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Posts Tagged ‘descriptive prose’

Illawarra flame tree full shot

As we move into September, my anticipation begins to grow at the thought of the flame tree’s arrival. It won’t be long before our magnificent Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerfolius) drops its leaves then comes into flower. What a scene it displays—covered with a mass of rich scarlet bells. So intense is its colour that the tree appears to be on fire. As the flowers and fruit fall, its leathery green leaves—resembling the five lobed maple leaf—regrow to cover the tree again.

Flame teree wikimedia commons

Is there a downside to all this splendor? Unfortunately these unique trees—native to Australia—produce invasive root systems. In addition they scatter their litter of leaves, buds, flowers, and dry seed pods to create a thick blanket beneath them. Yet this inconvenience is a small price to pay for the joy of seeing the flame tree appear again in all its radiance.

Illawarra Flame Tree

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West Australian wildflowers, image courtesy of Carmel Dahl

From the golden hues of wattle, to the distinctive shapes of kangaroo paw and grevilleas, Australia’s unique native flowers are regarded as one of our national treasures. Blooming through all the seasons, they lift our hearts and brighten the landscape.

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Golden wattle smothers its tree in a thousand tiny sunbursts. Its astringent scent announces winter’s finale.

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Kangaroo paw flowers, stubby and curving, in variegated shades from orange to brown, display during the spring and summer months.

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Appearing first as a tiny six petaled flower, the paws mature into the unique shape that readily identifies them.

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Grevilleas grow from a large shrub covered in thin green spikes of leaves. Their undersides are silver in appearance. Their flowers have no petals but instead display curving stamens of gold, red and pink. Above is the Grevillea Honey Gem.

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The rich rosy pink of the Grevillea Caloundra Gem attracts many native birds and multitudes of insects to the garden. The distinctive beauty of our native flowers is a joy to behold.

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“Many people have noticed that appreciation of beauty increases with the intensity of observation. When we look at a tree, from a distance and up close, at its crevassed bark and the veins in its leaves, while circling it on foot or surveying it from a neighbouring tree or while lying on our backs watching its swaying topmast—when we engage all our powers in seeing this thing alive and growing and changing—we realize it. We literally make it real … When we do, when we give it our full attention, we realize it into being. This is our gift to the things of the universe. It return, and in gratitude, the star, the tree, or the pebble rewards us with its only gift: its beauty.”

by Jerry Dennis, ‘The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes’
Visit the Jerry Dennis website to enjoy more from this fine nature writer.

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     The scent of late autumn fills the air—that of cypress and hoop pine—burning in the fireplaces and pot-bellied stoves of many homes. As the nights grow colder, doonas and down-filled quilts are removed from storage. It’s time again for the first flames of gold, orange and red to appear within the leaves of many trees.

Entering the driveway of the Happy Valley Nature Retreat, this panorama of colour has already begun, spreading through its majestic avenue of Liquid Amber trees. These mature trees must have been planted many years ago and like silent sentinels, they guard the entrance to the retreat.

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Liquidambars, (Liquidambar styraciflua) are native to North America where they are commonly known as the Sweetgum. A genus of four species of deciduous trees in the witch-hazel family, they are related to the Canadian maple. They also grow abundantly as a native throughout Australia and New Zealand. Here they are described as Liquid Amber, a name derived from the rich, fragrant gum which exhudes from each tree.  

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These trees have a conical, or the more frequently seen rounded form. Their leaves resemble the maple in that each leaf is five pointed and grows spirally from their twigs. In autumn, they change colour from green to gold, then orange, and finally to brilliant red.  As they die and are blown or fall from the tree, they create a radiant patch-work of colour, blanketing the ground below.  

These hardy trees are easily cultivated in any temperate climate. Their large size—25 metres or 82 feet high—make these beauties ideal for expansive gardens, parks, boulevard and street trees. Liquid Ambers prefer a position in full sun with deep loamy soil. They should be watered regularly and never pruned, as pruning will destroy their natural shape. Enjoy them for the beauty they provide, especially when they don their autumn coloured finery. They are always a delight to behold.

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Jasmine

winter afternoon
a grey washed sky –
when on the wind
the fragrance of jasmine
from a woman’s perfume

I’m in the bedroom of our family home again standing at the window—enjoying the heady scent of five star jasmine that grows over our back fence—admiring the lace pattern of the curtains—when in the next breath as I expect to hear my mother’s voice call out, ‘It’s time for bed now,’ I’m back again in a bleak city fifty years away.

 

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As I feel a sudden blast of air I draw my light cardigan closer around me. Looking at the agitated trees one can see something of the wind that stirs them. Like a rushing tidal wave it sweeps over the forest from hill to hill, swirling through the treetops to strip and scatter the small branches and leaves. Passing gusts are caught up in whirlpools that break away to soar aloft on great drafts of air. Everywhere gales lash at the tall grass, creating whorls of circular movement that threaten to tear away the ground cover and carry it into the turbulence above. Like a mighty river in full flood, the entire topography of this land is drawn into the grip of a great wind, moving only where its swift current chooses to take it. Awesome, elemental power, unleashed and unstoppable – this is the wind.

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