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.
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.