Flower power, far and wild

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

A rose by any other name? It’s not all sweet­ness for trav­ellers who wish to ap­pear knowl­edge­able about botan­i­cal won­ders but barely know a daisy from a daf­fodil. I used to be this type of gar­den roamer but have now made it my busi­ness to iden­tify trees, flow­er­ing plants and shrubs. I pester tour es­corts for in­for­ma­tion, make notes, take pic­tures. In the South African bush there is the marula tree, which bears abun­dant fruit, and that in it­self sounded fine but then sa­fari ranger Philip told me its other names. This shel­ter­ing species, he said, is known by Zu­lus as the Mar­riage Tree, its bark and berries be­lieved to pro­mote viril­ity and fer­til­ity. It’s also called the Ele­phant Tree, as jum­bos love the fruit, and so do hu­mans when it’s com­bined with cream and sugar and bot­tled as Amarula liqueur.

South African film­maker Jamie Uys (of The Gods Must Be Crazy fame) made a doco in the 1970s show­ing ele­phants and ba­boons ine­bri­ated on fer­mented marula berries but Philip in­formed me that was non­sense.

The jum­bos drink so much wa­ter, and are so enor­mous, that to be “drunk”, they would need to eat a quan­tity of fruit “more than the bushveld could hold”.

I love that in the Dain­tree I was told by an in­dige­nous guide that Cala­mus muel­leri is bet­ter known as the wait-a-while or lawyer vine — take your pick, but once in its grasp, it’s hard to break free. Less amus­ing but of great in­ter­est are myr­iad types of roses, many with her­itage cre­den­tials and sport­ing names as won­der­ful as Bub­ble Bath and Buff Beauty or Pink Par­fait and Pros­per­ity. I am barely able to tell roses apart, aside from ob­vi­ous colours and shapes but have been por­ing over the David Austin English rose col­lec­tion and see there is one called Tess of the D’Ur­bervilles and it is de­scribed as “hardy”, which is a hoot con­sid­er­ing the au­thor­ship of the book.

This pic­tured rose, so pre­cisely furled and folded it looks like liv­ing origami, was snapped about 10 weeks ago in the 1930s-de­signed gar­dens at Her­itage Hill Mu­seum in Dan­de­nong on the out­skirts of Mel­bourne. I don’t know its name but it was en­snar­ing love at first sight — I cer­tainly wanted to wait a while.

Fol­low on In­sta­gram: su­sankuro­sawa

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