Tag Archives: sculpture

Palermo’s English garden

 Paul and I have been in Italy  for a month, and we have enjoyed many wonderful Italian green spaces, so I’m turning Canberra’s Green Spaces into Italy’s Green Spaces for a month or so.

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this stunning Cathedral in Palermo was built in 1184 and has been transformed and re-built many times over the centuries.

Two years ago Paul retired to begin a PHD, and eighteen months later he was accepted to give a paper at an International Conference in Palermo, the capital city of Sicily. He is a good example of how retirement can bring a new and rewarding chapter to your life…and I’m very much enjoying being his support team and blogging about green spaces at the same time!

Palermo is a teeming colourful city with a grand history reflected in its buildings. It was once known as ”the garden city” because of its parks. These parks are centered around the city and are well used, and much needed with a population of city dwellers.

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Whenever we travel, I look for the parks to restore my energy….no more so than in  Palermo. This beautiful and well kept park is named The English Garden (Giardino Inglese) after a style of landscape that emerged in England in the 18th Century and spread across Europe.

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This style, typically, presented an idealised view of nature, and usually included, a lake or water feature, and gently rolling lawns set amongst groves of trees.

In the background of the photo below, a gardener is hand watering the lawn. Palermo has very hot summers and water must be precious.

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In the 18th Century parks were a sign of power and wealth, and were designed to compete and impress. Plants from all over the world were imported to create an exotic environment.

The banana trees do look exotic in this park, and fig trees are wonderfully sheltering and cool on a hot summer’s day.

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This English garden has many sculptures and a temple designed by Ernesto Basile, inspired by Arab-Norman architecture.

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Unfortunately, not all the fountains were active the day we were there, but what a peaceful cool place to sit..

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There is an impressive statue of Guiseppe Garibaldi  on the opposite side of the Viale della Liberta sculpted by Vincenzo Ragusa in 1891.

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I often notice people reading in parks, and this fig tree is giving wonderful shade and protection to its readers.

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In cities teeming with millions of people, where living conditions are often cramped, parks are such a vital part of the city. Here in Palermo  they are used all day long …

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And here we have a group of young school children, being brought to the park by a wonderful young teacher and her assistant…as the children held onto a rope, the teacher sang a song all the way across four lanes of crazy traffic….what a class act!

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We visited many parks in Palermo, not all as well kept as this one, but all being used and enjoyed, probably more today than at any other time.

Copyright Geraldine  Mackey. All rights reserved.

 

I hope you can join me again soon to look at Villa Giulia in Palermo…this park had many plants very similar to the ones of my childhood home in Zambia (Central Africa) Nothing like plants to bring back memories!

 

A morning walk at the National Arboretum

Recently the National Arboretum of Canberra opened new walking tracks and these have already become very popular with walkers in Canberra.

The Arboretum has more than 48 000 trees in 100 forests, and has been under development since 2003.

We started at a midpoint along the track…..at the top of Dairy Farmer Hill….seen in the distance in this photo. The Village Centre is on the right, the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion on the left, and a grassy amphitheatre for concerts in the centre.

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The Village Centre is on the right and the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion is on the left, and a grassy amphitheatre in between the buildings. Dairy Farmers Hill in the distance

Standing at the top of Dairy Farmers Hill is a sculpture called Nest III, welded from discarded steel objects, mostly abandoned farm machinery found on farms around the region. The artist is Richard Moffatt.

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the eagle looks out over the Arboretum, Lake Burley Griffin and the city.

While we were there a magpie was feeding her chick perched on the nest alongside that formidable looking eagle. Nice to see.

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The Smokebush trees, the Saharan Cypress and the Canary Island Stawberry tree

This is a view of three of the forests below our path, leading down to the Village Centre.

Here is the purple-leaved Smokebush. Jackie French, a well known gardener and writer in Canberra once said that the Smokebush in her garden was the most asked about plant in her extensive garden!

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The Smokebush is a garden hybrid and is widely used in parks and gardens, particularly for colour contrast.

In spring, fruits begin to form, hidden amongst a network of fine fluffy stems, giving the effect of clouds of coral pink smoke, hence the name Smokebush. During November the ”smoke” will turn dark red, and the stems will loose their fluffiness as the tiny dark red fruits appear.

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Smokebush with tiny dark red fruits appearing. Further down the path are the Saharan cypress. In the distance is Black Mountain Tower.

As we walk down the hill we come to the Saharan cypress, considered to be endangered, with only 230 naturally occurring trees known to exist. In the Sahara, nomads shelter under the trees and their herds eat fallen cones, which in turn leads to fewer cypress trees growing.

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Cupressus dupreziana, common name Saharan cypress.

 

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The guide with me was pleased to see cones appearing on one of the trees, a sure sign they have adapted to life in Canberra!

 

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Mediterranean Red Bud

Just before we reach the Village Centre we come to a forest where the trees are commonly called Judas Trees, or European Red Bud. This species grows in the Middle East and southern Europe, in woodlands, on stony arid slopes, and along banks of rivers. Here they are surviving well on a sloping part of the hill.

There is a long standing belief that  Judas Iscariot hanged himself on one of these trees, thus the name, but it could also have come from the French common name, Arbre de Judee, meaning the ”tree of Judea” referring to the hilly regions of the country where it is most common.

 

As we arrive at of the Village Centre, I took a photo of the beautiful stone walls with Acacias and grasses growing happily in the front. Very low maintenance!

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There is an lookout right next to the Village Centre and these two beautiful trees were planted nearby.

I was not surprised to see they were the oldest Japanese black pines grown in Australia from imported seeds, and styled as Niwika, similar to Bonsai.

 

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Meanwhile, on this sunny spring day, a family is already taking advantage of the grassy amphitheatre to fly a kite.

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Another lovely green space in Canberra!