Friday, 28 January 2011

ABC gallery - featuring a photo from this blog!

The Cicada picture I took in Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens back in October is now featured in the ABC 'Your Summer Bug Photos' competition gallery!  Some really beautiful photos of bugs up there, I'm honoured to be in such good company.  I must be getting something right - as you can see on this blog, plenty of trial and error!

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Telstra tower - modelled on a Grass Tree?!

I took a picture of these Grass Trees Xanthorrhoea the other day, with Canberra's iconic Black Mountain Tower in the background - it made me realise the design for the tower really looks like it was inspired by the grass trees!  Perhaps that is why the tower seems to sit so well in the landscape. 
Grass trees are interesting plants, they are very slow growing so a large one may be hundreds of years old.  They are important to Aboriginal people, who would use the long flowering spike as a spear.  Aboriginal people would eat the nectar and the resin was used as glue.  They would also eat young leaves, but use tough old leaves as knives.  A more controversial common name for them is 'black boy', as they resemble the silhouette of an Aboriginal boy holding a spear. 
When I visited Tasmania a year ago I discovered some species of Xanthorrhoea in Tasmania are threatened by Phytophthora cinnamomi, a devastating plant pathogen that has spread across the globe causing serious destruction in native plant communities.  There appears to be a management plan in place, though I believe this pathogen is also found in other parts of Australia. 
Below is a close up of the tower and the view from the tops over Canberra - with the silhouette of the tower casting a shadow on the Botanic Garden below.

There are many beautiful Grass Trees out at Tidbinbilla where my partner Edd works, it is a beautiful place, well worth a visit.  Edd drew a lovely picture of one a while ago, it can be seen here on his blog, along with a few more facts about the Grass Tree.