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Tree book

The day I arrived in Sydney the sky was shamelessly blue. Winter sun was warming my skin as I was walking between colonial houses of Redfern. It was first of many walk I was going to take through hidden streets and corners of the inner west suburbs. The first thing different from home I noticed were the trees. Tall and proud, with wide trunks and twisted branches, with white sheets of bark peeling off their surface, with aromatic green leafs, or with seeds covered in spikes hanging of the ends of their branches like a Christmas decoration. The thing was – they were very different to any plants I have seen during my life in Europe. And perhaps normally this observation would carry little significance, but not for me.

I grew up in the middle of ancient forest in the mountains of Eastern Europe. There is nothing more familiar to me than oaks and pines, tall grass of meadows and little shrubs of mountain slopes. My grandparents taught me to name different trees, school taught me how they made their food, obtained their water and communicated with each other and their environment, and by myself I’ve learned to recognize individual trees by their shapes and colours. And wherever I went in Europe they were the same, something I could tell my friends stories about when we went for walks.

So, when I arrived in Australia for the first time I was lost. I couldn’t name or recognize any of the plants I saw in the city, in the parks, or surrounding the beaches. I was amazed by the overwhelming diversity of the plants that evolved completely separately from the once in Europe, assuming fantastic forms that went beyond my imagination. In order to get my head around some of it, or perhaps to document some of the incredible wealth and beauty of Australian nature, I have set up a project for myself. The project involved drawing portraits of my favorite trees in various locations. Through use of different colours I have attempted to convey some of their personality as I perceived it. So here are results of my self-appointed activity. I have also collected fallen leafs that I found under the trees.

This tree came from the local park, by University of Sydney. It sits by the pound and stretches its wide branches lazily over the grass giving shade to the ducks, ibises and other water birds. I only drew its trunk as it had the most beautiful complex patters of orange and pale blue moss on its bark.DSC_0273DSC_0274

This bulky white tree lives in the middle of a meadow in the Sydney Botanic Gardens. It proudly posed for the portrait during a sunny late winter Sunday.

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I believe this is a gumtree, an amazing type of tree I have been introduced to by locals. It’s pale, smooth bark is marked by darker irregular spots.

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This is a mysterious tree in front of Chinese contemporary art gallery. In the middle of spring it had no leaves, but all the branches were covered with little round black seeds. I got a chance to observe it throughout the year, and see as slowly it become covered in leaves.

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This tree tends to first explode with intensely purple flowers in the beginning of spring. Then it covers all of its surroundings with a soft carpet of delicate flowers as they fall. And only then it directs its efforts into growing leaves to feed itself.

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And this is a tree I have acquainted in Perth in the botanic gardens. It kept me company for a few afternoon hours I had to kill during a journey.

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And finally here is an evidence that four leaf cloves do exist! But I think you can only find them if you truly believe that they are there, hidden in the grass. Four leaf clovers seem to dislike people of small faith.

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And here is me, exploring yet another forest.

Monika, Sydney.

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