Wednesday, 27 September 2017

This photograph was taken with my phone through the bus window, so the quality is
poor. You can find much better on the internet.
Hello all,

Sam and I have just returned from a trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock). This trip was in our bucket list for more than 20 years and, finally, we can tick it off.

I've seen pictures of Uluru many times and I knew it was majestic but I was unprepared for the emotions I felt as I stood at its base. I hope it doesn't sound corny but it was almost spiritual. I consider myself a pragmatist and not given to such sentimentality but I was truly moved by the majesty and history, both geological and human of this natural wonder. My limited vocabulary cannot do justice to it.

For my non-Australian readers, the Rock is a giant monolith the second largest in the world, surpassed only by Mount Augustus in Western Australia". Its dimensions are : 348 m above ground, with most of its bulk lying underground, 3.6 km long and 2.4 km wide. It is situated almost in the centre of Australia, in the desert. It is a deeply spiritual place for the Indigenous Australians.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has a number of attractions such as Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), King's Canyon, Uluru/Ayers Rock and at present there is a light installation by artist Bruce Munro called Field of Light. He used 50,000 individually crafted delicate 'light stems'. The area that it covers has been described as equal to seven football fields.

This photograph is from a great distance of the light installation in the foreground
and Uluru in the background

We walked through this surreal installation after having enjoyed a sumptuous dinner under the stars in the desert. We only had candle light on our tables and, after the meal, the lights were turned off so that we could appreciate the night sky. Without the usual light pollution, the stars were brilliant. I've never seen the Milky Way so clearly before. It was magical!

Again, I don't want to turn this into a travelogue, so I leave it to those of you who are interested to find out more about this place. I can honestly say that it is well worth the effort and cost involved to get there. The only down side, for me, was the heat - high thirties every day. Perhaps we should have gone in winter.

One more thing, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of vegetation in the desert. I did not expect to see so many trees and bushes that have evolved in this very harsh environment  but, we were told, that there have been unusually good rains in the last 18 months. There were even lawn areas around the resort we stayed in.

Among the many fascinating plants, this Grevillea Bush Lemons was the first plant to catch my eye as we drove into the resort. From a distance it looks like little parrots sitting on the tips of branches. We were told that the flowers have nectar which the Aborigines suck without removing the flowers from the bush. They also use the nectar to mix with water to make a sweet drink. 

Oh, and I had to include this iconic Sturt's Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa), a favourite of mine. 
And now back to ikebana.

At our last Ikebana International meeting, our guest speaker was Dr Peter Haeusler, an expert on clivias, whose talk on the subject was most informative.

I volunteered to do the demonstration using clivias. Unfortunately, I had no actual flowers in my garden though I had plenty of buds and leaves. Under the circumstances, I decided I would do something creative with the leaves. This proved to be more difficult than I imagined. The leaves are not very versatile, as they snap when bent near the base. They don't split very well and have the tendency to look quite boring when used naturalistically. I did, however, discover that they can last, very well, without water for at least two weeks.

Below are the  photographs of my two attempts.

I used the split in the container to wedge the leaves
creating the curves. The flowers are not going
sideways but coming forward

This was a little bit of fun. I twisted the leaves together
and pushed them into each 'cone' of the container 
and added one berry

For more photographs from our meeting, please go to

Vicky recently pruned her kiwi vine and kindly offered some cuttings to me. So I went to town with them -

Original wall arrangement with calla lilies and
alstroemeria leaves

After the lilies died I replaced them with a
cymbidium orchid stem and flowering broom

The original arrangement in a container I made myself. I used
monstera deliciosa flowers with the kiwi vine

And after the monstera flowers died I replaced them with two
cymbidium orchid stems. If you look closely, you'll see that 
there are leaves growing on the vine.

'Arrangements on the Table':

Vicky used clivias, alstroemeria leaves and wisteria vine in this very shiny
stainless steel container

Bredenia used Bird's nest fern and clivias

I used only calla lilies in another self made container
I think this is probably enough.
Bye for now,


  1. Thanks for sharing the story of your trip and photos of Ayers Rock.

    I like the pottery containers you made, especially the one you used with the kiwi vine.

  2. This is awesome graph man. I loved your photo and you can see mine too Shitnya