Friday, February 4, 2011

water lilies

I was so very glad that I made time to go into the Botanic Garden in Adelaide - full of parrakeets playing their own specialized Angry Bird screeches - and also home to some tremendous waterlilies.   The two images on the left are especially appropriate to a Victorian conference: they are Victoria Amazonia, handsomely housed and happily spreading in their new water-lily house.   The ones on the right are the common or garden variety, growing in their own dense lake, with mid-pink flowers curling up like giant camellias.   

Victoria Regia - as she was once known - was, of course, first grown really successfully in England by Joseph Paxton - for the Duke of Devonshire - who used coal-powered boilers to get the temperature to the right swampy consistency (given the hot muggy air in Adelaide, the glasshouse, indeed, seemed a bit superfluous ...).


Paxton posed his daughter standing on a water lily leaf (I'm not sure whether these ones would hold anything much heavier than a large cat, though).   I should have tried for a more underwater angle, since the formation of ribbed stems on the underside of the leaves of this plant -  "like transverse girders and supports" - formed the inspiration for the structure of the Crystal Palace.   Here, however, the structure of this particular building is reflected, indicating much more rectilinear lines - architectural counterpoint, rather than mimicry.

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