Sunday, 3 May 2015

Warrnambool Botanic Gardens - Peacefulness by the sea

Gate to the Gardens

Well, I guess when I noticed that there was a sign pointing towards the botanic gardens I decided that I might go and have a bit of a look around. Anyway, my friend has a particular appreciation for gardens so I thought he might enjoy spending some time in this peaceful local. Peaceful it certainly was, but maybe that had something to do with it being a rather deary Sunday morning, or maybe everybody was simply nursing their hangovers from a rather eventful Saturday night (not that I would know what that is like).

In a way I never know what I am going to get in such gardens out in the regional centres of Australia. Certainly some of the gardens in the cities are quite large with huge variety, however when one leaves for the country the gardens do tend to get smaller and the variety of plants a lot less. However, that does not necessarily mean that they are not as interesting to visit as their bigger cousins in the metropolitan centres. 

Red Flowers
Thought I might add a little colour to the post
I have come across some botanical gardens in Suburban Melbourne, one at St Kilda and another in Williamstown (and I am sure that there are others), however the gardens in Warrnambool are somewhat larger than these (though, as I have suggested, not as large, or as full of variety, as the one in the city). Anyway, you are probably wondering what the difference is between a botanic garden and your ordinary, everyday, park. Well, to some people there probably isn't all that much difference, except that botanic gardens tend to have some fancy fence surrounding them. Other than that it is basically a patch of grass, with some trees and flowers, where people have picnics and play cricket (that is if you are allowed to, but then signs saying 'no ball games' generally don't stop them), or where lovers walk, holding hands, and talking about basically nothing except how wonderful they believe the other is.

There is a difference, and that is because pretty much all (or maybe most, I can't say for sure) botanic gardens tend to have little signs next to the plants with some scientific name identifying what that particular plant is (it may look like a daisy, it may smell like a daisy, hey, it probably even tastes like a daisy - not that I know what a daisy tastes like - but that little sign in front of it says bellis perennis). In fact you could probably say that a botanic garden is basically a zoo for plants (though you generally don't have to worry about the plants jumping the fence and tearing you a new one - unless of course there happens to be a triffid in that particular garden, or something vaguely similar to this:).
Plant monster
A botanic garden with something like this would be sort of cool
Mind you, while there weren't any really nasty plants here (or at least any that were chained to metal poles) there were some rather worrying creatures hanging upside down on one of the trees - namely flying foxes. Okay, since it was the middle of the day they all seemed to be hanging there asleep, but ever since I first encountered flying foxes nesting in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens I have always been rather nervous around them, especially since they look like bats. Okay, they may look like bats, and they may go by the name grey-headed flying fox (which are, by the way, native to the east coast of Australia) but if they had a sign under them, then that sign would read pteropus poliocephalus. Anyway, that first time I saw them there were signs all over the gardens warning us that they are disease carriers, which really worried me because when the gardeners started firing off their gas guns in an attempt to scare them out of the trees, I realised that they could all suddenly swarm down onto me and I would be, well, royally screwed. Anyway, this is what the sky looked like after the guns had been fired off:
Bat Swarm
Maybe they're just bats
Anyway, enough of pteropus poliocephalus, even though in my books they are the stuff of nightmares, and on to the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. I let my friend go and do what he likes to do, and that is look at plants and take photos of them (though he might have been on his phone talking to some unknown friend, namely because he seems to always be on that phone talking to some person that I have no idea who they are). As for me, well I cautiously walked past that tree and continued to wander around the botanic gardens.

Anyway, one of the things that I discovered is that, as well as the signs listing the scientific names of the plants (and I sometimes wonder if they call pansies Viola Tricolor because they want to look really smart and actually suggest that they know Latin, when in reality they couldn't string a sentence in that language together even if they tried - but then I can't comment because my Latin pretty much extends to et tu Brutae), is that there are a few other things that all Botanic Gardens seem to have in common, and one of these is the arboretum. Well, that is actually a bit of a misnomer because according to Wikipedia, an arboretum is simply a collection of trees, and isn't that what a botanic garden supposed to be?

Collection of trees
That's a pretty nice Arecaceae
Okay, that may be nowhere near as cool as the picture on display on the wikipedia entry, but it is an example from that particular garden. Anyway, here is the picture that I stole from Wikipedia.

Wikipedia arboretum
I'm sure they have scientific names as well
Anyway, while I could go on and on using the word arboretum as if I had only just discovered it and making you all think I am really smart because I am using it in a sentence, I should probably tell you about the other things that I found in the garden, such as the sundial.

Good luck telling the time with that
For some reason people really like sundials. Okay, before we had wrist watches they were useful in telling the time, that is if it wasn't raining, overcast, or at night, but these days I suspect that they are only there for decoration. Mind you, it is interesting looking at these things, and making sure that your shadow doesn't cross it because then you won't be able to tell the time, because I like to see how they are set up. It is also interesting trying to see how accurate these things are. Apparently you can even work out where north is on these things, but then again when you know where the sun is located it is pretty easy working out where north is (and you can even do it using your wrist watch, but once again you need to know where the sun is located). However, these days working out where north is can be pretty elementary - I just fire up the compass on my smart phone, but then you need to be able to fire up your smart phone for that to work.

Bird Bath
I think that is supposed to be a bird bath
Another thing you seem to see in these places are bird baths. Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of a bird bath is because I have never actually seen birds washing themselves in these things. My Dad set up a bird bath once - after they go rid of the cat because cats and bird baths generally don't mix all that well - what is the point of attracting birds when the cat is going to be lurking around taking them out one by one? Anyway, bird baths can be magnificent pieces of art in and of themselves, and as is the case of the one above, can be positioned amongst some wonderful plants (that no doubt have some scientific names).

Glass house
It wasn't open
Well, you know what they say about people in glass houses, but then again this one wasn't made of glass, and it was also locked, so I couldn't go inside. However, what I could do was stick my camera in through the opening and take a picture:

Inside the glass house
A collection of Osmunda Claytoniana
Anyway, they are one of those things that all botanic gardens (well, excluding the one at Williamstown because they don't have a building housing tropical plants, but then it is a poor excuse for a botanic garden) seem to have on their premises. However, all I could do was take a photo through the hole and that was it.

Garden Pond
I'm not swimming in that
Another thing that a lot of botanic gardens seem to have (well, once again not the Williamstown Botanic Gardens, but I have already made a comment about their lack of attractions - with the exception of trees, they do have trees, and little plaques with Latin names, but that is beside the point) are ponds. I guess the reason they have ponds are two fold - first of all because ponds allow you to put lilies on display, as well as algae, and other aquatic plants. On the other hand they also provide young people with the perfect opportunity to play truth, dare, and double dare - or simply throw one of their mates into the water, only to land up in there pretty shortly afterwards. Mind you, I have been lucky enough never to have landed up in a pond, so I hope my luck sticks with me in that regards.

You seem to see these things everywhere
The final thing that came to no surprise was the rotunda. In fact I seem to see rotundas everywhere. I guess the thing about rotundas is that there is one in Elder Park in Adelaide that is pretty much the talk of the town. I remember a time (before the internet was widespread) where they discovered some hidden rooms underneath the rotunda in Adelaide, but then if you have a look at this one (and many of the others that you no doubt will come across) you will discover that quite a lot of them have rooms underneath them, no doubt to store equipment for use during special events.

Anyway, I could probably continue waffling on about this place, but I think I will leave it at that because I probably should be going to bed now, though there is one last thing that I have to do:

Creative Commons License
Warrnambool Botanic Gardens - Peacefulness by the sea by David 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.

 The Chlorophyll Shredder source: Nroxas used with permission under Creative Commons attribution non-commercial 3.0 unported

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