P365 – Day 156 tread lightly

It was World Environment Day today, and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens held its annual TreadLightly EnviroFest
Last year was the first time I attended, and I had a wonderful day exploring all of the stalls and activities, and listening to the speakers. I learnt a lot and I came away with a lot to think about.
This year was a bit different, and I went with Juniordwarf, Lil Sis and Mum. Despite the winter weather, we had a great time. Juniordwarf was very excited to be able to take his Aunt and his Nanna to show them his favourite place in the Gardens, the ‘Cold House’ (technically the Subantarctic Plant House, but it’s about four degrees (Celcius) in there, so his name is perfectly apt).
I caught some of the amazing Peter Cundall’s talk on growing vegetables in Tasmania.
This gentleman is an absolute inspiration. I remember seeing him on TV when I was much younger in the days of Gardening Tasmania, and used to watch him regularly when that show morphed into Gardening Australia.
I own a beautiful first edition copy of his Year Round Gardening book, published in 1985 (which I was able to find in a second hand bookstore after lusting after the copy held by the Library) and I enjoy reading his articles in Organic Gardener magazine. 
I missed most of what he actually said about growing veges (other than that cauliflowers need the trace element molybdenum and beetroot needs boron and that you should sow beetroot seeds yourself, not buy seedlings).
What really got my attention was the man himself. He is 84 years old, but you’d never know it. He said that there was nothing wrong with him at all and the last time he went to the doctor for an illness was over 40 years ago.
He puts his good health down to a healthy lifestyle – most specifically gardening, which is all the exercise he needs (he asks ‘did you ever see a happy jogger?’), and growing his own food. 
I compared myself to him. I lead a rather unhealthy, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, and rely almost solely on others for my food supply. This winter I’ve been constantly sick and have felt rather uninspired and, well, just bleh. Yet here was someone more than twice my age bursting with an energy and enthusiasm I can only dream about.
It certainly gave me something to think about, because I’ve noticed when I’ve made a real effort to improve my diet, such as focusing on fresh, non-processed ingredients and cutting out things like wheat, alcohol and coffee, it’s made a noticeable difference to how I’m feeling, my attitude and energy levels.
And that begs the question why haven’t I stuck with it, if it’s made me feel that much better. I don’t know the answer to that and it’s something I intend to work on.
But that aside, back to the Festival, the other speaker I saw was Paul Healy, who writes about sustainable gardening and raising chickens in the Mercury‘s Saturday Magazine. He breeds Barnevelder poultry, and he brought a couple of these beautiful birds with him to the Festival. Juniordwarf was a bit wary of them, so we didn’t get too close, even though they are apparently a very placid bird.
Last year I listened to all of Paul’s talk on sustainable gardening and other issues around food and the environment, and got a lot out of it. This year I only heard a bit of what he had to say, but that was still interesting.
He was talking about the principle of feeding the soil, rather than feeding the plant. He said that if you feed the plant, you are forcing it to take in everything you give it, regardless of what it actually needs whereas if you feed the soil, the plant will take what it needs and leave what it doesn’t need. He said plants have a sort of intelligence in the sense that they ‘know’ what they need.
I’ve heard a lot of people say to feed the soil. I never really knew why, but this made perfect sense.
Paul referred to a book called The Living Soil, by Lady Balfour, published in 1943, which he says is the soil ‘bible’ and should be your first port of call for more information about this type of gardening. It is out of print, but the State Library has a reference copy.
The other thing I didn’t get to find out as much as I’d have liked to today is Peak Oil,  which is an issue that doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of attention in the climate change debate, where everyone seems to be focused on the proposed carbon tax.
It’s an issue that really frightens me when I think about the implications, but I won’t go there today – it’s a whole other blog post, or more. I might even rant a bit. I don’t think I’ve done a ranty blog post yet.
In the mean time, I think it’s time to use the inspiration from today to actually do something. 
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sunday selections – power plant

Here are some more photos for Frogpondsrock’s Sunday Selections photo project. Go on over and have a look  – or post some photos on your blog and join in too!

First, here’s what this week’s photos are all about . . .

On Friday night Juniordwarf, Slabs, my Mum and I went to the Power Plant show at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. It was part of the Ten Days on the Island festival, which is a biennial arts festival held across Tasmania.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe Power Plant. I don’t think ‘show’ is the right word to use either.

The Ten Days Guide says this about it:

“Deep among the historic treasures of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, as dusk falls, old gramophones spin glittering sounds whilst clicking lights cast vast moving shadows. Whistles rise and fall and flowerbeds are transformed by sparkling whirling machines, dancing to their own tune…



A five-star hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the nocturnal world of Power Plant comes to Hobart after sell-out shows in the UK.

‘A bewitching garden of the imagination’ The Liverpool Echo. 

Over thirteen nights, you’re invited into the familiar surroundings of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens which will be transformed by a kaleidoscope of delightful tableaux, lit by flashing neon, shadowy projections and bursts of fiery radiance. Bring all the family and take a dazzling and enchanting journey through a magical series of sound and light installations in the trees, beds and bushes. 

With the Gardens the real star of this show, Power Plant is the not-to-be-missed event of Ten Days 2011. 

‘Power Plant transforms the lush and dank houses of the Botanical Gardens into a magical and at times thrilling experience.’ * * * * The Telegraph (UK) “

It was just an amazing night, and I was totally mesmerised by the whole experience.

I took some photos, but they really don’t do it justice. It was breathtaking, stunning, fabulous, amazing! There simply aren’t words to describe it.

I’m so glad we went. I was worried that Juniordwarf might not enjoy it, after our experience with the dinosaurs a couple of weeks ago. I thought he might get freaked out by the noise or the crowd, or that he’d be too tired to enjoy it, since he’d have to stay up past his bedtime.

I shouldn’t have worried. He had an absolute blast! This is one of his favourite places to visit, and seeing it lit up like this, with the accompanying sound effects, was so exciting for him. And for us too. It was just wonderful and is something that will stay in my memory for a long time.

Tree at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens

Another tree at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens

Another view of that tree

‘Floris Fluctuation’ Kinetic Flowers by Mark Anderson

‘Repercussus’  Reflection by Kirsten Reynolds

‘Soundwave’ by Ulf Pedersen

‘Suspiria de Profundus’ Sighs from the Depths by Kirsten Reynolds

Apples – I’m not sure which installation this one belongs to

‘Silent Spring’ by Jony Easterby

One of the paths was lined by these lanterns

‘Ignifer Conspiro’ Pyrophones by Mark Anderson
(and yes, some of the ducks were still swimming in the pond.)

Juniordwarf watching ‘Ignifer Conspiro’
I edited these photos on my phone using the Camera+ app, which is my favourite app at the moment.