From the archives

1st April 2011

…….and the following cacti images were shot on different days and I have shared both before, but having been made with a 100mm macro lens does mean they’re worth sharing again.  



From the archives

31st January 2011

This image belongs to yesterday when I didn’t get around to choosing an image for the day.   Lots of other things on the ‘to do’ list.

I’m not a fan of cacti, but since the RBG (Royal Botanic Gardens) has a large arid garden as part of their plant collection and it was near the garden’s entrance I used every visit, its inevitable that I took the time to photograph some of its many specimens.

Euphorbia ingens variegata ????

I was disappointed in this image as it looks too ‘flat’.   I actually tried to edit it into a better photo late last night, but my photo editing skills are minimal and no matter how much light and life I tried to inject into the image, it remains dead (to me) and two-dimensional.

Still, I’m sure there are some cacti & succulents lovers out there who might enjoy the view. Further down 2011 I took some more interesting images of both cacti and succulents with my Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens which turned out much better, but they will come further down my scrolling through my photo library archives.


PERUVIAN TORCH CACTUS (Trichocereus peruvianus)

I received the Cacti & Succulent book I’d ordered in the mail the other day and I’m labouring my way through the photos trying to match some of my unidentified cacti images (made in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens) with the book.

I was very disappointed to find that there are no Common Names mentioned.

How extraordinary I thought to myself.

Both my Australian Plant Encyclopaedias  and Weeds in Australia book list the Common Name first (with the Genus, species and family second).

All I can say is that at least it might give me some clues to narrow down my cacti identification without labouring through multiple websites.

In the meantime, my photos of the Peruvian Torch Cactus (Trichocereus peruvianus) were already identified from a name plaque at the base of the plant in the RBG.  Not only are the flowers stunning on this fast-growing columnar prickly cactus, but the flower buds are equally interesting.

I’ll leave you to look up more about this plant if you’re interested, as this blog is about Nature Photography, not Gardening or Botany per se.

Melbourne’s RBG (Royal Botanic Gardens) were only 5 minutes walk away from where I used to live and work on the south-east side of Melbourne’s main river for the benefit of those new to my nature blog.  So when I had to take ‘early retirement’ due to ill-health in 2010 and bought a camera and took up Photography as a hobby, it was initially my main source of photo subjects.  But I already knew the RBG intimately BC (Before Camera), as I walked in and around its many paths for something like 25 years.  When you live in a small apartment, who can complain about having no garden or backyard of your own, when a 38 hectare site with some 55,000 plant is on your ‘doorstep’.


Following on from the previous post featuring Cacti, I finally decided to purchase a Cacti & Succulents Plant and Identification Guide book during the week, so I can finally put some more names on my Cacti and Succulent images.  I’m one of those old-fashioned people who find it easier and more enjoyable to look at a book, not the internet (for plants and flowers).

Having re-homed about 600 fiction and many non-fiction books over the last 4-5 years and moving to smaller apartments (twice), I really don’t want any more books, but I figured one more new book wouldn’t destroy the equilibrium of my down-sized furniture and decor 😀

I’ve already got 2 Australian Plant Encyclopaedias on my bookshelf, but they are more general, in both plant and tree species. I also have a wonderful Field Guide to Weeds in Australia I bought at a sale about 25 years ago and didn’t use at all for the first 20 years it lay on my bookshelf.

It can be tedious and very time-consuming trying to identify Cacti (and Succulents), which, on the surface, without flowers (in particular), can look very similar.  Especially as I don’t have the time or eyesight to spend copious amounts of time on the computer any more.

Earlier this year, I went to Melbourne’s largest bookstore to spend some time in their Gardening section.  I was surprised to find that of the 50-60 books on Gardening (in general), most were about planting/growing/landscaping or filled with rather ‘arty’ flower images that showed insufficient detail of the whole plant.  In hindsight, I wish that I’d spent more time photographing the Cacti and Arid section plants in the Royal Botanic Gardens in full detail when I lived so close to the area.

I wish I’d photographed (every plant) in every season too.

But of course, I started out in mid 2010 being an amateur photographer, not a Botanist or Gardener.  My primary hobby is still outdoor Photography even though chronic health symptoms keep me mostly indoors these days.

Back in 2012,13 and 2014 I had a 100mm f2.8 macro lens, so was more interested in experimenting in bokeh or DOF (Depth of Focus).  I still love a narrow depth of field or interesting bokeh on browsing other nature lover’s photography websites to this day.

I wanted to capture the small details of the flowers or spines/stems and for the most part, never realised that Common and Botanical names would become important to me.

Some plants in the Royal Botanic Garden’s main site – they have 3 – had name labels next to the them which I photographed at the time of shooting the flowers and plants.

But between computer crashes, reducing my photo library volume and changing from Windows to a Mac, somehow, some of those plant identification label images seem to have disappeared 🙂

I think I was a little over zealous in my image volume reduction task, but no point ‘crying over spilt milk’ now.

Anyway, my book has been despatched from Booktopia’s warehouse in New South Wales and should arrive in the coming week, so we’ll have a few more plant images between the Birds, Flowers and anything else Nature related that I’ve shared recently on my blog.

LACE CACTUS (Mammillaria elongata)

I’m not a fan of Cacti……..or…….Succulents.

Well, maybe I do like some of their flowers.  I’ve also had the experience of leaning too close to a Prickly pear and been pierced on both arms and stomach with dozens of hair-like prickles…….twice…..even through thick jeans.  Spending ages removing the prickles would make you think I’d learned my lesson not to lean too close, but it took 2 lessons to learn that.

I prefer soft dainty flowers (in general).

But ‘When in Rome’……..or Guilfoyle’s Volcano or the Arid Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, one may as well take photos of them…..especially as they stand still and don’t wave around in the wind 🙂

LACE CACTUS (Mammillaria elongata)

These 2 plant areas are located in the south-east corner and close to where I used to live, so when I took up Photography, I walked past them every Garden excursion and got lots of practice with my, then, 100mm f2.8 Macro lens.  I traded this lens back in 2015 as I didn’t use it much and wanted to buy the lightweight Sony a6000 (which was way above my gear budget at that time).  I’ve also taken lots of images with my 18-200mm lens (which eventually died after 80,000+ images in 2015).

Needless to say, I seem to have an inordinate amount of Cacti images, many of them in unlabeled folders.  One of these days I must look them all up via Google images and put names on the folders instead of just……..CACTI.

The Lace Cactus (Mammillaria elongate) is one of the few which is identified.


GOLDEN RAT TAIL CACTUS (Cleistocactus winteri)

This particular plant image hails from the slopes of a water catchment in the Royal Botanic Gardens called Guilfoyles Volcano

The sloping ground leading right up to the water catchment is covered in either cacti, succulents or low-water plants and well worth a look if you’re visiting Melbourne.  (Or just a local and hadn’t realised this wonderful section of garden existed).  When living on that south-east corner of the RBG, I used to pass it regularly and while not a fan of cacti, the waist-high beds, as you walk up the spiral path, make for wonderful photo opportunities.

I seem to remember this was one of the 1st areas I took my new DSLR and Macro lens in early 2011.

Today, with a flawless blue sky, I’m inclined to go to the plant nursery (via taxi again) to choose some herbs for my planned new indoor mini Herb Garden.  Being Winter, my spinach and other leafy crops seem to be at a standstill in their growth and the cruel winds over the last few days have almost split my large Rosemary bush in half (again).  I’ll have to give it a new twine and bamboo ‘corset’ to hold it together again.  I only took it off this past Summer.

It has been very cold and windy lately.  Great news for skiing up in the Alpine Regions of the State, but most unpleasant if you don’t have a warm car to go out in (down in the lower elevations).  The thing is that Melbourne, with its generally temperate climate, is not used to extreme cold.