Monday, 11 June 2012

National Arboretum, Canberra.

Sound on.
           Yesterday I went out to have a look at the National Arboretum here in Canberra and was very impressed at it's" masterpiece in the making" type of idea.
Date, these pics were taken is 10th June 2012. One of the few days that it has been open to the public. Although it will be open each Sunday during Floriade, if you can get to see that and are interested.
 I bought a book while I was there so I could actually remember the details and quote them correctly.
The National Arboretum was started in 2004 when a competition was launched to design the area.
The arboretum covers an area of 250 hectares that were specially allotted to the purpose.
The area was previously a pine plantation that was razed in the 2003 terrible bush fires that swept through the area.
 The winning designers were Taylor Cullity Lethlean Architects and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects with the winning concept being "100 Forests, 100 Gardens". A long term planting of rare, threatened and symbolic species of trees for study, preservation and future generations.
It is 6 km south west of the civic center of Canberra.
I think in that shaky looking video that I took half way up Dairy farmer's hill I erroneously said that there were 46 forests already planted of the 100. That was wrong, at the present time there are more than that. None except the Himalayan cedars are mature at this stage.
The official opening is to be held in 2013 which is Canberra's 100th birthday.
The finished site is also to be the official home of the national penzing and bonsai collection which is at present housed in the park in the center of Canberra. It will also include an information/visitors center and children's play area, cafe/ retail outlet, plus interpretative self guided and guided tours and an area to hold concerts and events. There have already been opera/music events held there, with more planned in the future. No, I haven't been to any .....yet.
 The pic above is of a sculpture in place of a wedge tail eagle and nest made from recycled steel. Larger than life, like it's subject. The wedge tail eagle is the biggest eagle in Australia and second in size only to the American bald eagle on the world scale.  It is placed at the summit of dairy farmer's hill. I walked up the steep side, puff puffing all the way , I should have driven along the road, hahaha. Oh well it was still a nice way to spend a sunny Sunday in winter, and a great way to put the old heart rate up. I made a few rest stops along the way. It was well worth it for the view. A 360 degree view across the whole area.
 Up the top of the hill are a few of these Aleppo pines which survived the 2003 bush fires. Aleppo pines have special significance as they are symbolic of the trees on Gallipoli, where Australian soldiers landed and were slaughtered during the first world war, but held the area regardless of their difficulties.
This pic is from the top of Dairy Farmer's hill, looking towards the civic center, you can see why Canberra is called the bush capital. The bare grassed areas you can see below the hill are nearly all planted with young trees to develop into the forests for the site.
Also impressive; you can see the dam at the bottom of the site. It is at the bottom of a thoughtfully terraced area that runs down between two hills, designed to slow running water in times of heavy rain and stop erosion plus hold the water in place so that it can be stored and used within the arboretum site.  It is also a great site for flying kites, as quite a few kids were doing yesterday. Other areas beside pathways and roads were covered in natural rock parquetry to also help in curbing erosion in those areas. The arboretum is watered entirely with non potable water.
These next two pics were taken inside the Discovery Garden. It is sponsored by ACTEW, the local electricity/gas/water, services company.
 Hmmm so this is where our money goes. But .... in their favor, they do a lot for the community in support and sponsorship of many events. The garden itself is an educational one, designed  to show that plant placement, plant choice, design and watering etc can be all important to success and conservation of the environment we live in.
 The next pic is of a sculpture made in rusted steel, installed at the top of the hill (don't know it's name) at the other end of the arboretum. It actually says "Wide Brown Land" which is a line from the poem by Dororthea MacKellar called  "My Country"! Cool eh! I walked about a 1/4 of the way down the hill to get this pic but still couldn't fit all of it in.

 Just to the north and at the top of the hill, to the Wide Brown Land sculpture, is a matured forest area of Himalayan Cedar trees. Inside this forested area of the arboretum is a picnic and BBQ area and underneath the trees were many of these fantastic red mushrooms. Poisonous of course but very pretty. It is a pity though that many of them had been stomped on. By adults or children, I wonder. What a waste.
 Mushroom's view of the Himalayan Cedars.
Driving around the whole site later, I saw the planted areas which were sign posted with names and descriptions of the trees there as well as the reason for the plantings and some of that species uses. Very well done.
One lady, a helper, that I was talking to, said to me that many of the trees there would not be mature for 50 years. Beyond my life time.
 But can you imagine the beauty of walking through the forest of silver birch trees down at the bottom of the hill when they are mature. At the height of their autumn beauty with their bright golden leaves fluttering and falling around you in a gentle breeze?
Or the forest of Arbutus with their bright red fruits above you, when the trees at the steep side of dairy farmer's hill is mature?
Or standing within the dappled sunlight in a forest of one of the many eucalypti forests on a hot summer day and breathing deeply of their resinous scent?
 The colors, scents and movement of the beauty of a forest. Albeit, a man made one, are magical.
Pure Magic!
 I am sure over the coming years I will return to the arboretum many times to watch it's progress.
Playing tourist in my own back yard and learning while I do so.
 That's all.
Love Linda.