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Published: August 19th 2014
In Australia there's always time to smell the flowers.
When we travel our senses are heightened by each new sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.
So much we take for granted...relationships, possessions, health, safety, food and fun...and then there was the music.
Recently when I visited Perth I experienced all of these things...and more.
In quieter moments...sometimes its nice to just be there...no strings attached...just enjoying the splashes of colour that Mother Nature throws our way.
Cindy looked after me on Day One...see my blog PIRATE FOR A LITTLEWING DAY...The "Duyfken"
Day Two a work day...really worthwhile to have crossed the continent for what we achieved.
Then my client took me to see the sights...and spend some time smelling the flowers.
Western Australia is famous for its mineral wealth, massive deserts, ancient lands, extensive wild coastines...and native flowers.
I don't travel to visit gardens but when I'm in such places...or in the bush...I can't help but notice those splashes of colour on nature's palete...and I know without them the World would be a pretty drab place.
So I've often found myself stopping to marvel at what nature throws up...and it's diversity has
always excited me...or my senses.
When Denise and I married I couldn't handle the concept of living in a home unit...an apartment...felt I needed open spaces...but I think I just needed a garden...yeh...I think I just needed a garden...a few plants to call my own.
My first Obsession
Reminds me of my first obsession...certainly one of them.
Hard to believe but...I got into exhibiting Cacti and Succulents...not just exhibiting...but competing! And then they changed the rules to get rid of me!!!
On our honeymoon we had a ski lodge to ourselves on Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Mountains.
We also had the use of a putt-putt boat in which we explored that massive lake and its sunken forests.
On returning to the shore one day a piece of wood floating in the water caught my eye. It was about four feet long...hollowed out...a bit like an open ended canoe...with little notches for feet.
I immediately knew what it was for.
I fished it out of the water and threw it on the bank.
Denise walked over and threw it back in.
The Emblem of Western Australia - Anigozanthos Manglesii
it out again...she threw it back in!
I had to go back for it later.
Seeing it on the roof racks Denise had to say "I knew you'd go back and get it."
One of the things I loved about my new bride...we often did not have to say anything...but knew what each other was thinking...uncanny but true.
My employer in those days used to send me on the Workers Compensation Commission Newcastle and Wollongong Circuit sittings when we had cases there.
One of these days I was munching on a sandwich looking through a window of a Catholic Missions Shop in Wollongong...hundreds of little cacti in plastic pots.
Then I noticed they were all different.
So I had to go in to comment...ended buying some...more on the next visit...more on the visit after that.
That piece of wood in Lake Eucumbene...perfect desert terrarium container me thought.
Taking on the big boys...the NSW Show
I sat on the kitchen floor one night at 8.30 pm with the piece of wood, some soil and zillions of pots of tiny cacti.
Western Australia - Eucalyptus
at 4.30 am.
I called it "The Hall of the Cactus King".
Told the guy in the Missions Shop when next in Wollongong.
"You should put it in our next Show...its on Saturday week" he said.
So I joined the Cactus & Succulent Society of New South Wales and registered my cactus garden in their Winter Show in the Section for Dish Gardens.
The Hall of the Cactus King
I scored nothing...and was pretty pissed off.
The other entries had Mexicans smoking cotton wool...round or rectangular dishes with some amazing plants...but artistically...didn't come close to my "Hall of the Cactus King" in it's amazing piece of wood.
So I had to ask the Judges..."What's wrong with mine?"
"Your plants are crap. Look...some of them have points on the top...obviously not getting enough light...otherwise we love it."
Ping...brain engaged...wait till next Show.
So I bought some really way out euphorbias and plants to blow them away next time.
There were Winter and Spring Shows to coincide with growing seasons...so I planned my assault of the next Spring Show.
Just before the
next Show I sat on the kitchen floor again...ripped out the crap plants and planted new.
Artistically made "The Hall of the Cactus King" just right.
Even had a mirror as a pool with a rock like a humanoid peering in...thought it was pretty fantastic. First in its Class...my first Champion ribbon
...feeling pretty chuffed...other exhibitors welcoming me to the fold...surprised I didn't have a greenhouse...surprised I could compete successfully at all.
Le Jardin des Fleurs avec le Reg Cacti
Just before the next Show I sat on the kitchen floor again...ripped out the crap plants and planted new.
Now I had tasted success...I wanted more.
And just to make sure I sprinkled shavings from oxidised iron rocks on the surface...and re-named it "Le Jardin des Fleurs avec le Reg Cacti".
It scored a First in the Dish Garden class but a pot of 100 year old cacti won the Champion Ribbon for the Section.
Mmmh...this is probably the only thing in the World I can possibly win a State Championship in...gotta try again.
Purchasing more plants...planning for next time.
Western Australia - Eucalyptus
name is simply "H"
Just before the next Show I sat on the kitchen floor again...ripped out the not absolutely perfect plants and planted new.
This time had kept them under growth lights on a window sill...rotated regularly...adjusted positions for growing perfection.
"Probably my title was too pretentious last time" I thought...no iron oxide highlights either.
This time...it's name is simply "H". "H" won First in its Class...Champion in its Section
...massive ribbon...was photographed to death...even featured in the NSW Journal.
The quality of the artistic presentation of the Dish Garden entries was the talk of the Show...all had upped their game to take on the new guy who exhibits in wood.
But not everyone was pleased.
No sirree...The Importer/Exporter who had won Champion in this Section for the previous 9 Shows was NOT pleased. "My wife told me to tell you...you will NEVER win another Championship"
he barked at me.
And all I could do was laugh...yep...I laughed while he fumed!!!
When you are on a roll...winning at State level...the next challenge is to retain your title...planning "H"'s return...for an encore.
Got the Show
PLUM WINE MAGNOLIA
My place...as are most of the NSW plants in this blog
Schedules for the next Annual Show...an Addendum..."NEW RULE...Dish Gardens Maximum length 22 inches"
You are kidding...they have changed the Rules to disqualify "H".
So the Importer/Exporter was good for his word...he's had "H" banned.
So not to be outdone...I searched the bush behind our house...found a piece of wood within size category... And built..."Son of H"
"Son of H" was OK but didn't have the pinazze of "H"...scored a Second behind the Importer/Exporter.
He strutting around like a Bush Turkey.
Next time it scored First in Dish Gardens but it was lucky I reckon.
So for next time I built "H2"...nothing to write home about...the new boy has been put in his place.
But I was a determined dancer...so I started planning "H3o+".
Then I saw it.
I was walking in the bush behind our place...saw a dead twisted tree root...pulled at it...red back spiders spilling out...yeeka...it's a spider's nest.
The following afternoon Denise sees me in the back yard..."I thought you'd go back for it"...cleaning dirt out of it...reeking of fly spray. And so was born "The Big D"...named after Denise.
red flowers and seed pod -New South Wales
I found a wooden burl that I carved out the inside so it was like a giant walnut...free-standing...diagonal edge...named it "The Kernel".
Lined it with fiberglass. The Ultimate Champion.."The Big D" "The Big D" won Championships two years running.
In its second year I also entered "The Kernel" which came Second.
The quality of the Dish Garden Class was getting better every show...every exhibitor artistically reaching new heights...yet I was blowing them away as I was exhibiting in wood.
Even scored a prize for most unusual container.
"The Big D" was within size and had a "wow" factor that only Mother Nature can provide. Was so successful they changed the Rules again.
Moved Dish Gardens Class into Intermediate and Open Sections where it was impossible to win a Champion ribbon unless your plants were ancient and massive.
So I entered only once more. My Last Bow...with flourish
As I was still a Novice...member of less than 5 years...I entered "The Kernel" in the Intermediate Dish Garden Class and "The Big D" in the Open Class.
RARE GALL ON CASUARINA
The brown pod is a gall/tumour triggered by a female insect. The tree then produces the gall in which the insect lives...New South Wales
D" won First in the Open Class.
"The Kernel" won First in the Intermediate Class.
A two headed cactus I had planted in a plastic toy car with cut out yellow sunglasses and a Mr Potato Head mouth won First in the Novelty Section.
A monkey face I carved out of a coconut came second.
Only made the humourous ones as a one fingered salute to the politics of the NSW Society.
Pretty funny they scored a First and Second!
I left with a smile on my face.
Then one day I was walking to a lighthouse and picked up a piece of wood...looks like a large hand I thought. And so began my next obsession...Exhibition Woodcarving...but that's another story.
Years later I'm at the Hawkesbury Show...second biggest in NSW...just won Joint Champion in the Woodcarving Section. My carved flowering wooden plant had tied with a chest of drawers!!!
The beauty of exhibiting is you have no idea what you'll be competing with.
Looking at other exhibits...checking out the Cacti & Succulents...chatting to an exhibitor...asked me my name.
"I know that name" he
Anigozanthos "Big Red"
"I was on the Committee of the NSW Society and years ago we changed the Rules to get rid of you because you were too successful as an amateur but not a professional grower.
Recently there's a grower in Queensland they are trying to get rid of because they say he's too professional!!!"
I walked around Kings Park with my Client...overlooking Perth as sunset broke behind us...wandering among the wildflowers...flowering gums...kangaroo paws...chatting away...taking our time.
Then various spots on the Swan River to see the lights of Perth in dazzling array.
She took me to Ellington's Jazz Club for dinner.
Cosy little club...front row table just as if it was waiting for us...a band of guys just out of school...a mixture of exhuberence, shyness and cool...followed by a band of five maestros each on sax...pretty slick.
The lights of Perth smiling...the still night air...the city heading to rest like a flower bud closing.
What a fabulous time I've had in Perth...Thank you Cindy...Thank you Lynda...it's been a revelation.
I'll be back...and next time I'll bring Denise.
Relax & Enjoy,
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