Birdsnest Crysal Castle

The Ultimate Music Concert Starring – Plants

It’s early autumn when I head down the M1 from Brisbane to Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens nestled in Byron Shire’s hinterland of northern New South Wales Australia.

An easy two-hour drive I arrive mid-morning, the humidity bearable and the ambient temperature a comfortable 28o Celsius. Every now and I again I walk through a pocket of cool air – deliciously divine.

Spread over five hectares (12.4 acres) this ever-evolving property sits on an area of the Tweed volcano where lava flowed approximately 23 million years ago. Crystals of varying sizes are scattered through gardens and benches strategically placed to take advantage of the verdant surroundings.

Byron Shire Hinterland Crystal Castle

Views that roll on forever

Plant Communication

A lifelong nature lover, the Castle’s Music of the Plants experience is why I’m here. Research shows trees communicate with each other[i] as do other plants[ii] by releasing volatile chemicals. According to an article by Christine Hse dated Jun 11, 2012, Scientists Confirm that Plants Talk and Listen To Each Other, Communication Crucial for Survival[iii] they not only respond to sound but communicate to each other by making clicking sounds. Knowing this I’m curious as to how plant communication translates into music.

This experience began 40 years ago in Damanhur[iv] – an award-winning spiritual eco-community in the Piedmont region of northern Italy when Damanhur researchers designed a device capable of capturing the sound a plant makes, by connecting it to the plant’s leaves and roots. In effect this device picked up the plant’s electrical emanation and produced sound.

Fast forward to the present and I’m in the Castle’s Peace Room, now filled to capacity. Facilitator, Sjha’ra of Chocolate Yoga (worthy of its own story) welcomes us. The rock stars of the show, six potted plants and a synthesiser, sit beside her. Two electrodes are plugged into the device, the conductor has a nail attached and is placed into the soil around the root of the plant, the other is attached to the upper leaves. We learn that once an electrical connection is made, the algorithm is translated by the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) producing sound through the synthesiser.

The Concert

While hooking up the electrodes Sjha’ra introduces a Madonna lily. We’re told that to hear the best music an open heart is required and we’re instructed to project feelings of love toward Madonna.

An elderly gent in the front row turns to a young lady three seats across mouthing ‘Love?’ Smiling she nods. He mouths ‘love?’ three more times before turning to the front.

Now we sit and wait. Sjha’ra informs us that while these plants produce music, not all plants do and in fact need to be trained. My eyelids flutter wildly analysing this training concept. I later research plant training and discover trainers expose them to different music, handle them, and talk to them.

My mind wanders back to a 1986 interview where Prince Charles said he talked to plants. In a Daily Mail article of 2 March 2013 written by Rebecca Evans, Prince Charles further stated that these days he also instructs them. Kudos to His Royal Highness.

Back in the room Sjha’ra smiles touching Madonna’s leaves to encourage a response. ‘Maybe Madonna’s shy?’ she muses.

Madonna beeps once, pauses, then plays a delightful riff of experimental music. Goosebumps explode while I listen transfixed to the melody.

While Sjha’ra enlightens us with the music’s history, I mentally promise to become a better caretaker of my plants and shower them with love. I suspect there are others in the room thinking much the same.

A young agave Sjha’ra hasn’t worked with before is the last performer. Shy at first the plant takes a few moments to warm up. We send it more love. Sjha’ra jumps in surprise at its first note and smiles at the plant. Another beep, followed by a longer tone. Tentatively Agave plays several notes, picks up the pace before slowing down again. I’m unable to shake the feeling that this agave’s communication style is much like a two-year old, and subsequently fall in love with it.

After the concert I ask Sjha’ra about people’s reactions to this experience. She tells me there are many, recalling an older woman who at 65-year-old had never owned an indoor plant. “She always had plastic plants because she didn’t like messing around with plants, and didn’t want the responsibility of caring for them. Underneath all that was the fear of killing the plants.”

After her plant music experience, she bought her first indoor plant – one is truly never too old to begin something new.

It’s no secret that plants and music have healing qualities, and from a personal point of view found the combination of both to be profound and a reminder to become a better guardian of the surrounding plant life.

[i] http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/05/20/4236600.htm – Do trees communicate with each other
[ii] http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38727/title/Plant-Talk/
[iii] http://www.medicaldaily.com/scientists-confirm-plants-talk-and-listen-each-other-communication-crucial-survival-240775
[iv] http://www.damanhur.org/en/research-and-experimentation/the-plant-world

Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre

On the other side of my hill and a little up the road is the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre, tucked away in the leafy Brisbane suburb The Gap. The discovery centre is only 12 kilometres from Brisbane’s Central Business District, a fabulous greenspace (part of the D’Aguilar National Park) for people to enjoy without having to travel out of town – lucky me, I live on the other side of the hill 🙂

Walking along one of the many pathways I found this lovely wedding dais overlooking the picturesque Enoggera Reservoir and made a mental note to return and explore this area further with bathers and towel (there’s a little beach along the water’s edge).

Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre

Heading towards the Enoggera Reservoir from Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre

Lovers arch

What’s not to love

Wedding Dais

The wedding dais overlooks Enoggera Reservoir

Side of wedding dais

From the wedding dais looking down to Enoggera Reservoir

I’ve always enjoyed photography but this year I began snapping away more than usual. The four week photography course with daily assignments followed by a 7-Day Nature Challenge probably had something to do with it.

So during the course of honing my photographic skills and hunting for the perfect shot, I discovered greenspaces and things to do closer to home, something that satisfies my inner tourist and my urge to photograph things 🙂

Day Seven 7-Day Nature Challenge

Day Seven of the 7-Day Nature Challenge (nominated by lovely Laura from The View From My Window)

For the final day of this challenge I decided to star a couple of Australian Water Dragons (Intellagama lesueurii) or see Day Five post for a close-up of water dragon – think his name is Pedro 🙂

The Australian Water Dragons live along the eastern seaboard around lakes, ponds, water drains, and rivers. They’re lovely reptiles although startle me when they appear at my feet unexpectedly.

I’ve had fun with the 7-Day challenge and hope you’ve enjoyed it also ♥

Bunyaville Conservation Park Late Afternoon

Day Six 7-Day Nature Challenge

Day Six of the 7-Day Nature Challenge (nominated by lovely Laura from The View From My Window)

A lifelong tree hugger, nothing was finer than the discovery of these tall trees in the Bunyaville Conservation Park 7 kilometres from home, and 15 kilometres north of Brisbane’s Central Business District – lucky aren’t I?

The Bunyaville Conservation Park is perfect for hiking enthusiasts, family picnics, and romantic picnics for two.

I love city greenspaces ♥

Brisbame River City View

Day Five 7 -Day Nature Challenge

Day Five of the 7-Day Nature Challenge (nominated by lovely Laura from The View From My Window)

In between city appointments today I took the opportunity to photograph nature in Brisbane’s Central Business District.

Here in the City Botanic Gardens not far from the Margaret Street entrance I came upon this pond complete with resting water dragon.

City Botanic Gardens Brisbane

A water dragon at one with the pond

Soon after I met this friendly water dragon, his eyes following me as I cautiously circled him. I think his name is Pedro…

Water Dragon City Botanic Gardens

Nearly fell into the pond when I saw this

Margaret Street side of the gardens – such a pretty garden 🙂

Ornamental Pond City Botanic Gardens

Margaret Street end

Oh and if you’re looking for your staff, I found them running past me huffing, puffing, panting, and groaning – lunchtime fitness fun 🙂

I love greenspaces ♥

Mysterious White Horse

Day Four 7-Day Nature Challenge

Day Four of the 7-Day Challenge ((nominated by lovely Laura from The View From My Window)

The white horse on the hill

Just before I close my eyes before meditation, a vision appears of a beautiful white horse on a green hilltop. The white horse, with its calm demeanour, looks directly towards me and waits. I have arrived home.

This morning I stopped along one of the backroads in the Samford Valley, sounds far but is only around 15 kilometres as the crow flies (really, this long distance travel is brutal). I took several photographs of brown horses, paddocks, trees, and flowers. And then I saw it, a white horse grazing on the far side of a green hill; the star of today’s challenge.

As I neared the fence it too came closer until we stood eyeballing each other (photo below).

The White Horse

Pretty white horse with pretty brown eyes

Throughout the ages and cultures, legends speak of a white horse :

  • In Revelations 6:1 one of the Four Horsemen rode a white horse
  • The winged white horse Pegasus is one of the best known creatures in Greek mythology, not surprising considering its Mum and Dad are Poseidon and Medusa
  • In Chinese mythology there is Longma a winged horse with dragon scales, also known as  a dragon horse
  • The Uffington White Horse figure dating back to the Bronze Age, is situated on White Horse Hill (where else?) in Oxfordshire England
  • In Hindu mythology the king of horses is a seven headed white horse called Uchchaihshravas
  • Even the Lone Ranger rode a white horse called Silver
White Horse Eating

White horse eating the abundant grass along the fence

What a pleasure it was meeting this white horse today 🙂

Day Three 7-Day Nature Challenge

Day Three of the 7-Day Nature Challenge (nominated by lovely Laura from The View From My Window)

For today’s challenge I travelled far and wide…kidding! I drove just over 6 kilometres to the Ravens Street Reserve – 12 kilometres from Brisbane’s Central Business District it.

Photo One

Walking into the reserve I discover an abundance of grass trees or Xanthorrhoea, a plant uniquely Australian, growing through the bush and gullies.

Grass trees Ravens Street Reserve

A gully dotted with magnificent grasstrees

Photo Two

The two grass trees in the distance add an eerie mood to this photograph. Could they be tree spirits or guardians of the forest? Everything around us is alive (except for plastic, get rid of plastics) and much is invisible to the naked eye 🙂

Ravens Street Reserve West Chermside

Watchers of the forest, two grasstrees stand among the ferns

Photo Three

I couldn’t pass this tree without first taking a photograph of its lemon yellow banksia flowers. This tree was situated beside the children’s playground and the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre.

Banksia Chermside Hills Reserve

Lemon yellow banksia at Ravens Street Reserve, Brisbane

Doing this challenge has opened my eyes even further to what exists close by 🙂