In Christmas’s past we’ve explored almonds and marzipan, sugar and glace fruits, frankincense and myrrh, Christmas trees and the rather gothic interpretations of Santa and his flying reindeer. For this Christmas Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, a rare celebration of economic botany, provides the botany of Christmas.
Lilacs are one of my favourite flowers. The wonderfully fragrant flowers borne at the ends of branches contrast perfectly with the glossy, dark-green heart-shaped leaves. While widely available lilacs are often considered rather old-fashioned – associated more with older gardens than modern, at least in Australia.Read more "Lilac time"
In Adelaide, the Botanic Gardens are part of our lives. We’re introduced to the beautiful gardens in prams, brought in as toddlers to explore, join pre-school visits and school excursions, court in the Gardens, marry in the Gardens, introduce our own children to the Gardens and celebrate anniversaries and milestones here. As we age, perhaps we explore the Gardens more deeply to reveal other sides of its character, introduce our grandchildren, and eventually our children or friends bring us here. The Gardens are as much a gallery of memories as a gallery of plants.Read more "Controlled patience – beauty & truth"
As a botanist working in a botanic garden I’m fortunate to have access to flowers year round with, as an example close to my office, the outrageous displays of aloes in Adelaide Botanic Garden beginning in mid-winter. Nevertheless Spring’s a time for celebration, not simply for the promise of warmer weather, but for the abundance of Spring flowers.Read more "… you start liking flowers"
2013 was the International Year of Quinoa – as there hasn’t been a crop that’s had this honour since, perhaps it’s still not too late to consider quinoa. The story of quinoa is an important one beyond the fashionable marketing hyperbole of quinoa as a ‘superfood’, and perhaps especially important if you suffer from gluten intolerance.Read more "Quinoa – A Pseudocereal (Or Is That Keen-Wah?)"
The story of glass houses, as displayed in Adelaide Botanic Garden, is a powerful one spanning three centuries, but rarely read in a coherent way. Botanical historian, Frans Stafleu, suggests the narrative might begin with Luca Ghini at Pisa botanic garden in 1547.Read more "Adelaide Botanic Garden’s three centuries of glass"
Winston Churchill is supposed to have observed, “The gin & tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire”Read more "Gin & Tonic – contemporary economic botany"