outdoor rooms) - here's an overview of the lower garden, looking out to the Harbour...



This huge pyramid shaped building housed many species of plants from the Rainforest.



There was an exhibit going on called "Sex and Death" which showed orchids from both the highlands and the lowlands and their reproductive cycles.  We found it quite fascinating to see a video on how these exotic orchids are pollinated.  Often times the orchids lure a bee into their depths only to attach a bit of pollen to their backs so that when the bee finally escapes from the clutches of this orchid he can carry that bit of pollen off to the next plant as he is seduced all over again.  Here's EJ inside the rainforest orchid exhibit...



There was a Succulent Garden, but sorry, didn't come close to ours.  Other highlights were the Herbal Garden, Australian Rainforest Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and various beautiful blooming plants and flowers.



Santa Barbara has some wonderful cycad gardens, like Lotusland, but we pods had never seen one with a seed pod like this before...





We are fortunate to have a friend who is a docent at Lotsuland - which has the  largest (or second largest?) collection of species of cycads--and the most botanically valuable--in a private garden in the world.  Shelley wrote to us and added this cool info on cycad seeds:  "Right now there are large numbers of male cones, not so many female.  Never seen so many males coning at one time myself, but maybe that's how they do it.  Last summer and fall there were a lot of huge females--they are the ones that get so colorful when mature, probably to attract the animals that disperse the seed.  Dinosaurs, that is, which are in rather short supply at present. And some bats. (Not all female cycad cones get colorful, lots of variation. Depends on the species.)  One reason cycads are so rare in nature most places is that there are few animals that can eat the seed without being poisoned, so the seed does not get dispersed, just sits at the base of the mother plant....".  Thanks Shelley!


in summary....


 

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    • 3/19/2007 9:17 PM Bill and Ray wrote:
      Hello E & M, The bird that reminded you of a kingfisher is in fact a kingfisher. It's a kookaburra or 'the laughing jackass'. They live in family groups and mark their territory by flying from tree to tree and letting go with a wonderful, raucous laughing sound. An aboriginal legend tells us that Agoodenout, the keeper of the sun's fire, sent the kookaburra to awaken man and all the bushland creatures to the glories of a new day. There's no better explanation! Hope you are going well. B & R
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