Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dreaming of Water

Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens

A couple of weekends ago I walked around the Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens for the first time in quite some time. I was devastated by the impact of drought on these gardens - the gardens used to be a local haunt for me. I spent many happy afternoons there when my son was a baby, sitting on a rug beneath a tree or strolling around. In those days the ornamental lake was brimming with water the tree canopy and undergrowth was thick and lush. No longer. The gardens are a shadow of their former selves.

A Botanic garden is a very difficult thing to maintain in drought years - many of the plants are exotic specimens that require greater quantities of rainfall than Melbourne - even in years prior to water restrictions could naturally supply. In average rainfall years this extra water could be delivered artificially but no longer. Even the indigenous plants seem to have suffered - the canopies of the eucalypts have noticeably thinned.
Clearly efforts are being made to renew and replace plantings to cope for these restrictions but the structure and form of the garden has been created over decades and it is impossible to recreate this in a few years.

So it was with a fairly heavy heart that I left the garden and strolled onwards to the National Gallery of Victoria to take a peek at the sculpture garden.
I had glimpsed on the NGV website a picture of a marvellous bamboo sculpture rather ironically created to invoke the idea of a rushing, torrent of a waterfall.

"Five Elements" by Master Tetsunori Kawana

The sculpture entitled Five Elements – Water is created by Master Tetsunori Kawana. Master Kawana has been creating these sculptures for more than 30 years. He has travelled the world to create bamboo installations of a spectacular scale unseen in the related traditional practice of Ikebana. His creation is a unique bamboo sculpture made from hundreds of seven-metre lengths of Madake bamboo, many split into thinner reeds for flexible construction. Rather a wonderful construction but I'm still yearning for the real thing in these thirsty times.


Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

Wow, thanks for writing about the Royal Botanic Gardens - always fascinated to see Melbourne even if only virtually - and Kawana's incredible sculpture!
Thinking 'Ikebana' in the context of the scale of 'Five Elements' is a curious notion to ponder.
Would it be possible to use your 2 photos of Five Elements and link back to you? I'm smitten :D

Please email me from the link on BayAreaTendrils.

Wishing you rain, and lots of it!!! Alice

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

I am so worried for the situation in Victoria and Melbourne, too. Just like you, I used to walk at the gardens very often. We lived in Albert Park, so I could just stroll there with my pram, with my girls in it (they were born 2000 and 2002). They almost walked their first steps there, and I was mostly worried about the bats damaging the garden then. And now, there has still been no real rain since we left Melbourne in 2003. It is so sad, and scary, I so hope for a miracle to come and start the rains again.

Tina said...

Yes, it is not a good situation. August seemed a good month for rain here and I was heartened but when I looked at the statistics it is still down on the average. It seemed like we had some much but I guess only in contrast to what has become the norm.

Funnily we were probably strolling the gardens at the same time as my son was born in 2001!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

It is a nice thought; we might have met at the gardens, without knowing it...

Helen said...

Saw the images on Bay Area Tendrils and linked to you there -- thanks for the story. The bamboo sculpture is "wow" in motion.

Tina said...

What a fabulous description!