Thursday, 4 October 2012

APH - A Pleasant Hour (and a half)

As a contribution to Floriade fever the Horticulture section of the Department of Parliamentary Services  have run tours of the courtyard gardens at the Australian Parliament House (also APH).  Frances and I went on one today and it was absolutely top.  Very interesting in all sorts of ways with a very knowledgeable presenter whose day job is a Senior Horticulturist specialising in trees.

For the benefit of overseas readers I start with a view from the front of APH looking over the Old Parliament House (now the Australian Museum of Democracy) to the War Memorial and the Mount Ainslie skyline.
We got there a bit early so had a look round the features of the building including the Great Hall, which is truly vast.  An idea of the scale is given by the figure bottom left going to check Arthur Boyd's signature woven in to this tapestry.
 The foyer is well endowed with marble.  I recall that when the place was first opened a friend from South Australia visited and marveled at how much had been spent on it.  He reckoned a couple of Italian terrazo workers from Rostrevor could have knocked the job over in a weekend for a 100th of the price.
Above the doors were some lovely examples of inlaid woodwork depicting flowers - yes we are moving towards plants.
There are good views of the gardens from the hallways and offices within the facility.  One of the principles guiding the architectural plan for the gardens - and the maintenance processes is to ensure that the gardens look attractive when viewed from above.

 We proceded quite a bit through the halls of the House,  This was noticeable for the propaganda that some members  - notably the member for Hume - have stuck on the outside of their doors.  Reminds me of the sort of juvenile stuff we used to do at uni.   We then got down into the courtyards.

 The most attractive flower for me was this Dogwood.
 Here is a view of the Flagpole - which can pretty much be seen from most parts of Canberra - from underneath!
 Although I didn't take photographs to illustrate these points it was very interesting to hear about the logistics involved in the work - getting small trucks and such like into the courts is far from from simple. They also use Integrated Pest Management to minimise the use of pesticides by employment of biological agents (parasitic wasps, specific nematodes etc).  I'd love to hear more about that.

The dominant birds were the Pied Currawongs calling everywhere.  One of them did get assaulted and driven off by a pair of Magpie-larks.
 A Grey Fantail was not so lucky.  Probably a fair metaphor for what goes on inside the building!


Mac_fromAustralia said...

I did the tour two years ago, it's great isn't it! I remember they said they use the diluted milk spray on the roses.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Mac. I must try and find out some more about what they do and give the ideas publicity.