it's that time of year and the jacarandas are in bloom again. Those mauve trees are so good that if they didn't exist we'd have to invent one. A print of this one is mounted on our wall:
The original was painted in 1903 by R. Godfrey Rivers, a significant figure in the history of painting locally, and is in the Queensland art gallery. This one is across our street:
Apparently it's descended from the one in the picture, because "ALL of the jacarandas carpeting Brisbane come from a single tree planted in the City Botanic Gardens by superintendent Walter Hill in 1864." ( article last year in the Courier Mail). "It is considered to be the first jacaranda planted in Australia and is featured in perhaps Queensland's most famous painting..."
The jacaranda is not indigenous to Australia, so how did the one in the painting get here?
"Wheat was exported to Argentina, Brazil and Chile in those days and the ships would come back empty except for gneiss ballast rocks," gardens curator Mr McKinnon said. "Hill got the rocks for the gardens and also got a jacaranda seed from a ship's captain. The rocks are still used widely around the gardens."
The tree alas was blown over in a storm in 1980. Mr. McKinnon keeps a slab cut from its bough in his office.
For many years, now-retired John Massey, the gallery's canny senior education officer, would have baskets of blossoms picked up from the park and deposited on the floor in front of the painting, as though they had fallen from it overnight. He would show school children around, exciting them with the mystery of the spring blooms.
Labels: in my neighbourhood