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Wednesday Walk: Carnivorous Plants Exhibition: Plants with Bite. The Calyx at Sydney Botanical Gardens. Original Photography


last yearSteemit12 min read

Plants with Bite
The captivating and deadly.
Drosera. Venus fly traps. Pitcher plants.
Dwelling on islands of Sphagnum and Spanish moss.
Captivating companions to exotic hand-made glass art.


Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality. ~Lewis Carroll.

Wednesday Walk, initiated by @tattoodjay is a wonderful way to see those hidden gems in your 'ordinary' environment and experience those unexpected magical moments when you can truly delight in your world. ~Ally.

Two weeks ago on my #WednesdayWalk I went to the Sydney Botanical Gardens to see the annual exhibition: Artisans in the Gardens being held at the Lion Gate Lodge in the Gardens.

Artisans in the Gardens is a Spring Celebration of our Natural World and traditionally showcases some of Australia’s finest established and emerging artists and craftspeople who are inspired by nature and who also endeavor to highlight current environmental issues through their work. ~Ally. 'Artisans in the Gardens' at the Lion Gate Lodge.

The Calyx.

On my way to the Lion Gate Lodge, my 'Inner Muse' was led to The Calyx for the first time. Such a delightful and totally unexpected treat for the 'Artist within.'

On my #WednesdayWalk this week I'd like to take you back there to see the current Carnivorous Plants Exhibition: ‘Plants with Bite.’

This exhibition was AMAZING and it was quite a challenge to capture the wondrousness of it all, with so many other visitors there.

We have been planning Plants with Bite for over 18 months and it will feature over 25,000 plants. ~Jimmy Turner, Director of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

As we slowly wander through the bizarre world of Carnivorous Plants ~ Accompanied by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll the English author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass ~ I'll also show you some of the spectacular floristry arrangements featured there with hanging baskets and beautifully hand-made glass art.

The exhibition was held in the tall glass building that you can see behind the foreground circular structure of the Calyx.


There is a place, like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am. ~Lewis Carroll.
Photograph: Source.

At the top of the steps leading down to the Calyx.

Where I first noticed the sign: Plants with Bite.

I was always fascinated by the colour and voluptuous shapes of the Pitcher Plants that used to be in the Tropical Glass Pyramid and becoming curious now about The Calyx, I walked down to this most impressive new (to me anyway) outdoor and indoor exhibition space. ~Ally. Spring in the Sydney Botanical Gardens.


In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again. ~Lewis Carroll.

Banner Art in the open courtyard of The Calyx.


Curiouser and curiouser. ~Lewis Carroll.

Banner Art in the Gardens.

Carnivorous Plant banners were also installed throughout the Gardens: Directing visitors to The Calyx: Such striking environmental art pieces.


When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one. ~Lewis Carroll.

Grove of Crimson Bottlebrush trees.

Down down down ~ Down the steps to the Calyx ~ When I stopped for a moment, being attracted by a spectacular grove of Crimson Bottlebrushes (Callistemon citrinus.)

Bottlebrushes are so called because the filaments of their flower spikes are shaped like a 'bottlebrush.'

These trees occur in bushland areas of the east and south-east of Australia and the south-west of Western Australia. Because they are so hardy and attractive ~ To birds and bees as well as humans ~ They are very popular in parks and gardens as well as alongside roadways.


No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time. ~Lewis Carroll.

The Green Wall.

Walking into the display area from the foyer, I almost had the sense that I must have fallen into Wonderland

I've seen a few images and videos of Green Walls and there is a fake Green Wall at the Sydney Airport but the featured Green Wall of The Calyx is absolutely astounding.

The wall is actually the largest living interior Green Wall in the Southern Hemisphere ~ With over 18,000 beautifully cared for plants and flowers, it stands at 6 metres in height and stretches 50 metres across.

Originally designed to be a living impressionist watercolour painting, the wall was mapped out on an excel spreadsheet, with each spot numbered and colour coded to assist the Botanical Garden's six horticulturalists who were responsible for its installation.

With five drip irrigation systems and 2,000 drippers, it's completely self-watering. However, every morning before any visitors arrive a team of horticulturists manicure it, to be always impeccably 'picture perfect.'


Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~Lewis Carroll.

Plants on the Green Wall.


If you set to work to believe everything, you will tire out the believing-muscles of your mind, and then you'll be so weak you won't be able to believe the simplest true things. ~Lewis Carroll.

Carnivorous plants.

Not knowing where to begin. I simply looked down to see groupings of hundreds maybe thousands of carnivorous plants.


Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.
~Lewis Carroll.

Carnivorous plants have adapted to grow in places where the soil is poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus and derive some or most of their nutrients from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods.

True carnivory is thought to have evolved independently nine times in five different orders of flowering plants, and is represented by more than a dozen genera. This classification includes at least 583 species that attract, trap, and kill prey, absorbing the resulting available nutrients. Additionally, over 300 protocarnivorous plant species in several genera show some but not all of these characteristics. Source: Carnivorous Plants


Have I gone mad? I'm afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are. ~Lewis Carroll.

Video of the Australian Pitcher Plant Cephallotus follicularis by the National Institute for Basic Biology

Carnivorous plants around the world all developed their killer habit in surprisingly similar fashion, according to this genetic study of distantly related Pitcher Plants from Australia, Asia and America. DNA reveals how Pitcher Plants evolved to become flesh-eaters

But, said Alice, if the world has absolutely no sense, who's stopping us from inventing one? ~Lewis Carroll.


Most Carnivorous Plants will look their stunning best under bright sunlight because this encourages them to synthesize red and purple anthocyanin pigments. Not all enjoy tropical conditions, but those that do really thrive on high humidity.

The mist machines made for some wonder-full atmospheric visual effects too. Here a whirl of mist appears to be slowly rolling towards me.


Life, what is it but a dream. ~Lewis Carroll.

And a gentle background for photography.


She tried to fancy what the flame of a candle is like after the candle is blown out, for she could not remember ever having seen such a thing. ~Lewis Carroll.


On a small scale: A high humidity can be achieved by placing the plant in a wide saucer containing pebbles that are kept permanently wet.

On a slightly larger scale: Several water ponds ~ Some with islands ~ Have been incorporated into the environmental design of Plants with Bite and every so often mist would swirl up from the depths of these mysterious dark places.


Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
~Lewis Carroll.

Peatlands and Sphagnum mosses.

The islands and the banks of the ponds were artistically draped in Sphagnum moss with trails of Spanish moss.

Sphagnum mosses occur naturally in peat bogs, conifer forests, and moist tundra areas in the Northern Hemisphere and in subtropical Brazil, southern Chile and Argentina, New Zealand and Tasmania in the Southern Hemisphere. Any one peatland may have a number of different Sphagnum species. Source: Sphagnum.


All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.
~Lewis Carroll.

Interesting Sphagnum facts.

Both living and dead Sphagnum mosses can store large quantities of water inside their cells ~ Up to 26 times as much water as their dry weight, depending on the species.

Hence, as sphagnum moss grows, it can slowly spread into drier areas and form larger and very deep mires and bogs. These peat accumulations then provide habitat for a wide array of peatland plants, including carnivorous plants and orchids. Source: Sphagnum.


Beware the Jabberwock, my son.
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch.
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch.
~Lewis Carroll.

Glass Art.

Glass Pitcher Plants in bright golden yellows and superb moss greens added another enchanting element to the water ponds and swamps.

The artist, Keith Rowe is primarily a glass blower but also enjoys working with sand and kiln casting and over the years has developed his own individual style of handmade glass art.

You can see more of Keith's work with glass at the Blue Mountains Creative Community website: MTNS MADE


In a Wonderland they lie: Dreaming as the days go by. ~Lewis Carroll.


Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream ~Lewis Carroll.


Lingering in the golden gleam: Life, what is it but a dream? ~Lewis Carroll.

Large-scale arrangements.

On the opposite side to the Green Wall stood some amazing arrangements, made from large stumps and sculpted driftwood, branches and twigs, hanging baskets and long strands of Spanish moss ~ Providing protection to some of the shade loving Carnivorous Plants.


But, said Alice, if the world has absolutely no sense, who's stopping us from inventing one? ~Lewis Carroll.



I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then. ~Lewis Carroll.

And furthermore:


It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then. ~Lewis Carroll.



Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle. ~Lewis Carroll.

Hanging baskets.


Up above the world you fly, like a tea tray in the sky. ~Lewis Carroll.

Hidden Gems.

This Cochliostema odoratissimum was in full bloom with showy heads of dark blue-violet flowers, rather like a larger version of a blue Ginger.

In the wild, these plants are epiphytes, although they will grow terrestrially if they happen to fall from their host tree. They're akin to bromeliads in their ecology, except the leaves don’t have any prickles. Source: Spiderworts.


Do you suppose she's a wildflower? ~Lewis Carroll.

I hope you've enjoyed walking through this magnificent educational display and will join me now in thanking and congratulating the Sydney Botanical Gardens Horticulture Team for designing, creating and maintaining it.


I'm not strange, weird, off, nor crazy. My reality is just different from yours. ~Lewis Carroll.

Sculpture by the Sea Bondi.

I still have the intention of going back to The Calyx earlier in the morning: To capture images of the total 'scape' there, as well as details of the Venus fly traps.

However next Wednesday I'll take you on a totally different walk again. Along the 2 kilometre pathway that follows the spectacular high cliffs of Bondi Beach to Tamarama Bay, to view some of the 107 sculptures installed there for Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi.

Bank by Mu Boyan.

On a lighter note: Instead of the usual 'Do not touch' sign next to Bank was one that said 'Do not climb.'


Under such a nice blue sky, facing a peaceful sea.
Here, let us empty our minds and take a rest.
~Mu Boyan.

I hope you'll join me on my next #WednesdayWalk to see more of the fabulous work at this year's Sculpture by the Sea Bondi.

My Wednesday Walks.

Photography: ©Alison Lee Cousland.
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