Friday, February 17, 2012


For several days I have been working on a post tying in a recent trip we made with that of a trip made by Sir Joseph Banks. It seems appropriate to publish this today on this his 274th  birthday. First let me tell you how he first entered my life.

Several years ago a large brown envelope arrived in my mail box. It was the result of a visitor to my garden asking me about the Lady Bank's rose which was in full bloom. Did I know about the lady after whom this rose was named? I had to confess I did not and had never given the name a second thought.

I was to get an education. In the envelope was a reprint of an article that had appeared in National Geographic magazine. It was on the great British botanist and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks. Banks, following his journey around the world with Captain Cook, became the director of Kew Gardens and funded may voyages to seek new plants around the world. This rose was named in honor of his wife as he had been responsible for funding the visit to procure this rose.
Sir Joseph Banks had entered my life.

Sir Joseph Banks, from a painting by Reynolds (1723-1792). Attributed to Wikipedia.

In the article was mention of this same rose growing in a garden in Tombstone, Arizona and purported to be the largest Lady Bank's rose in the world. As luck would have it, we were driving back from a visit to Phoenix in January, a couple of years ago, and took the detour to specifically see the rose. It was not going to be in bloom but then we may never pass through there in March when it would be flowering. Here is my post on the visit.

This pre amble is by way of an introduction to how Sir Joseph Banks entered my life again on a recent trip to Australia and New Zealand. I followed much the same route that he took around New Zealand, but there were a few differences.
His journey began in August of 1768 aboard the Endeavour, sailing from England with Captain Cook, and it took over a year to reach New Zealand.

HMS Endeavour, from a painting by Samuel Atkins (1787-1808) Attributed to Wikipedia.

Just a quick 11 hour flight for us. On arrival in Auckland we transferred to our ship. Considerably bigger as you might guess; 951' in length with a capacity of 3,700.  Endeavour was a mere 106' in length with  94 passengers.

Banks paid £10,000, which equates to £1,000,000  today, for equipment and berths for their mission. He took along with him Daniel Solander a student of Linnaeus, Herman Sporing, assistant to Solander, a landscape painter Sydney Parkinson, Alexander Buchan a botanical artist and his two greyhound dogs!
How easy it is today. All I need is a camera to record the plants and landscapes I see. It was unfortunate for Banks that his landscape painter died early in the trip. Banks lamented on his loss. He wouldn't be able to entertain his friends by showing them all the weird and wonderful people and things he had seen! ( This from his own diary)

New Zealand Christmas tree, the rata, Metrosideros robusta, in full bloom at the Wellington Botanic garden New Year's day.

After a stop in Tauranga we sailed around New Zealand visiting every Botanical garden we could find. We were delighted to find the Wellington Garden open on New Year's day.

Tree ferns of course.

An attractive hillside planted with succulents.

Areas reminiscent of English gardens. Temperate weather with plenty of rain. This was their summer which had been a cool one this year. We saw plenty of rain on our travels.

Our next stop was the town of Akaroa on the Banks peninsula ( named for Sir Joseph Banks). This is the replacement stop for Christchurch. We decided to forego the bus trip to Christchurch, having heard ahead of time that the center of town was closed off. We learnt later there had been another aftershock the night before.

So we enjoyed a stroll along the water front of this delightful  town and came across this lovely whimsical garden. My gardening shoes always have holes in the soles by the time I am done with them, so they would make ideal planters.

Here's an idea for what to do with your bottle caps. It didn't seem to have harmed the tree.

And so we sailed on to Dunedin having avoided the canoes of Maori warriors who encircled the Endeavour. Only a security boat circled our ship.

I would have been disappointed if I had not seen any kangaroo paw even though this wasn't Australia.

Now that's a gazania I would love to have. Such a rich color.

I think we were the only ones to venture into this garden because they had a notice about bees being there. That didn't phase me. Wasps are another thing.

Rose campion. We even saw this growing wild on one of our hikes but I don't know whether it had escaped from cultivation. I looked in one of their wildflower books and it was pictured. However, it did qualify what they considered to be a wild flower. One that had not been hybridized.

I was glad to see Solander getting a little recognition for the work he did while on board the Endeavour. It seems he named the pittosporum, from the Greek pitte meaning to tar or pitch and sporos, seed. This describes the seed which is embedded in a sticky, tar-like substance. He was one of Linnaeus favorite students, and apparently learnt well how to name plants,  although he was never given much credit by Banks who more than likely considered him a servant. He was, after all, paying his way.

The name 'rainbow queen' aptly describes the markings on this Phormium.

There were several plaques around the garden which bore Solaner's name and describing plants that grow wild in New Zealand. Some of them were useful to the men on Cook's ship. We never saw this plant on the menu, mainly because they have found a much better fruit to ward off scurvy; the kiwi-and did we eat kiwi. Particularly this new variety called golden kiwi.

We saw many grasses in this garden and used in landscapes and this was one of our favorites.

Carex flagellifera. The grasses were frequently referred to as tussock grasses.

In another respect we were more fortunate than the Endeavour. Having discovered the fiords and sailed to the entrance to Doubtful Sound, Captain Cook made the wise decision not to sail in there. He knew his winds well and the wind always blows from the west into the sound. He may have sailed in but he would never have sailed out. Not only did we sail into the sound from the Tasman Sea but two weeks later, back on a land tour of the South Island we did the whole of Doubtful sound sailing from the other end. The trip by catamaran was made in torrential rain and did we get a show. Hundreds of incredible waterfalls and a many wet cameras.
We must now sail across the Tasman sea. We had two days of rough seas and could only imagine how that little boat was tossed upon the waters. We sailed first into the port of Melbourne, Australia. We had more garden visiting to do with a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens. I will do a separate posting on this garden as it deserves a posting of its own.
Our next port of call was Hobart, Tasmania and another garden visit which I will describe in more detail at a later date.
And so on to Sydney sailing into the magnificent harbor just as the sun was rising.

A far cry from the landing that Cook and his party made when they landed at Botany Bay in April 1770

Attributed to Wikipedia. from a painting by an unknown artist 1770.

One day we took the ferry to Manley Beach and from there walked the coast trail as far as North Head though the Sydney Harbor National Park.

We followed the coastal path until we reached the lesser marked trail into the Banksia Scrub. This is one of the largest remaining areas of Banksia scrub in an area that was once covered with shrubby plants of banksias, she oaks and native flowers.

We had to pass through this break in the wall that was originally built to contain those immigrants to Australia who failed their medical exam, were removed from the ships, and placed in quarantine here. (My great uncle must have sailed into this very place before settling in Sydney).

Fucshia heath, Epacris longiflora.

Common Fringe-lily, Thysanotus tuberosus.

And the wonderful flower of the Banksia. There are 76 species of banksias named in honor of Sir Joseph Banks although I'm afraid I did not identify this one.
At the end of the trail we were rewarded with a magnificent view looking back to the city.

Vastly different from the view that awaited Captain Cook and his party when they landed in Botany Bay in April 1770.
Sir Joseph Banks brought much knowledge and understanding to the world of natural history through his travels around the world. Although from great wealth he never lived a lavish lifestyle and suffered along with everyone on these dangerous voyages he undertook. Gardeners everywhere all benefit from his great travels.
Happy 274th birthday.


  1. What a beautiful "tour". It must have been spectacular to see in person. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a trip! Love the fringe lily and the Banksia flower!

  3. You live well, Rose. That is the best revenge. Can't tell you how much I enjoy your garden travelogues. Thanks.

  4. Your David in that photo looked to be holding his back...I hope you didn't have him sneak any large rocks back to TX...

    Amazing pics, I will have to re-read this one. I see where San Diego gets some of it's garden inspiration from.

    Lady Banks' Rose...I think I have the only one that froze in Abq last winter. Was a favorite plant.

  5. Wonderful tour and beautiful flowers and plants. Such an excellent trip, I look forward to seeing the Botanical Garden tour next.

    The Antique Rose Emporium catalog does have a small writeup on the Lady Banks rose, but not nearly as much detail as you provided. I have considered it as deer avoid it.

  6. This is a really nice read with beautiful pics. I didn't know the story behind Lady Rose Banks. New Zealand is on my list of places to visit. My friends live in Wellington but it can be pricey plane ticket wise. Beautiful garden photos. Excellent post.

  7. I just knew you had to have been vacationing somewhere amazing...what a delightful trip! Wonderful photos and I can't wait for your other installments.

  8. It's delightful the way you juxtapose your visit with that of Sir Joseph Banks. I pored over each of your photos eagerly and look forward to more from Sydney (yes?). What a great trip it must have been.

  9. I also have admired the Lady Banks Rose without knowing the story behind the name. What a great and informative article! And some great pictures of interesting flowers that I have not seen before!

  10. Great post and you visited so many interesting places following in Sir Joseph Banks' steps. I didn't realize the name behind the rose had such a fascinating history!

  11. What an incredible trip!! Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing. And I learned something new about the rose!

  12. What a great trip!
    Sydney is a beautiful city. We were there in 2000, and watched as they put the Olympic rings on the Harbor Bridge.
    You gave us a whole different view.
    Looking forward to more beautiful photos.

  13. Wow - what a great tour - thanks for sharing your wonderful photos!

  14. Having read about it and the fact it is one of my favorite plants, I would be beyond thrilled to see the Arizona Lady Banks. However, I would really, really like to see New Zealand and Australia. What an opportunity you have had.

  15. Fabulous narrative of adventures, old and new. And nice shot of a spiral aloe in bloom -- don't think I've seen that before.

  16. For another reason to go to New Zealand look at this post on Great Barrier.