Flower power, far and wild
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.
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