Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adelaide Botanic Garden - Park Life Part 1

4th October, 2010 - Well, we're still suffering from our "Spring cold" - this is the fourth day L-kun's had a 39+ degC temperature at night. As a result, I thought I'd post something that was bright and colourful.... About 3-4 weeks ago we looking for something to do...  It was a public holiday monday (Labour Day) - and we were originally going to go up for a drive to the Adelaide Hills. As the day passed by we just couldn't get our act together. Looking to salvage the afternoon and still get out and enjoy the good weather, we went to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in the city instead. We got to the city... hmmm there seemed to be a lot of young people enjoying the gardens. An awful lot of young people.

It was then that we saw the sign advertising the Park Life 2010 dance concert that makes it's way around Australia every Spring. Depending on how you look at it, we either chose a very good day to come (and hear the music for free) or a very bad day (no quiet strolls through the garden today!). All in all it was amazing that we got a car park only 60m from the front gate of the gardens. Sometimes you know that you're just lucky.
North Terrace entrance to the Botanic Gardens

Still L-kun had a few more years to enjoy being part of the youth culture. I wonder what the world will be like when he's 20? I'm sure by that stage spending time with his parents will be far from his thoughts. Even now he was more concerned about checking out the dental hygiene of the garden's guardian dog statues... actually they kind of reminded me of the komainu or Japanese guard dogs that appear in shrines.

Now I have to admit that whilst we've got a reasonable sized modern suburban garden (at least by Adelaide standards), I am by no means a gardener. It's all I can do to not kill things. I succeed sometimes. I say this as a way of prefacing this post with a plea... don't ask me any botanical questions. Onegaishimasu.

I had been expecting the botanic gardens to be replete with beautiful colours... however, most of the gardens plants are not the spring-bloom variety (with the exception of the rose garden... but I'll get to that shortly). The  Adelaide Botanic Garden has been going for about 153 years now (first opened in 1857). When you consider that South Australia was only founded (as a European colony) in 1836... it's not doing too badly.

Clivia... native from South Africa... Not South Australia

One of the signature buildings within the Adelaide Botanic Gardens is the Old Palm House; a giant and elaborate hot house. The building was actually designed Gustav Runge in Bremen, Germany; this particular one was transported to South Australia and assembled in 1876. I can't imagine the scene of Adelaide back then...  They were already establishing the image of their European lives here on the other side of the planet, only 30 years after Europeans first set foot on their new colony.
The Palm House

And why, I hear you ask, is it referred to as the (Old) Palm House? Well, simply put... those colonials were not an imaginative lot. So if they called it a Palm House, then it jolly well better have a palm in it. And true to their word - that's exactly what they did.
Inside the Palm House

The only odd thing about this... is well... you don't need hot houses to grow palms in Adelaide's climate... so the whole thing was kind of redundant. Someone clearly had a good sales-pitch in ol' Bremen Town (where it clearly was too cold to grow palms without a hot house). Still, I'm kinda glad they did bring it over, as it adds a certain oddball charm to the gardens.

One of the newer attractions of the Botanic Gardens is the Amazon Water Lily Pavilion... this glass house was opened in 2007... Over 130 years after the Palm House was erected. 

Unfortunately, we haven't become any more imaginative with our naming in those 130 years. That's right... in the Amazon Water Lily Pavilion, you'll find a giant Amazonian Water Lily. In bloom.

And they are a beautiful plant... but be prepared for some hot and sticky micro-climate in the glass-house. It's a hot old place, and I can't imagine it in the middle of summer.

I always think of icebergs when I see water lilies...and indeed much of the plant lives under the water, unknown to the world of the dry.

The water-lily leaf structures are amazing... and somewhat gruesome close up. Looks not unlike a venus fly-trap, and we half expected it to snap shut as we were watching it.

L-kun was quite into this display, and T-chan steps in for a tantalizing profile shot. Come on T-chan, smile for the camera!

Well - we were all hungry by this time... and we stopped off at the Simpson Kiosk... <please insert the Simpsons theme song into your consciousness here>. There are a few places to grab a bite to eat, or drink in the gardens... and this is definitely the low-key option. As far as food goes, it's ok... but don't expect too much, and don't expect cheap. It's nice however in that you can grab a seat under the shade, or overlooking the small artificial lake.

L-kun can be a little temperamental when it comes to food... and on this day he spotted another child eating an ice-cream. A parent's dilemma... expressed so clearly by the tear-streaked cheeks of your child. Unfortunately, the lesson that you can't always get what you want can be as much a lesson in perseverance for parents. Today we won that battle.

The good thing about children is that once you can start to change their mood, it can change very quickly... and then the clouds part and the sun's rays shine forth. Taking the shoes off and feeling the grass between your toes is one way to improve your mood. Because we live a Japanese-lifestyle at home... we have a strong sense of the inside and the outside worlds. Shoes are definitely an outside thing... so running around barefoot outside is generally not something L-kun does a lot of. But of course, all children love to run around barefoot.

That and playing a quick game of hide-and-seek with Daddy.... although I suspect that he may have been cheating just slightly. Peek-a-boo! (or inai inai baa! in Japanese). The fact that there was only the one large tree to hide behind didn't detract at all from the game (in L-kun's mind). The idea is simple.... hide behind the tree, and I'll pretend not to know that you're there... 

And who was I to deny my son the simple pleasures in life on this fine Spring public-holiday?

Some more simple Japanese lessons:
Dog - inu ()
Cold (as in having a cold) - kaze (風邪)... actually this is the same word as wind, though the kanji is slightly different as you only use  when talking about the wind.
Please (requesting) - onegaishimasu ( お願いします)
Park  - kouen (公園)
Garden - niwa ()
Spring - haru ()
Peek-a-boo! - inai inai baa! (いないいないばあ)


  1. thanks for the Japanese lesson at the end, refreshed a few words I knew while teaching me a few new ones

  2. Nothing like a refresher every now and then.