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First, meet my hosts, Ruth and John Higgins (left) and Karen and Debra Zimmerman. Karen is a fellow speaker from the Huntington Botanic Gardens in California, USA who will amaze us with her creations of Aloe hybrids. They are posing in front of a new bed that John is planting up this Spring – yes, it is Spring down under!

Left to right: ||Ruth and John Higgins, Karen and Debra Zimmerman

Left to right: ||Ruth and John Higgins, Karen and Debra Zimmerman

What would we like to do? I had bought Attila Kapitany’s excellent book on Australian Succulents and learned that Queensland boasted it’s own bottle tree – Brachychiton rupestris, the Queensland Bottle Tree. I had already seen and photographed caudiciforms in Brasil, Cuba, South Africa and Namibia so this would add nicely to my portfolio of fat trees. I can see that I’ll have to find time to take a look around Madagascar to add significantly to that portfolio!

Brachychiton rupestris

Brachychiton rupestris

Karen Zimmerman

Karen showing that her arms are too short to hug the whole tree

John showed us a number of trees that he had known for many years as the town evolved around them, including ‘Bottle Tree Ridge’ in the Roma Street Parkland, a green oasis right in the middle of downtown Brisbane’s glass and concrete mountains towering over ancient churches. From memory, they were all B. rupestris. There were also numerous large cycads dotted around the park.

But Australia is probably better known for its unique fauna, and so we moved on to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, to switch from hugging trees to hugging at least one of the 130 koalas that are safely living here

In case of confusion - I'm the cuddly one holding the koala!

In case of confusion – I’m the cuddly one holding the koala!

All the other stars were here too: duck-billed platypus, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devil and a range of flightless birds. Cameras snapped too often to include all pictures here.

A great day and only cacti in cultivation photographed.


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