Saturday, May 07, 2011

A Foreign Country

Western  Australia is even drier now than the last time I came. While the rest of Australia has been drowning,  the drought has continued here. Even the usually resilient native plants are looking brown and dead with only the primeval looking zamias and grass trees still poking up their heads. There are no wild flowers now and only the screech of brightly coloured parrots breaks the silence. Except that I speak the language here, this is  as strange a country as any I visited last year.


Even the usually resilient native plants are showing signs of stress
The gardens  are very different here too. With few exceptions it is not about flowers and prettiness. It's about structure, texture and grand statements. The few gardens lucky enough to have abundant water look like tropical oases, lush with their palms, but with prolonged water restrictions, many people have give up. Front yards are bare brown earth decorated with rocks rather than lawns or perhaps the occasional cactus, peppercorn tree, eucalypt or olive. A strange mix of natives and exotics, desert and Mediterranean. Much more sensible really in a water poor environment but it makes me feel nervous and insecure. I want to see veggie patches and fruit trees. 

Jumgliferous. What a difference a little water makes

Mostly though, gardens look more like this -(double click on these to get the effect!)

 ....bare earth behind ornate gates and high fences

                                  It's about structure, texture, foliage and contrasts
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Texture

Almost Mediterranean

Succulents, natives and rocks

Rocks

Olives
Cactus

Temple of the Four Winds? I fully expected to find a Greek temple at the top of these stone steps    
where cypresses whisper, but no, it was BBQ equipment and outdoor furniture.
WA is a hedonistic kind of place.               
Occasionally there's a dazzling burst of tropical colour
 From desert -hardy Bougainvilleas



Or more occasionally still, a touch of humour or whimsy
(Double click on the terra cotta sign to see what happened here in 1857)

Public Service - This dog's dish is on the footpath outside for the benefit of passing dogs
(there are a lot of dog walkers here).

You may wonder  why I have included this picture and the humble dog's dish.
These things wouldn't be significant anywhere else. It's just that WA generally strikes me
as a hard -edged
materialistic place, that they come as a surprise.
There is certainly wealth here, but it usually doesn't translate into much public spiritedness.
  There doesn't seem to be  much soul.   I suspect most people are too busy working,
wresting those riches from the earth





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