Home / Essays / 2015 / May / Tamborine Mountain Springtime

Tamborine Mountain Springtime

Springtime in Queensland Australia is generally pretty hard to discern.

There is never much in the way of a real winter – no snow or even frost. So spring is just a few weeks where the mild winter days give way unspectacularly to the oncoming heat of summer. But somehow, even in Queensland, the plants do know about spring.

Here in a lovely Tamborine Mountain garden, this calla lily was just one of hundreds of things in the garden that were sprouting, unfurling and flowering up.

At first I thought this photo was a bit of a flop. I wanted the perfect whiteness of the curving white outer flower – correctly known as a bract or a spathe – to contrast starkly against the dark green background of leaves.

Then there was to be the golden phallic shape of the spandix, which is the home to hundreds of tiny true flowers on its tubular surface.

The central column was to act as a focus for the eye; both with its spectacular colour and the confronting sexual nature of its form and position within the gently curving bract.

And damn me if I only took one shot and there in it, was this bloody bug spoiling everything! But the tiny flowers on the shaft of the spandix don’t have a built in fertilisation method, so the bug is actually an essential part of the lily reproductive system.

So instead of ruining the shot – the bug actually completes it. Or so I tell myself.

Surely self-deception is a highly prized asset in a would-be artist! It seems that when nature figures out a winning structure for something – say sexual reproduction – it just keeps on re-adapting these fundamental forms.

In this case, the attractive colours, shapes and scents together with the necessary functions, seem to work perfectly well for both plants and for us primates.