Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Soiled and Seeded Issue 6: Branching Out

"Exploring the varied collaboration between people and plants, we aim to cultivate a sensibility that strengthens our connection to the natural world".

The above is one of the aims of Soiled and Seeded, an online quarterly magazine "Cultivating a garden culture". It is an interesting, very varied publication- well worth checking out- and I was only too happy to contribute an article to this Winter's issue in their section Branching Out. Entitled "A Tree's Value", needless to say it is about trees! Link:
And here are a couple of my photos included in the article- a Coral Tree and a Silk Floss Tree:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

L.A.NDSCAPES 11 Exhibit

If you are in LA, check out LACDA's (Los Angeles Center for Digital Art) "L.A.NDSCAPES 11" exhibit, where you will see two of my photos- one of a Painted Bark Eucalyptus and another of a Palm tree trunk against a Palisades Park Ocean sunset...

The opening reception was held tonight in conjunction with the Downtown Artwalk:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

In my recent post about the Rainbow Eucalyptus, I mentioned how the trees I found were opposite UCLA's Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. Well, needless to say, after wallowing in the excitement of the Eucalyptus', I explored the Garden to my great enjoyment. It does not cover a large area, but because it is set in a hollow with paths winding about between dense trees, it seems much larger than it actually is.

The garden - started in 1929 - has undergone many changes over the years under different Directors and has been widely used for experimentation in growing tropical trees and plants. For instance, it was one of the first places in LA to grow different varieties of Eucalyptus trees. In 1971 it was given Mildred E. Mathias' name, she having been a long-term Director and a botanical pioneer, researching into and introducing new flowers and trees to the country- as well as being an early environmentalist.

It is wonderful to find yourself stepping off the road and suddenly plunging into this exotic world. How lucky UCLA students are to have this shady refuge on their doorstep. What a delightful place to- as I did- have a picnic lunch...

One of the first trees I came across was in fact another Rainbow Eucalyptus- Eucalyptus deglupta- but the bark of this one was, at this time, more subdued than the ones I had been photographing on the street:

Another beautiful Eucalyptus there was a Eucalyptus grandis, or Rose Gum:

And when I first entered the garden I got really excited by a grove of Eucalyptus maculata- or Spotted Gum- the patterns of their peeling bark being like a black-and-grey version of the London Plane tree:

And then I discovered another Eucalyptus, with a very different bark- Eucalyptus botryoides, or Southern mahogany:

This next tree could not be mistaken for a Eucalyptus! It is an Agonis flexuosa, or Willow myrtle:

Now I come to a tree that astonished me: it is yet another variety of Ficus tree, Ficus racemosa, or Cluster Fig. What amazed me was the way the figs grow out of the bark instead of on the ends of branches. To me, they looked as if they were the work of a Designer, who had scattered them onto the surface of a tree for a shop window display!

And here is another Ficus- Ficus gnapthalocarpa, or Sandpaper Fig. This time it was the geometric pattern of the bark that caught my eye:

It was the crazily peeling bark that attracted me to this next tree too- a Melaleuca styphelioides, or Prickly Paperbark:

I am always fascinated by Palm trees bark formations, however often I see them. First, a Brahea armata, or Blue Hesper Palm:

Secondly, a Butia capitata, or Jelly Palm:

Arriving down at the bottom of the hollow, beside a stream was this collection of Bamboos. When I first looked at them, I was upset that they had been so covered in name carvings- then it occurred to me that they actually looked like some wonderful Egyptian sculpture- or the spines of antique, leather-bound books. Sad as it was that they had not been respected as living organisms, at least they were still beautiful...

Here are some more- uncontaminated- bamboos:

And here is a group of the many Turtles that bask in the sun on the shores of the stream:

Finally, I took a look up into the sky, to the tops of Palm trees and Dawn Redwoods:

I have only mentioned the particular trees that caught my eye, but there is so much more to see- it is well worth a visit...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rainbow Eucalyptus

I fell in love with the Eucalyptus deglupta tree when I first came across one in Los Angeles' Huntington Botanical Gardens several years ago (and later used its bark as my logo on both my business card and website). Apart from being a magic tree, it has two magic common names: Rainbow Eucalyptus and Painted Bark Eucalyptus, both descriptive of it's multicoloured bark. Like other Eucalyptus' it sheds its bark- but in this case the lower layer is a vivid green. As different layers mature, they change colour- to orange, purples and blues, dark maroon being the final colour- resulting in fantastic paint brushstroke-like streaks.

A week ago I was reminded of them when reading up about the different varieties of Eucalyptus (of which there are 734!) and immediately longed to go to Hawaii where there are some spectacular examples of these painted trees. This being out of the question, I Googled to find some nearer to me than the one in the Huntington Gardens. I tracked down a row of them at UCLA opposite the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, which I had never visited. Fortunately a Big Blue Bus took me virtually from door to door. These particular trees are comparatively small- as they can grow up to over 200ft with a trunk girth of 8ft- but I was enchanted by them and had a wonderful, happy time examining and photographing them. Here are some of the results:

Not only are the colours and patterns of the bark engrossing, but so are the sometimes almost human or animal and sometimes bone-like shapes of their limbs:

I find these protuberances that look as if they have been woodturned on a lathe quite wonderful:

I will conclude with some brush strokes of colour: